Just because you think your customers love your product or service doesn’t make it true.
Robust sales and increasing profit margins often disguise an insidious shortcoming in digital strategy and marketing models. Your customer experience may still leave something to be desired.
Operational management is essential to every company’s growth. Collecting and monitoring operational data (O-data) like costs, revenue and sales help businesses determine what is running well and what areas are losing money.
Business success does not only depend on capital and logistics, however. Customers drive success. What O-data doesn’t tell you is why sales are going well. Perhaps your customers are generally disappointed with your price points, quality and service, but they have no alternatives. You need to manage and analyze your users’ experience to understand the actual state of your company’s operations.
You need experience management as part of your digital strategy to improve the customer journey and instill customer loyalty for life.
What is experience management?
Experience management is the process of tracing and analyzing every aspect of your customers’ involvement with your company and your employees’ interactions with customers. Experience Management (XM) allows your company to understand how your customers feel about their interactions with your company. The experience management platform provides experience data (X-data) to contextualize and optimize your operations data (O-data).
Embedding experience management capabilities in your digital strategy ensures that your company will enhance customer experience overall and acquire the data required to personalize customer experiences. Your company’s digital strategy must include a healthy experience management capability.
A comprehensive digital strategy requires experience management
The most successful digital strategies incorporate both predictive X-data and O-data.
O-data gives you hard, quantitative numbers with which to make business decisions. X-data provides you information about the intangibles, i.e., how people feel about your business. Companies are beginning to realize that X-data can be used to improve O-data. Experience data helps you predict the what, when and where of customer needs in real-time.
Experience management allows your company to move beyond quantitative measurements and use empathy to your advantage. It’s a three-step process:
1. Collect experience data
Experience management depends on the accuracy and comprehensiveness of your X-data collection. You can never be too thorough. Collect data at every conceivable touchpoint.
Experiential touchpoint data contains useful metrics of particular importance to understanding your customer data, which leads to customer satisfaction. Three key types of metadata include:
- Geolocation. Where were customers – in the physical world – when they interacted with your digital marketing, web store or customer service?
- Temporal. People are creatures of habit. Torsten Hägerstrand demonstrated that you could predict human movement and patterns through space and time more than 50 years ago. Collecting data on when people interact with your business is always valuable.
- Modality. Companies create the most meaningful experiences when they interact with customers using a preferred modality. Comprehensive data collection should include everything of pertinence about a customer’s experience. This data might consist of a customer’s preferred device (e.g., phone, tablet, PC), channels (e.g., browser, mobile app) and transaction types (e.g., PayPal, credit card, Apple Pay).
Data collection is only the first step, however. You must be able to analyze and act upon experience data to glean any benefit. Your work has just begun at this stage.
2. Analyze experience data
Quick and insightful data analysis is key to managing experiences. Cloud-based solutions allow for faster, on-the-fly analysis than what most company server systems can provide. The faster your company analyzes experience data, the more quickly it can implement step three – action.
You can analyze customers’ X-data to create personalized experiences with your company and brand. You can even use data-backed information to make predictions about customers’ subsequent interactions with your company.
Data exploration also allows you to segment your market and create different customer profiles. Such analysis will enable you to design interactions appealing to different types of customers. You can use geolocation and temporal data to make favorable location- and temporal-based experiences.
Finally, any analysis should identify experience gaps. Where are customers “feeling” underwhelmed? Where in their experience is your brand letting them down? By collecting data at every touchpoint, you can identify adverse or negative customer reactions as well as positive ones.
3. Act on experience data
Data and the information derived from it are valuable but not substantial until you act on them.
Once you have a system to collect and analyze experience data, a digital experience platform allows you to capitalize on it. Root out experience gaps or negative experiences by updating the customer journey. You can build and maintain a positive customer experience by being responsive to customers when and where they like, or reaching out to them with offers for products and services you know they’re interested in buying.
Four core experiences to manage in your digital strategy
Experience management isn’t nearly as homogenous as the name implies. There are four intertwined subcategories of experience management.
Customer experience management
Customers are critical to the success of any business. Customer experience management is obsessed with personalization and segmentation of your customer base to create optimal experiences for as many customers as possible.
Product experience management
Customers won’t stick around if your product or service is inferior. Product experience management focuses on creating the ultimate, positive experience when customers interact with what you’re selling.
Brand experience management
Your brand is essential for picking up leads, building trust with prospects and building a loyal customer base. Experience management of a brand emphasizes its optimization in the public’s eyes.
Employee experience management
Sometimes it’s easy to forget about your employees – i.e., the people who represent your brand and product to the customers. Poor employee experience can result in subpar returns. Managing employee experience will help you identify and eliminate workflow and procedural inefficiencies.
How to incorporate experience management into your digital strategy
Your digital strategy may already employ several software solutions explicitly dealing with customer experience.
CRMs are beneficial tools. They are excellent at keeping track of processes, workflows and O-data.
CMSs are great for creating, managing and delivering omnichannel content to your customers, but they don’t collect X-data. They create them.
Exceptional experience management requires evolving your company away from these types of siloed solutions. Instead, you need a comprehensive, cloud-based digital experience platform (DXP).
A DXP integrates the power of a CRM and agile CMS with X-data crunching automation. DXP solutions like Optimizely always offer your customers ‘best-next’ experiences – i.e., every new touchpoint is informed and better personalized by previous ones. The best ones are omnichannel-capable, open and extensible – growing with your company’s needs and improving brand loyalty.