Why Building a Strong Foundation for CRM with 'Customer Experience' Ensures Continual Growth

It is a proven fact that customers are the nuclei of organisations – this customer-company bond is further strengthened by a superlative Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. To establish a lasting relationship with customers, it is crucial to understand critical and diverse Customer Experience (CE) dimensions, and then work towards meeting, probably even exceeding customer expectations. The natural consequences will be intensified customer loyalty, and the resultant higher sales will elevate profitability. Designing unrivalled customer experiences will not only augment customer acquisition, retention, loyalty, and profitability; but will also eliminate the possibilities of negativity proclamation and the backlashes that result therein.

Ensuring CRM success
Customer experiences are interwoven with an organisation’s people, processes and technologies. As the number of customer touch-points across various departments continues to grow, it becomes necessary for organisations to monitor, manage and amend these scattered touch-points because each of them impact the overall customer experience. Also, because the proliferation of mobile and social channels has infinitely multiplied, the magnification of negative customer experiences is quick - ensuring nothing but the best customer experiences in recent times has become even more essential.

It is mandatory for businesses to ensure a perfect understanding, motivation and empowerment of workforces, and also work towards a perfect alignment of systems, technologies and processes with the driven workforce on one side, and loyal customers and prospects on the other.

Customer experience management
Customer experience management includes devising positive and fruitful customer-company encounters which are bound to elevate customer satisfaction. Focusing on customers and capturing the Voice of Customer (VoC) is a must, as it will ensure that optimal CE is delivered which will have positive results for the organisation as well.

With each encounter and interaction with companies and their workforce along with the utilisation of customer facing processes/ technologies, customers decide - positive, negative or neutral experience. These inferences can be literally become value mines for organisations, and hence customer experiences cannot be detached from CRM initiatives, if companies wish to outdo competition and sustain brand quality and goodwill. This is precisely why the requisite to correctly manage customer experience assumes great importance.

'Customer 360 View' across touch points
With every subsequent customer experience getting better than the previous, customer satisfaction and loyalty is raised, naturally improving customer retention. Increased sales, reduction in marketing and other costs improve as a consequence. It could be safely said that not giving customer experience the attention it deserves will have cost implications, revenues and profits will be lowered, and sales may also see a dip.

From the customer perspective, unpleasant experiences adversely affect loyalty and satisfaction, which has a directly negative effect on the brand. As discussed before, multiplicity in mobile, online and social platforms have become the latest communication fads, and there is an increasing dependency on external communities to seek recommendations and validations about companies, their products and services. This leads to customers amplifying and sometimes even distorting their unhappiness and dissatisfaction, which makes it even more important to always offer outstanding customer experience.

Why the emphasis on a positive Customer Experience?
A recent survey has shown that in exchange for an extraordinary CE, customers willingly spend a larger portion of their wallet, make more recommendations through word-of-mouth, and stretch their association with the organisation for a longer period of time. When customers have a congenial attitude towards the enterprise, a direct effect on the bottom line can be experienced - higher sales, lower overall costs, and even increased early renewal rates.

Shunning customer experience is sure to push customers over to competitors. Studies have found that a poor customer experience is the number one cause why customers begin doing business with a rival. Therefore, it is of prime importance for organisations to commit all the necessary and relevant resources to ensure central management and constant improvement of customer experiences. As discussed, the rewards of positive CE are plenty. At the same time, poor CE can damage a company and brand's reputation within minutes .

Formula for success
An intelligent CRM strategy places customer experience at the centre, and all other activities revolve around this one pivotal objective. However, it often happens that companies pay so much attention to their own organisational benefits, that the focus on CE starts dwindling. Successful CRM solutions are those which manage to strike the right balance between organisational and operational enhancements, and top notch customer experiences. With improvements in internal processes along with an upsurge in productivity and efficiency - profitability, lead conversion and ROI boosts then become inevitable.

3 phases to ensure positive customer experience
To constantly ascertain that customer experience keeps getting better, organisations need to mould processes and touch-points in a way that the value of offerings and brand reflections are in sync with the expectations and objectives of customers. Once this designing/ moulding is successfully completed, every single touch-point influencing customer needs should be optimised and aligned for undeviating delivery assurance. Following this, the necessity of assessing customer satisfaction emerges, along with the mandate of constantly enriching their experiences even further.

Alignment of organisational design has to be matched with the before, during and after stages of the customer experience. The action plan in each of the stages is highlighted below:
  • Before – involves understanding the customer inside-out, shaping processes and designs in congruence to customer expectations, and going all out to generate rich value.
  • During – involves timely delivery of anticipated customer expectations and ensuring utmost efficiency. Importantly, meeting and where feasible, exceeding customer expectations.
  • Listening to VoC – involves continual monitoring of customer experiences, measuring reactions, studying emotions, identifying areas for improvement followed by taking corrective action, and refining processes on an ongoing basis.
In a recent survey, researchers found that 79% customers agreed overall experience is the most critical factor when making a purchase and 74% did not mind spending additional money for a "unique" experience. An effective CRM solution will ensure all relevant teams can collaboratively work towards identifying 'game changing' experiences and product innovations to lure new customers and increase repeat purchases.