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The Customer Experience Redefined

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

What happens when any customer can find any product in many places, even far away in an entirely other economy; while at home, work, or on the go; and at any hour of the day? What happens when those products can be delivered, for free, as soon as the next day?

Customer experience management (CEM) as we know it is being completely redefined to meet the needs of a massively shifting buying landscape. Toss out the old assumptions and get ready to break the rules—CEM has a whole new meaning.

How Much Can You Manage Customer Experience?

A brand can’t expect to be able to truly manage the experience in the old way. The concept of managing anything is based on having a customer’s full attention and a certain expectation for a selling cycle (time, messages, process, follow-through). Those are assumptions that no longer exist when a customer can buy from anywhere, even in another brand’s physical location. Customers themselves are now in charge.

So what can a marketer do given these significant changes? For one, there needs to be a new consideration of how to get a customer’s attention. Customer loyalty programs are an obvious fit for getting the customer focus despite the distractions. Second, the experience can’t start and end at the point of purchase. A longer, deeper interaction with a customer guarantees the decision will, at minimum, include the brand when the time to buy arrives. Third, a brand needs to be where the customer’s interactions are taking place. Today, that includes physical locations (but not always), mobile, and social media.

Participating in Customer Experience

In the end, what a brand can realistically achieve is to participate in the customer’s experience. That participation involves having faster access to a customer’s circumstances, better analytics that explain the likelihood the customer will respond when engaged, and a smarter way to test and learn the best ways to improve that customer’s experience. This is the new reality of CEM and a better way to understand the changing task of managing what can be managed, and participating in the rest.

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