“How are you currently measuring the actual customer contact experience of your customers?”

Quantifying customer experiences across customer segments is essential in order to identify both opportunities for increasing revenue from customers and risks of customer defection. This article will provide an introduction to an emerging area of CRM, defining actual customer contact experience; a methodology currently gaining momentum. This area also promises to provide deeper insight into customer behavior and enhanced communication with an organization’s customers.

Your customers encounter an experience at every touch-point in the process of your service delivery, from the advertisements they see, usage of your product and services to interaction with your organization’s service personnel. This experience distinguishes your organization from all of the others that do business with these customers. Most organizations neglect the intangibles of the customer experience, and yet these aspects of the experience have the power to impact the future relationship customers will have with your organization.

Most organizations fail to factor in the customer experience when adding enhancements to their customer interactions. The measurements they use to assess customer satisfaction focus heavily on product and service features and benefits. These measures prove to be poor indicators of customer churn and cross/ up-sell opportunities. The best predictors of these outcomes are measures that define the customer experience at crucial points of customer interactions, yet receive almost no attention in customer satisfaction surveys. Monitoring and managing these experiences to provide consistently positive customer experiences can decrease customer churn, increase cross-sell/ up-sell opportunities, and enhance customer wallet share.

When an interaction has been a poor experience for a customer, it is usually because that interaction has fallen short of the customer’s expectations. This “gap” between the customer’s expectations and the actual experience occur when organizations treat all customers as if they are the same. This “one-service-fits-all” mentality assumes that every customer has the same service experience expectation, regardless of the customer’s personality type, the customer’s stage in the product life-cycle, or the channel the customer prefers for the interaction. The reality is that customers expect to have a distinct experience that reaches them personally, because this kind of experience acknowledges who they are and reflects their value to the organization.

The Customer Experience – Creating the best interactions for your customers often do not address whether the experience you have created is suitable for the particular customer targeted. This occurs because customers with different personality types at different stages of the customer life-cycle are impacted differently by distinct experiences at preferred points of interaction with an organization. With this mismatch, a promotion may yield a disappointing response because customers simply are not getting the message that was intended. To prevent this mismatch, and to improve the opportunities for favorable outcomes, the organization needs to have an understanding of the three sectors of the customer experience.

Customer Life-Cycle – What stage of the life-cycle is this customer in? New, current, advocate, ending or renewing?

Service Contact Point Experiences – How, where and when are the contact point experiences this customer has interacted with? How was the experience for the customer? Fabulous or disastrous? What is the customers opinion on repeat business?

Customer Personality Type – What personality types are these customers? Is this customer more likely to want her situation dealt with promptly without any additional service? Is this customer more likely to prefer a relationship built with him/her?

Understanding the three sectors above will enable an organization to better understand and deliver a favorable customer experience by tailoring service delivery approaches based on data; a quantifiable measure of designing customer service delivery strategy.