In a market that is always becoming more competitive, one way that firms can stand out is to focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience (CX) and optimizing that process to increase sales, improve retention, and activate referral opportunities.
A study from Harvard Business Review found that 53% of business executives view customer experience as a strategic, competitive advantage. But 52% of executives stated that their organization lacks the processes necessary to support a comprehensive customer experience management program.
So it’s clear that many of those near the top of these organizations see the paramount importance of managing the customer experience--but less than half of the organizations are able to put together a clear plan to execute on their needs.
What are the barriers that hold back manufacturers from creating and delivering the vital components of an exceptional customer experience?
Here, I’ll examine five of the most common reasons that organizations are unable to transform their customer experience management and offer some information on how these problems may be overcome.
In many organizations, the function of the business can be dramatically fragmented. More recently, firms are seeing the strategic and operational value of aligning departments such as marketing and sales. But other departments, like support or IT, may still exist within their own silo, separate from the day-to-day operations taking place elsewhere in the business.
This can be especially troublesome within the context of optimizing the digital experience for customers, as this process involves the work of many departments and experts in various fields. It takes not only planning and execution, but technology resources, data, analysis, and creative assets to deliver a cross-channel, data-driven customer experience.
For manufacturers, there are often disparate marketing departments for various brands, each operating independently and without unified resources or strategy. Technology and IT departments generally serve the needs of each brand or department, but they aren’t organized to improve efficiency or tie together the CX across touch points.
Organizations with traditional silos should seek ways to re-align their departments for better communication and collaboration, or form new cross-functional teams dedicated to the planning and management of the customer experience.
Too often, organizations find themselves beholden to legacy technology and confined by the limitations of systems that were purchased and implemented years or decades prior.
In order for the process of customer experience management to work, technology needs to not only meet the needs of the organization, but to also integrate with one another. Most manufacturers are purchasing more technology than ever before but what they need to realize is that the technology platforms should be able to use shared information, which is integral to CX management. Without the right integration, it’s impossible to create a single customer experience platform that allows your firm to deliver relevant messages and experiences to customers across various channels and touchpoints.
Your firm should be looking closely at technology solutions that not only have specific features and functionality that you need to execute, but also provide interoperability and cross-platform integrations.
At the center of a truly great customer experience is data. It drives the contextual placement of relevant content and offers, as well as provides insight and metrics that can be used for optimization of processes and execution.
Either as a result of poor technology choices or a lack of planning and execution, many manufacturers lack the data structure to properly segment and target specific customers. In some cases, the data simply hasn’t been tracked and compiled-it doesn’t exist. While in other cases, the data does exist, but it’s siloed rather than held in a unified system to create a single view of the customer.
Both of these scenarios make it impossible to craft the kind of customized CX that adds value and creates a sustainable advantage.
Create a clear plan of data that needs to be accessible, by which platforms, and for what purpose. Assess the functionality of your current CRM or similar platform to see if it’s being used effectively. Evaluate alternative solutions as necessary.
Once you get the technology integrations right and have data at one place what matters next is what you are measuring.
As the saying goes, “What gets measured gets managed.”
When discussing CX, it’s imperative to identify and measure specific KPIs and to set realistic and attainable goals for those metrics. As with most business functions, this provides accountability and also creates a system with which your organization can benchmark success and progress.
If your organization doesn’t have clearly defined metrics or doesn’t have the tools to properly measure the metrics that should be tracked, then you should look to define this portion of your strategy.
The specific metrics should be determined by your broader strategy, but may include tactical measurements of engagement-email open rates, time on page, bounce rate, etc. or broader scores such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Experience Index (CXi).
Even with all of the right pieces in place, you still need a central plan and strategy for how to execute and manage the customer experience. The strategy should contain a high-level vision for what the organization plans to do, specific tactical and execution details, as well as assignments, roles, and metrics that will be measured.
All of these details within your strategy will support the central aim of unifying for customer experience and giving your firm the right tools and processes to deliver targeted, relevant messages and experiences to all of your customers across touch points and throughout the stages of your buying cycle.
This is really the precursor to any effective CX strategy and your organisation should undergo an extensive review and analysis process to put together a well-planned strategy for how to effectively manage your digital and customer experience.