What the customer experience is… not! (1)
“Experience” is a word with many meanings and is often used as a catch all across different contexts. The term “customer experience” has become a marketing buzz-word used to encapsulate a number of different tactics, some of which are used out of context.
It’s undeniable that the customer experience has become a new marketing trend, used by companies who wish to differentiate themselves and create value. Though there are many rewards, there are also risks associated to the approach, one of which being that there can be more than one definition of what actually is the customer experience within the same company.
This risk is accentuated when definitions are not accompanied to a clear modus operandi or when it’s blended into other marketing concepts or tactics, to the detriment of both.
Managing these risks is what inspired this blog article; not with the goal of defining the customer experience but rather to define what it’s not (or what it should not be) by shedding light on a few false beliefs that have been wrongly associated to it.
First false belief: “Customer experience = Customer service”
“If customer service is good – the customer experience will be good!”
Yes, but not always! A good customer experience is not necessarily the consequence good customer service though both are complimentary. Why? The reason is grounded in the fact of where management teams place the importance of customer service (those in charge of customer complaints or concerns) rather than as a strategic initiative. Before even starting to talk about the customer experience, staff must have the confidence, the knowledge, and the ability to offer consistently great service.
Service, in of itself, does not make a customer experience, it’s a part of it. Offering exceptional customer service is a step on the path of creating a “Wow!” but a great customer experience required more that, it requires a feeling of delight and enchantment.
Second false belief: “Customer experience = Customer relationship”
“The customer experience is mostly about building customer relationships”
Great customer relationships are a tool, albeit an important one, that only adds value if corporate values are represented and if it’s given within a customer centric culture exist (or else is seems insincere).
Let’s simplify things: customer relationships cover topics such as employee behaviour and attitudes at each point of contact. These points of contact can be face to face, over the phone, through the web, by email, etc.
The customer experience has a much broader scope since it integrates what the client feels over the course of their overall journey, including the moments when the customer is and is not with an employee.
Because customer relationships can also be a source of great dissatisfaction, it often makes it into the list of management’s top concerns but it is important to remember that the customer experience is not limited to these moments only.
Third false belief: “CEM = CRM”
“Managing the customer experience (CEM)(2) is the new word describing a CRM(3)”
Not exactly! CRMs allow us to collect information and address customer expectations over the course of a product or service journey that the organization is “managing”. Though the two concepts are similar, at their core the CRM and the CEM have two fundamentally different philosophies.
The CRM considered the customer journey from the point of view of the organization whereas the CEM considers the journey through the eyes of the client.
Where the CRM’s objective is to control operations and measure impact, the CEM’s objective is to assign responsibility and steer efforts and resources to achieve the objectives outlined by the overall customer experience strategy. In other words, the CRM’s goal is to maximize efficiency of process where as the CEM’s goal is to understand the relevance of each action.
Finally, the CRM works to add value to the customer experience and ensure satisfaction compared to the CEM that works to give meaning to the buying experience, drive positive emotions, and create memories of the overall brand experience. When done right it moves a client from a loyal customer to a brand ambassador.
At Maïeutyk, we are not opposed to progress or by the idea of blending approaches. We are however strong proponents of their clarity and the simplicity of their operationalization.
It will be my pleasure to facilitate the development of your exceptional customer experience.
Mostafa El Adraoui
(1) Article inspired by «The Customer Experience», L. Body et C. Tallec, Eyerolles Ed. (2015)
(2) CEM = Customer Experience Management
(3) CRM = Customer Relationship Management