Even though more and more businesses embrace a customer-first philosophy, many still seem to struggle to provide impeccable customer experiences. Creating customer-based strategies is indeed an excellent way to strive to edge ahead of the competition, as we’ve argued in the past. However, customer experience strategies differ from customer service, or indeed customer relationship management (CRM) alone. That said, CRM software is an invaluable ally in such efforts in many substantive ways. Thus, in this article we’d like to explore ways to create a customer experience strategy with CRM, starting from the basics.

What is the customer experience (CX)?

Initially, let us define the term, “customer experience”. It can be fairly vague, so a concise definition can help contextualize strategies around it. The customer experience is the overall experience a customer has with your business, across all four phases of their journey:

  • Discovery
  • Research
  • Conversion
  • Post-sale

As such, CX is an overarching term that stretches across the entire customer journey. To consolidate this argument, consider the two following common misconceptions.

  1. “CX is customer service”. Customer service is indeed a big part of CX. However, customer service alone does not comprise CX. It’s an integral part of it, but it is mostly limited to the later phases of a customer journey.
  2. “CX is customer loyalty”. Customer loyalty and advocacy are indeed great metrics to gauge CX against. However, they are direct results of a successful CX strategy – and only two among many, at that.

Customer experience strategy and/or customer experience management (CXM/CEM)

A man in a white shirt taking a call on a computer.
Customer service is undoubtedly important to CX, but it’s only one of many factors.

With this definition in mind, it should be much easier to define such strategies and CXM. In short, CXM informs strategies that intend to holistically improve CX. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • An accessible, clean website
  • Personalized marketing
  • Multi-channel or omni-channel communication
  • Quality service and support
  • Loyalty and advocacy incentives

These, and others, highlight the ways to create a customer experience strategy with CRM software. After all, managing customer relationships and accumulating actionable data are central pillars to CXM by definition.

Create a customer experience strategy with CRM

With an effective CRM strategy in hand, creating an efficient customer experience strategy becomes much easier. So, with a consolidated database, marketing automation tools, and a clear vision for success, you can optimize CXM in easy, substantive steps.

#1 Review your current customer experience

A smiling, a neutral, and a frowning face drawn on paper.
Customer feedback is easier to collect and can complement your CRMs insights.

The very first step should be to evaluate your current CX. Even if you don’t have a solid CX strategy in place, your customers do have a specific CX quality to gauge.

Measure key performance indicators (KPIs)

Analyze your current performance across multiple areas to begin assessing your CX. This can include:

In this regard, CRM can help consolidate your data and highlight shortcomings and pain points.

Examine your Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Similarly, your Net Promoter Score can provide clear insights into your CX. You can acquire such insights through social media surveys and other feedback platforms. Fortunately, customers are very eager to provide honest, direct feedback on their CX.

Examine your internal culture

Finally, gauging one’s business’s culture is indeed harder, but is also highly actionable. Examine your internal culture, from CRM adoption rates and activity to conduct in internal communication channels, to measure how much your team values CX.

#2 Define your customer experience strategy objectives

With those insights in hand, you may begin crafting your CX strategy. As with all business efforts, you need to set specific, clear objectives from the very beginning. Therefore, you should establish S.M.A.R.T. goals to achieve a clear vision:

  • Specific – what are your exact goals in clear terms?
  • Measurable – can specific metrics accurately measure success?
  • Achievable – are your goals within reach with your current scope?
  • Realistic – how realistic are your goals in relation to your resources?
  • Timely – are your goals time-bound to specific timeframes?

Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals in this stage is invaluable, as it provides a solid foundation for your efforts. Furthermore, it provides a point of reference to measure monitoring insights against.

#3 Acquire deep, accurate customer insights

A magnifying glass with a questionmark over black silhouettes of people.
Knowing your customers is absolutely vital to ensure effective CXM.

Optimizing your CX hinges on actually knowing your customers. In this regard, CRM software provides an invaluable asset to acquiring such actionable insights. Consider the following CRM tools and functionalities:

  • Customer interaction history
  • Customer segmentation tools
  • Lead analysis tools
  • Profitability analysis
  • Predictive modeling

These and others, depending on your unique business needs, can reliably help you create a customer experience strategy with CRM. What’s more, you can integrate survey tools, Single Customer Profile (SCP) tools, and other existing assets into your CRM database.

#4 Understand your customers: create personas and use customer journey mapping

With such insights in hand, you can begin to act on your data. In this regard, consider the following CRM segmentation criteria:

  • Age and gender
  • Education and income
  • Behavioral patterns and spending habits

Thus, with a clear understanding of your target audiences, you may begin creating customer personas. Most businesses typically have 3-5 main personas to cater to, but this will of course depend on your business. Use CRM insights to create personas that fit your existing business model, and begin mapping their customer journey.

As you do, remember that following a customer journey needs to fully align with your personas. Consider each persona’s characteristics, needs, behaviors, and emotions across the journey to map it correctly. Then, compare your CRM records to your customer journey mapping to ensure accuracy and prevent potential oversights.

#5 Identify and address pain points across the customer journey

Finally, CX strategies fully depend on your entire customer journey. Thus, having established variables in your customer journey maps, consider optimizations across the board that can improve CX:

  • Discovery phase – what CX do your landing pages and website provide?
  • Research phase – how compelling is your offer and how is it presented?
  • Conversion phase – what’s the quality of your customer service to drive conversions?
  • Post-sale engagement – does your customer support and communication incite engagement and loyalty?

As you do, your CRM can continue to provide actionable data across all 4 phases for you to tap into and act on.

Conclusion: improve your customer experience strategy with CRM

CXM is essential in the age of customer-centric business, and so is CRM. In cooperation, the two can help manage customer relationships, acquire insights, foster loyalty, and improve CX across the board. In the digital age, technology can be your trusted ally that ensures continued growth and success.

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