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Understanding Customer Experience Management (CEM)


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Winning new customers is always harder than retaining your existing ones. The Customer acquisition costs (CAC) are quite high in most consumer segments and very high in almost all B2B segments. Thus, it is imperative that you provide the right experience to retain your existing customers and also have them bring new customers from their network. Customer Experience Management (CEM) helps you optimize your customer interactions and deliver the best experience possible, to foster loyalty. With CEM, the goal is not just have satisfied customers, but loyal fans and passionate advocates among them. It goes beyond a traditional CRM (Customer Relations Management) that just tries to streamline the interactions. Think of Apple or Google fanboys, who are unpaid ambassadors for the company and will defend every decision taken by the company. CEM is a strategy that adjusts a company’s operations and processes to revolve around the experiences of the customer.

5 major components of the CEM model

1. Customer – Understanding the customer’s various needs is fundamental to CEM. It requires identifying different types of customers, their gender, demographic, cultural contexts etc. and then finding out the right way to impress each customer segment. Understanding cultural factors are very important. Your messaging, positioning and strategy must take care of the cultural sensitives and expectations.

    • For instance, if you are an automobile manufacturer selling in multiple markets, you would understand that your Japanese customers might be more interested in how fuel-efficient & gadget-centric your car is, while your American customers might be more interested in how powerful and roomy is the vehicle. You don’t need to play to everybody in the world. Just find your customer niche and look to wow them.

2. Environment – This involves the channels through which the customer discovers your product/service, complementary products and the competitive landscape. Essentially, in this component we try to reduce the impediments in the environment involved in the sale by getting the brand discovered easily. Things to consider include, store location, distribution of sales team, choosing the right channels (web/mobile/physical store) etc. It could also involve bringing new sale platforms (mobile apps, facebook apps) to help the customer easily get into your offerings.

3. Platform – This component is about focusing on the operations to help customers get the right experience. The platform includes your workforce, policies, pricing and technology. You have to answer questions, such as:

    • Are our frontline employees sufficiently trained to impress the customer by suitably answer their queries? 
    • Are our policies and ToCs slowing down the adoption? 
    • Are our technology platforms impeding some customers from effectively using our product? 

4. Brand  – This involves the visual identity and the various messages – slogans, tweets, facebook timeline covers, taglines – that identify the company. Brands have to reflect the customer’s needs and aspirations. Apple, for instance, makes its products predominantly in white/silver to indicate class, luxury and perfection.

5. Interface – In this component, we will focus on how the customer interacts with your company. This would involve paying attention to the channel and making the sales pipeline easy for the customer to complete the sale. For products, it would involve focusing on the User Experience (UX) and usability. Google’s search homepage still has a simple search box and focuses on the delivering very fast page load times and query return times. That is an example of paying attention to the interface. If your website, for instance, has 10 steps to go through before a customer can signup, you are bound to fail. Also, if you have limited payment options that doesn’t satisfy majority of your customers, you need to add more. The CEM model helps you find such gaps and approach it in a methodical manner.

A right approach to CEM, can help you significantly improve your customer experience and turn many satisfied customers into passionate fans.

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