In order to establish, strengthen and sustain lasting customer relationships, customer experience management is a necessity for businesses of all kinds.

Customer experience represents the process of managing a customer’s entire experience with a service provider. In this sense, customer experience management represents the collection of processes a company uses to track and organize every customer interaction during a customer life-time journey.

The insights into all touch points of the overall customer experience then allow the service provider to continuously improve performance and raise satisfaction levels. Over time, this may open new opportunities for business development and joint innovation projects.

To create sustaining and strong relationships, the ability to systematize, refine and document the physical part of service delivery is critical. At the same time, one should not underestimate the importance of managing the emotional aspects of a customer relation. Undoubtedly, these also play a vital role in any great customer experience.

To successfully manage Customer Experience, STEPUP will work to help your organization through a structured approach as follows:

Needs Assessment and Segmentation

The starting point is to understand what customer needs are, what drives them, what challenges them, and what they need from suppliers’ products and services. Coupled with this is the segmentation of customers into groupings which enable us to see and serve the customer more specifically. This can be based on ‘firmographics’ (i.e. known facts about the customer such as geography, company size, or sector), behaviors (i.e. what they buy, when they buy, where they trade, etc.), or on needs (i.e. what they want, where they are going, what their drivers are). The latter is the most discriminating and requires a deeper understanding of customers to achieve.

Customer Journey Mapping

This involves constructing a detailed customer journey map for each of the customer segments. It is important to look at individual segments in this exercise as their journeys may differ. The customer journey map details the customer touchpoints with the supplier from the first awareness through to usage and, if appropriate, termination of usage.

Identify the Desired Experience

The customer journey map is then used to design the ideal customer experience. This stage is about reflecting on the customer journey map and comparing the actual experience with the internally perceived experience. Customer journey mapping enables the organization to review its processes and streamline these to make the experience more effective, efficient, and enjoyable for customers; one which they will want to repeat and to tell others about.

Design the Brand Experience

This stage is about emotion; it addresses the feelings that we want to evoke in customers in their experiences with the brand. To design the brand experience, it is important to have a clear vision of the brand identity and values. These are often translated into ‘promises’ which will underpin the customer experience in terms of what they can expect from the relationship with the brand. They are usually generated around positive emotions which draw the customer into a closer relationship with the brand. This stage also involves looking at the people who deliver the experience, their attitudes, and how much they reflect what the brand represents when working with customers.

Structure the Customer Touchpoints

Here the various touchpoints for the customer are structured to ensure the processes are in place to deliver the experience for the customer—one which generates the desired emotions associated with the brand to deliver longer-term loyalty. This touchpoint analysis stage is often quite process driven, looking at ownership across the business for the various touchpoints, and ensuring that the experience is seamless, and the brand value delivered across all the touchpoints.

Measure and Develop

This is the closing of the loop; measuring performance. There are several approaches to measuring the customer experience, not least the measurement of the return on the investment in financial terms. Common customer survey measures utilized are:

  • The periodic customer satisfaction survey — the ‘deep dive’ considered overview of the customer experience
  • The event-based satisfaction survey — centered around a specific interaction, delivered very shortly after the interaction
  • The tracking survey — a regular, random survey of customers, tracking perceptions and performance on key measures

This data is used both strategically and operationally to make improvements for individual customers (usually key B2B accounts), groups of customers (segments which have particular needs), or all customers (general themes which would improve the experience across the business).

Customer Experience Management (CEM) and Voice of the Customer (VOC) are both programs which raise the profile of the customer in the long-term security of the business, recognizing customers as an asset for the business and thus worthy of boardroom consideration. The approach incorporates and brings together customer research in the form of needs assessment, customer segmentation, customer journey mapping, brand identity and perceptions, and satisfaction and loyalty measurements.