The impact on customers of a truly frictionless customer experience (CX) is undeniable.
A 2018 study by The Tempkin Group found companies that earn $1 billion each year could expect on average an additional $700 million in revenue within three years of investing in CX.
Further, according to the Digital Trends report produced by Adobe and Econsultancy, B2B companies said the “single most exciting opportunity for 2020” was CX, beating out content marketing, data-driven marketing, video marketing and social media marketing.
The fact is that customers don’t base their loyalty to a brand solely on the company’s products or price. Today’s main driver of loyalty is the experience customers get from that company.
It’s proven that improving CX can lead to increased customer retention, increased customer satisfaction, and increased cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
But many companies experience a stagnation in CX for one main reason: They devise a plan for creating a robust CX, yet haven’t mastered CX management.
A company will find it hard to consistently create good CX if they don’t have a solid customer feedback management (CFM) program.
The CFM market is growing because more CX pros see the technology as essential to addressing their top challenges and transforming CX. CX pros increasingly trust CFM vendors to act as strategic partners, enabling them to move from reacting to customer problems to avoiding them through advanced features.
— Faith Adams, author of a 2018 Forrester Research study on CFM platforms
What Exactly is CFM?
CFM is a process. It’s collecting and taking customers’ feedback on various aspects of their experience and using that feedback to make improvements.
This can be done in several ways, from customer surveys and polls to analyzing data on what incentivizes or disincentivizes customers to make purchases. How you gather feedback isn’t as important as the fact that you actually do it.
The great part about customer feedback is that it’s constantly happening in real time. As customers see your social media ad, for instance, you can glean feedback from how many people responded by clicking on it or taking an action you promoted. In this way, you can A/B test different messages and see what works and what doesn’t.
But CFM isn’t all about obtaining binary, this-or-that answers to only a few aspects of your business. It’s about listening to your customers’ feedback on all aspects of how they interact with your business so you can improve CX.
Here’s the interesting part about CFM: you won’t often find that making things easier for your customer is better. What today’s customers search for is an emotional connection to the products they buy and the companies they do business with.
Take Ikea, for example. All their furniture must be put together after you purchase it. While you can get the furniture assembled by a professional, that service comes with a fee.
While delivering already-assembled furniture would certainly make it a simpler process for their customers, it wouldn’t actually result in better CX.
Because people have a stronger emotional connection to Ikea because of the sense of accomplishment they get with putting their furniture together.
Don’t believe me? Enjoy this 12-minute TED Talk by Dan Ariely on “What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work?”
The Importance of CFM for CX
Rick Parrish, a vice president and principal analyst for Forrester, said companies can’t improve CX until they’ve improved CX management — and that can only be done by professionalizing or systemizing the process.
Parrish, one of the authors of Forrester’s “Top Customer Experience Research Findings of 2018” report, said companies need to perform CX management with rigor, in a way that’s proven to be effective, then document it so the processes are reproducible.
Company leaders may think they’re reinforcing behaviors necessary to continually improve quality CX when, in fact, they are reinforcing other behaviors. Knowing what behaviors cause improved CX and tracking them through real-world data is where CFM programs thrive.
CFM Starts with a CX Strategy
The thing is, you can’t implement a tool to track customer feedback if you don’t have a good CX strategy in place. It’s hard to know where to focus the management without such a strategy.
As Parrish said, if you don’t have a good strategy, you won’t even know where you’re going.
There are key questions you need to ask as you build your CFM plan:
- What do we need to work on?
- Who is this for?
- Where do we have gaps?
- How do we know whether we’ve gotten there?
If you aren’t able to answer these questions, it will be difficult to know what things you must do to improve CX and/or whether the things you’re doing now are working.
Good CX has a beginning, but never an end. At the start is a plan, a strategy. What comes next is the most important part: How you manage that strategy through CFM.