A recent report from Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein about trends in Digital Marketing for 2014 begins with the results of a recent survey. Conducted by Econsultancy and Adobe, they asked companies to indicate the single most exciting opportunity for their organization in 2014.
The number one answer was Customer Experience.
Friedlein predicts that ‘customer experience management’ (CEM) will become a popular catch-all phrase this year—covering many existing disciplines and offerings including CMSs (Content Management Systems), ESPs (Email Service Providers), and ”Optimization-Targeting-Analytics offerings”.
Only time will tell if “CEM” will become the next industry buzzword and how quickly businesses will explicitly embrace this function within their organizational hierarchy. However, the Econsultancy survey results show that many organizations are realizing that the customer experience has become fragmented with strategies and tactics developed for individual points in the customer lifecycle rather than a seamless experience delivered consistently across every touch point throughout the customer lifecycle.
The importance of delivering a consistent customer experience is certainly not new or groundbreaking. It seems intuitive that any organization would want to interact with its customers thoughtfully. But the explosion of specialty tools and experts focused on optimizing every individual point along the customer journey has sometimes resulted in an overall experience that is disjointed. When efforts to optimize acquisition (SEM, SEO, Social, Display, Email, etc), conversion (Personalization, A/B and MVT testing, etc.), and retention (Loyalty programs, Trigger-based emails, Satisfaction surveys, etc.) occur in siloes seeking to maximize the probability of an individual taking a specific action at a specific time, the overall customer experience suffers.
To succeed as businesses we must understand who our customers are and how to interact with them across channels throughout their experience. We must manage these interactions holistically with a comprehensive and coordinated strategy for customer experience.
Many organizations already understand the customer lifecycle and simply need to reorganize around the idea of bringing these efforts together. Other organizations lack experience in the customer lifecycle but can seek help from vendors with experience in developing these holistic strategies. Either way, most organizations will benefit from having a single decision maker with the responsibility of delivering a consistent customer experience throughout every customer touch point.
In fact, respondents to the Econsultancy survey also indicated that ‘Customer Experience’ would still be the most exciting opportunity 5 years from now, which suggests organizations are embracing this mentality for the future. This contrasts with other channel-specific opportunities (such as Mobile and Social) that the survey suggests will become business as usual during the next five years.
In the years to come organizations, both client-side and vendor-side, need to recognize the importance of the overall customer experience and plan around the idea of customer experience management as a holistic discipline—one important enough for some organizations to have C-suite representation in the form of the Chief Customer Officer.