I find that customer experience management (CEM) means different things to people. Recently I attended a seminar organized by Rapide, a U.K. technology vendor that specializes in helping companies improve their interactions with customers. The seminar included talks from speakers I don’t normally associate with CEM, and they opened up a new perspective that revolves around a concept I first explored while working at Price Waterhouse Consulting: Moments of Truth.

The idea is simple. After consumers interact with a company in some way (for example, see an advertisement, visit a website, try to use a product, call the contact center, visit social media or even talk to a friend), they are left with a perception or feeling about that company. If the feeling is good, they feel satisfied, if it is bad they are unhappy; in either case they have had a Moment of Truth. Adding up all these moments of truth, a company can gauge their overall satisfaction level, their propensity to remain loyal and buy more, and the likelihood they will say good or bad things about the company to friends or on social media. Rapide has taken this idea to an extreme, creating a website called Rant and Rave that allows consumers to react to moments of truth immediately after they have the experience.

Moments of truth raise two major challenges for companies. First, they occur during all interactions, and companies generally are not good at controlling or even monitoring the handling of and response to interactions, which occur in different business units through different communication channels or at different times. My benchmark research into customer experience management highlighted this issue as the majority of companies said that achieving consistency was one of their major challenges. One of the speakers at this seminar outlined two possible solutions to help companies address this issue. The first is personas, with which companies develop profiles of their ideal customers that include their motivators and behavior patterns. With these personas in mind, companies can plan the best ways to deal with interactions. The other suggestion was a twist on developing the “customer journey”; this examines from the customer’s perspective the moments of truth a customer is likely to encounter during the lifetime of business with a company, and also helps planning on how to handle interactions at different points in the journey. Other speakers reminded the audience that consumer behaviours have changed dramatically over the last few years: Customers are more demanding and expect instant, personalized responses; people do more on the move using smartphones and tablets; and social media gives everyone a forum. Companies have to respond to these changes or suffer the consequences of continuing in outmoded ways. One speaker is researching the relationship between what consumers say and their likely behaviour and his early results support the fact that consumer motivators have changed but there is still a large element of emotion driving decisions rather than pure logic.

The second challenge involving moments of truth is that they happen in real time, and if companies get it wrong there is likely no time to put things right. The key here is getting feedback during or immediately after the interaction. Several speakers made the point that this is where mobile and social media have a dramatic impact since they allow customers to post to social media from their smartphone or tablet as soon as they finish an interaction or even during the interaction if they are motivated enough. Analytics can play a major role at this point. The advent of real-time speech, text and social media analytics allows companies to capture and analyze what customers are saying during or immediately after an interaction. As a result, for example, a supervisor could join a call, the content of a Web page could be personalized, or someone could post a response to social media; done properly, each of these can turn a bad experience into a positive one. Text analytics also allows companies to derive insight from free-form text, which can often provide more insight than a structured survey.

In the past CRM was supposed to be the solution to attaining, retaining and keeping customers happy. Sadly many companies find it does not live up to those expectations because it addresses internal issues such as managing marketing campaigns and tracking sales opportunities and customer service cases. Moments of truth and the customer experience focus outward on the customer, and so they help companies become more customer-centric and manage how they interact with customers. Managed over the customer’s lifetime they can deliver happier customers that remain loyal and buy more. How customer-centric is your company? Do you pay attention to the customer journey and the experiences customers have along the way? If so, tell us more and come collaborate with me.

Regards

Richard Snow – VP & Research Director