The New CXM Model
The days of one-way conversations—where you and your company would create a product, set a price, decide what place the product would be sold at, use whatever means necessary to promote the product and then analyze the buying patterns of the customer —has quickly become a thing of the past. Thanks to the Internet and the acceleration of mobile device usage around the world, your customers are now not only in control of the conversation, they’re Johnny Carson and you’re Ed McMahon.
With access to an extensive amount of information at the click of a button, your customers are now able to make purchase decisions long before having any actual discourse with you or your company. Social networks, user-generated reviews, blogs and other social sites have all become the customers’ personal bullhorn, and subsequently their primary or secondary sources of information on the products and services they purchase. Because people develop their personalities through interactions with other people, they will be deeply influenced by what their friends and associates think. In other words, if a customer is unhappy with your company’s products or services, they will certainly voice their displeasure in some way online. What’s worse, other people who trust what they have to say will read and heed. Negative word of mouth can therefore spread like a virus, which is why it’s important for you to facilitate and encourage two-way conversations.
The name of the game, then, was consumer behavior. The object of the game was to study and analyze the psychological, anthropological, economical and sociological behavior behind a customer’s purchasing of a product or service. Of course those things still matter, but why would you continue spending tons of money on market research that may be antiquated by the time you decide to make changes to your offerings? Better yet, why would you continue paying for market research data when your customers are out there on the web telling you what they like and dislike? Things change fast. Customers’ buying behaviors change even faster. Because of how fast a customer’s buying behavior changes, the name of the game now is customer experience. The object of this game is to create a memorable experience for the customer so they won’t air out your company’s dirty laundry on the web.
Be careful, though, the customer experience game can be tricky.
Nobel Prize winning author Albert Camus once said, “You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.” Customers can interact with your company, but there has to be something memorable about their experience that keeps them coming back. That something is something you simply cannot create. The customers with good experiences have typically derived value, whether perceived or real, out of their interaction with your company in some way that’s unique to them. It’s something that they felt when they underwent during their purchase experience with you. Unfortunately, you can’t really measure a person’s feelings.
That’s where the game gets tricky.
There’s no way for you to know exactly what it is that makes a person continue doing business with you. Sure, you can have tons of fire sales, add a disinfectant wipe rack by the shopping carts for sanitation, make the parking lot easier to get in and out of, or whatever else you think creates a better experience for the customer. But in truth, you have zero control over a customer’s actual experience. The only thing you can really do is incorporate a solid Customer Experience Management (CXM) system into your marketing strategy to help you manage your customers’ interaction with your company.
So, what is CXM? According to Galvin Technologies, a professional services firm specializing in web and software solutions, CXM is a management system that “uses technology to provide a personal and consistent experience for each user in order to turn prospects into life-long clients.”
— Paige ONeill (@paige_oneill) January 6, 2014
A good CXM system encourages two-way conversations between you and your customers. A well-designed CXM system can help you tailor your products or services to conform more closely to the customers ideals, craft messages to a specific audience in order to maximize market efficiency, retain existing customers, acquire new customers and helps you improve your overall business processes. Ultimately, this helps enhance the customer’s experience.
— Robin van Staveren (@RobinvStaveren) January 8, 2014
Galvin’s “CXM Model” is a three-part model that incorporates inbound marketing, personalized web experiences, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to measure, rate and evaluate customer interactions. This is a great model to incorporate into any company’s CXM strategy, and it is precisely what all twenty-first century businesses should be working to accomplish.
The New CXM Model
C&K Systems’ CXM Model can be used in congruence with Galvin’s model. The C&K Systems Model consists of a five-part, easy to remember acronym: S.H.A.R.E.
S – Socialize.
Participate on the web and in social networks that your customers may be using. Ask them if they liked a new product or service, ask them what they thought of the customer service, ask them if they know about your latest sales, ask them why they are upset with a product or service, etc. Provide them value in the form of listening, understanding and information. Keep them engaged online with your brand in some way by creating and sharing valuable (to them) content. Avoid salesman-like product or service pitches.
If you own a restaurant, encourage customers to take pictures of their food and post them to Instagram or Facebook. If you own a gift shop, reward customers with a free gift card if they ‘pin’ an item on Pinterest. If you own a retail store, offer free merchandise with every ten check-ins on Foursquare. If you have a web presence, offer product information to ensure product clarity, and a user-generated rating system so that customers can rate your products or services and read recommendations from other customers. Doing this creates a personalized feel for your customers, which adds value to their overall experience with your company.
Remember: Companies who hide in the shadows will not be companies for long. Be first with the truth. If your product or services are terrible, admit it, apologize for it and correct the problem. But do so in a public forum where others will likely see it. This helps you build trust with your customers.
H – Harness.
Now that you have regular interaction on your website and social networks, you can start integrating CRM software such as Salesforce and/or some other social media management platform such as Hootsuite, to manage customer relationships and harness data.
These data sources are important because they can help you gain valuable customer insights such as demographic information, which helps you develop market segments, determine your customers’s values, tailor products and services to fit your customers needs, tailor messages to a specific audience and acquire customers with similar ideals.
There are also customer engagement technologies, such as digital signage, in-store mobile apps, location awareness beacons, ecommerce platforms, and point of sale systems (with integrated customer loyalty programs) that can be used to help you generate traffic to your website and social networks. Incorporate whichever technologies you think will help you generate actionable business intelligence for your company.
A – Analyze.
Analyzing all of this data can be overwhelming. Do you send product ideas to R&D for development when you get a lead from social media? Do you send complaints to customer service agent to help ease a customer’s pain when he/she feels he has been wronged? Do you send demographic information to the marketing department so they can start creating ads for certain demographics? The simple answer for all of the above is: send it to anyone who can make important decisions such as product or service changes.
It’s critical that you disambiguate and dissect your data with precision and expedience. You don’t want to make rash changes on products or services because of one or two complaints, and you certainly don’t want to create a new product because one person suggested you add a third pouch to your most popular handbag. If there are a vast majority who have voiced their opinions, then it’s probably time to take action. You don’t want issues to snowball into something bigger. Have a communications plan in place to expeditiously handle whichever issue may arise.
R – Readjust.
Don’t get too caught up in your own self-importance. Unlike your brown-nosing middle managers, an angry customer on the Internet will be the first to let you know if your product is no good and/or if your services stink. On the plus side, you’ll also hear some compliments and gain important customer insights.
Just remember: don’t take your customers’ comments and suggestions lightly because they are the reason you still have a company. Readjust your products, services, prices, systems, technologies, etc. to reflect their wants, needs, ideas, suggestions and experiences. Make their customer experience a personal experience. Make them feel like you know them.
E – Engage.
By this point you should be getting a good idea of who your customers are and what they expect from you and your company. As you well know, customers are in a constant state of change. It is extremely important that you stay engaged online and encourage two-way conversations with your customers. Remember to talk with them, not at them.