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Article 7 min read

Customer experience management advice from the pros

4 CXM tips from Zendesk’s own experts.

By Patrick Grieve

Last updated July 20, 2021

Stories of great customer experiences often go viral because they’re exceptional outliers. An airline saves the day by flying out a bridesmaid dress, or a support rep saves a life by realising the caller was having a stroke.

“We tend to think of customer experience as these big old moonshots, and going above and beyond, and just knocking their socks off,” says Samantha Chandler, one of Zendesk’s customer success team managers. “But what customers really want most is consistency.”

Customers want your company’s different departments working together to deliver that consistency. Over 70% of customers expect companies to collaborate on their behalf, and 68% get annoyed when their call is transferred between departments, according to Zendesk’s 2020 Customer Experience Trends Report.

Providing a smooth, consistent and customer centric experience across an entire organisation requires careful planning, close monitoring and continual adjustments. We talked to Zendesk’s experts for their thoughts on using customer experience management to deliver reliably great customer experience.

What is customer experience management (and why does it matter)?

Customer experience management, or CXM, is a company’s system for tracking, overseeing and influencing all customer contact points.

The purpose of CXM is to provide a consistent level of customer service, improve brand loyalty, and deepen engagement – whilst making it feel like a personalised experience for the customer.

All customer interactions fall under the purview of CXM—which can make it feel like a pretty big undertaking.

“Anything that the customer can interact with is part of the customer experience. You need to be managing that experience so that all your teams are working together to provide a seamless, pleasant experience.”
Dave Dyson, Senior Customer Service Evangelist at Zendesk

If you’re able to reliably deliver that sort of seamless service, it will fortify and eventually expand your customer base.

“A lot of emphasis is put on bringing in new customers, but you’ve also got to retain existing ones—especially in SaaS, where a lot of businesses are focused on ‘land and expand.’”
Brian Reuter, Director of Customer Success at Zendesk

Brian also points out that great customer experiences also benefit word of mouth and can attract additional new sales.

CXM is especially helpful for identifying and anticipating common customer complaints. The better you get at proactively addressing those issues, the lower your support costs become.

So why isn’t everyone reaping the benefits of customer experience management? In part, it’s because companies of all shapes and sizes often struggle to get their arms round all their contact points with customers. New startups are often disorganised, while large enterprises suffer from siloing different departments.

If your organisation has faced CXM challenges, consider these expert tips for overcoming them.

Tip 1: Balance internal goals with customer-facing objectives

Customer experience management pushes companies to evaluate their brand experience from the customer’s point of view, not the company’s. Without that angle, departments often set internal goals which conflict with the customer’s interests.

“Your departments often have metrics they’re trying to meet that are not customer-facing goals,” Dave explains. “Your support team might want to lower costs by 10%. And if you just focus on that, it can actually steer you into a worse customer experience at the same time as you’re meeting those goals.”

For example, trying to keep all customer conversations under five minutes will improve your call centre’s efficiency—but it will also probably translate into a terrible customer experience.

Before adopting any departmental or company-wide objective, it’s important to ask, “How will this affect the customer?”

“Getting people within the company focused on improving the customer experience can be a hard sell,” warns Dave. “Especially if you have a siloed organisation, or you don’t have a Chief Customer Officer.”

That’s why he feels it’s important to have leaders who are constantly beating the drum of “make it about the customer”.

Tip 2: Get executive buy-in for new initiatives

Whether you’re investing in CXM software, other parts of your tech stack, or even just a new customer-oriented strategy, it’s crucial that you have leadership’s backing.

“Executive sponsorship cannot be overstated when it comes to adoption and implementation,” Sam says. “In fact, only about a quarter of projects with no effective executive sponsorship actually make it off of the ground.”

To get executive buy-in, managers need to curate the most relevant data points. After all, executives often lack the time to look at a sea of numbers.

According to Brian, it helps if you’re able to both show the ROI of your proposed customer experience initiative and tell a compelling customer story about why you’re doing it.

“Show the long-term impact,” Brian advises. “Not just that a customer was upset once, but that the customer then tweeted about it and got other people upset, or later left us for the competition.”

Tip 3: Pull actionable CX insights from hard data

CXM strategies focus on both the experience of using your product or service and the experience of interacting with your business.

“If you’re tracking product complaints, that can help steer you towards product improvements,” says Dave. “If you’re tracking the customer journey from start to end, looking at all the touchpoints where customers interact with you and where those break down, that’s a good process, as well.”

Both processes require an automated system for capturing relevant data sets. Customer experience management software solutions such as Zendesk Explore provide instant access to all the customer analytics your company needs to be measuring:

  • Filter customer conversation by reason for contact, whether it’s product support, pricing concerns or any other issue

  • Integrate engagement data from every communication channel so you know how customers prefer to interact with your brand

  • Identify problem areas from support tickets

  • Quickly fix routing issues to improve support operations

  • See which support teams and agents have high or low CSAT (customer satisfaction) and one-touch ticket rates (here’s how to measure CSAT in Zendesk)

Use the data you capture to inform your operational adjustments and priorities. Find your customers’ pain points and do what it takes to relieve them.

When Dave was working as a customer support manager, he learned that one of the product integrations was leading to a high number of support tickets. With Zendesk software, he was able to track and organise tickets to investigate the issue. Agents used the drop-down menu on each support ticket to indicate what the conversation was about, and a time-tracking app recorded the amount of time spent on each ticket.

“We were able to say to the product team, ‘Here’s how much it costs us per month to support this feature,’” explains Dave. “I think giving them that kind of hard data helped them justify spending money to make those product improvements.”

Tip 4: Keep up with emerging communication channels

According to Zendesk’s 2020 CX Trends Report, less than 30% of companies offer self-service, live chat, social messaging, in-app messaging, bots or peer-to-peer communities. The study also found that among millennial and Gen Z customers, 30% usually resolve issues through chat, and 40% regularly use messaging.

That represents a big opportunity for many companies to outflank their competition by offering more digital communication channels. At the same time, Sam cautions against adding new channels just for the sake of adding them.

“If you just want to add chat, for example, because it’s got a high CSAT score and you want a high CSAT score, you should slow down a little bit,” cautions Sam. “Do you have the resources to take on a very active live channel like that? Do you have the first reply time benchmarks that will meet the expectations of somebody who is chatting in?”

If the CX data says your organisation cannot fully support a new channel, you may need to either increase your staff or temporarily stay with less intensive channels.

And even if you do have the bandwidth for multiple channels, keep your focus on the customer’s expectations. Leverage customer data to see which platforms your audience actually likes and focus your energy on those.

Explore your customer’s perspective with CXM software

You know your company has many moving parts, but consider what it looks like from the outside. Do customers feel they are getting passed around by different departments who don’t share information? Or are their concerns being understood, addressed, or even anticipated?

You need to oversee all aspects of CX – and you can with our customer experience management solutions. Zendesk Explore gives you insight into every customer interaction. It has pre-calculated common customer service metrics for you, so you’re able to immediately measure and act on your customer data. You can get started straight away with a free trial.

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