“With software, it’s not always easy to separate a CXM solution from other applications intertwined and provided in the same platform.”
The customer care industry is noted for an abundance of acronyms. In recent years, we successfully brought forth a new one— CXM, for “customer experience management.” The purpose of this article is to take an initial stab at defining what precisely constitutes a CXM solution.
We know who the players are for established product categories such as CRM, ACDs, workforce management and others. We also know what factors distinguish one from another, and the size and structure of the market. But we have no such data for CXM. Basic information of this nature is very important to companies that may wish to enter this space and for businesses that seek to invest in customer experience management solutions.
A good place to start is defining customer experience management itself. Several definitions have been set forward by respected analysts and academics. Gartner sums up customer experience management as: “The practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.” Professors Katherine Lemon and Peter Verhoef, in their article, “Understanding Customer Experience Throughout the Customer Journey” (Journal of Marketing, November 2016), concluded that customer experience was a “construct focusing on the customers cognitive, emotional, behavioral, sensorial and social responses to a firm’s offerings during the customer’s entire purchase journey.”
These definitions are useful in articulating the concept of customer experience, but in order to corral and categorize the myriad products and services that claim a CXM identity, we need something more specific. In the interest of simplicity, and after reviewing extensive research on the matter, we propose applying three “musts”:
- Must focus on improving the customer experience rather than the agent experience.
- Must be discrete and identifiable.
- Must be a new application or a new use for an existing application.
Granted, there is some blurriness in these definitions. Arguably, any application that improves the agent experience will at least indirectly improve the customer experience. And, with software, it’s not always easy to separate a CXM solution from other applications intertwined and provided in the same platform. Also, the “new” criterion is a bit subjective. The first identified use of the term customer experience management was in 2003, but in fact, the vast majority of CXMspecific solutions have been launched in the last five years.
Classifying CXM solutions
Currently there are more than 50 vendors, from Aquia to Zendesk, that provide CXM software which meets our proposed criteria. Solutions offered by these vendors can be broadly categorized into three groups, based on their purpose;
- Understanding of the customer experience process
- Providing analysis of customer behavior
- Expediting problem resolution or answering queries
The SIDEBAR provides a smattering of the specific solutions that would fall under each category.
UNDERSTANDING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROCESS
This most basic requirement for improving the customer experience is first to understand it. Customer experiences can be very complex, involving multiple channels and multiple points of contact.
CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPS are valuable tools for plotting out the contact points and individual processes consumers encounter when trying to resolve a problem or make a purchase. These “journeys” will vary depending on the purpose of the query. Customer journey mapping helps visualize the many pathways consumers take and identifies roadblocks that can be resolved through new processes, changes in policies or new technology.
ENTERPRISE FEEDBACK MANAGEMENT (EFM) systems are another essential tool for understanding the customer experience. EFM solutions differ from the more familiar voice of the customer (VoC) surveys in that feedback can be collected across every channel of business operations, providing a more holistic view of the customer experience. EFM captures customer exchanges among multiple touchpoints such as the call center, warranty and repair, credit and collections, and even personal encounters with retail salespersons and wait staff.
SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING TOOLS can mine text for specific keywords on social networking websites and blogs and in discussion forums and other social media. The software transposes specific words or phrases in unstructured data into numerical values that are linked to structured data in a database so the data can to be analyzed with traditional data mining techniques. This helps to determine what issues and concerns may be surfaced on popular websites, and helps vendors construct social media interfaces that are most helpful to consumers. Verint Engagement Management provides listening technology that analyzes the large quantities of constantly generated online commentary in real time. Depending on the criteria set, important comments can trigger an automated response or be routed to the contact center—or to any corporate department for follow up.
Classification of CXM Solutions
UNDERSTAND THE CX PROCESS
– Customer journey mapping
– Enterprise feedback management
– Social monitoring
PROVIDE ANALYSIS OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
– Speech and text analytics
– Predictive analytics
– Sentiment analysis
– Case management
– Knowledge management
– Decision guidance
ANALYSIS OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
Analytical tools are required to extract the sometimes hidden meaning behind observed behaviors.
SPEECH AND TEXT ANALYTICS can rapidly extract meanings and relationships among vast volumes of recorded and textual information. Since 100% of interactions can be analyzed, rather than just the sample, organizations are able to accurately measure and monitor the primary causes of customer queries and drill down to find causes for customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS uses advanced statistical models to predict consumer behavior based on known information such as purchase behavior, past customer contacts and demographics.
SENTIMENT ANALYSIS examines voice recordings to assess emotional reactions to interactions, such as satisfaction with the dialogue or disappointment with the ability to resolve problems.
The most significant driver of a positive customer experience is the organization’s ability to quickly and accurately resolve the issue that prompted the initial interaction. Not surprisingly, this category includes the largest toolset of the customer experience management suite. A short list would include case management, knowledge management, decision guidance, co-browsing, chatbots, video, social customer service and voice authentication.
CASE MANAGEMENT is a form of CRM but is designed for more complex queries that often require more than one contact to achieve resolution. Case management is often associated with hightouch interactions such as technical support, product repairs, major financial transactions in healthcare. Consumers are given tracking numbers that can be used for follow-up calls and, with some applications, can reconnect consumers with the same customer service person.
KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT is a process and technology that displays on demand information agents need to resolve queries. Quick search tools dramatically cut the time it would take to consult a subject-matter expert. The systems can aggregate and index textual and electronic information and are automatically updated as new information is fed into the system software. Web self-service tools like Q&As and internal search engines are cost-effective tools for less complex interactions.
DECISION GUIDANCE SOFTWARE uses algorithms to wade through the available options and select a small number of choices that are best-suited to the needs of the consumer. Live chat with co-browsing makes it easier still for consumers to evaluate available options. The software leverages applications such as predictive analytics to action expedite consumer decision-making.
Where to From Here?
The vendors that serve the emerging CXM market range from ambitious startups with funny names like Qubit and CloudCherry to giants of the industry such as IBM, Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle and SAS. It seems that everyone is jumping on the CXM bandwagon.
The vast majority of players are small and specialize in only one or a handful of CXM functions. However, traditional contact center vendors such as Aspect, NICE, Verint and Salesforce.com offer multiple CXM solutions. Looking forward, we can anticipate the emergence of fully integrated multifunction and multichannel CXM suites offered over a single platform, similar to the evolution of the WFO (Workforce Optimization) suite.
Dick Bucci is the Principal and Chief Analyst at Pelorus Associates
– Reprinted with permission from Contact Center Pipeline, http://www.contactcenterpipeline.com