4 min readThe perfect customer experience & CRM

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In this blog, I’m going to summarise what Liz Roche, Director of Enterprise Strategy at Microsoft Services and Jeff Marcoux, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft Dynamics CRM said at their session at Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2014: ‘Digital Marketing and CRM: The art of possible and science of the probable around dynamic customer relationships.’

The main message of the talk was that technology changes human behaviour. A simple example: when was the last time your mobile phone was more than 10 feet away from you?

And can you remember being this attached to your phone 20 years ago?

It may be difficult but it’s worth it

Today, 40% of all internet traffic is coming from mobile devices. For a marketer, this means that the focus needs to be shifted accordingly. All touch points must be mobile-responsive, especially the website.

But this is far from all that you have to do to be able to stay on top of today’s pace of change. The purpose of adapting your business to relevant new technologies is not only to generate more leads, but, perhaps more importantly, to enhance your customers’ experience.

During their talk, Liz and Jeff argued that there’s a need for a new CEO – Customer Experience Optimisation. As you already know the power balance between a supplier and a buyer has shifted significantly in the past few years. This means your customers can decide to switch to your competitor much more easily than 15 years ago. However, if you manage to delight them every time you interact with them, why would they ever risk leaving you?

According to a recent research by Watermark Consulting that was carried out in 2007-2011, businesses that delivered great customer experience as the first in their market generated revenue that was 27% higher than the broader market, and 128% higher than those who only started focusing on customer experience years after the market CxP leader.

What does this mean? You can’t lose out by treating your customers exceptionally – now.

Unite your strategy

Jeff suggested that to design the perfect customer experience, you need to integrate your strategy, brand, marketing (marketing ROI) and technology implementation across all your digital and traditional channels. Some of us dislike the word ‘holistic approach’, but this concept is exactly what exceptional customer experience is about: creating a world in which your brand is unified and stands for excellence.

As well as integrating your business processes, you also need to integrate all your customer data into one database. Why? So that Sales, Marketing and Support are on the same page when communicating with your leads – no more asking the same question twice. Working from one database also speeds up the process of passing over leads and allows your teams to act upon a single set of criteria for qualified leads.

Another advantage of having all customer information in one place is being able to analyse their profitability throughout the customer’s lifecycle. This way you can determine which types of customers are most profitable for your business, and decide about focusing your entire resources on them – because it’s much better to delight your more profitable customers than to deliver great customer experience to the ones that cost you more than what they spend.

Customer’s point of view

Another important thing to pay attention to when designing customer experiences is the fact that your customer’s idea of the relationship is quite different from your idea. In business, we are used to dividing the sales funnel into certain stages (for example: attraction, acquisition, development, retention and growth); and so are our customers – the trouble is, their stages are different.

According to Liz, customer’s stages look more like this: engagement (for example, seeing an ad on LinkedIn), transaction (request for information, buying a product), fulfilment (delivery of request) and post-sale service (answering questions, service transaction). Once this chain of events has taken place, it happens all over again. To take advantage of this process, you need to plan a process that takes these stages into consideration.

The macro & micro journey

Liz & Jeff suggested creating customer journey plan that defines not just the customer macro journey (major events like the first and last point of contact, sales conversion etc.), but the micro journey – which includes every step of the way. Design how you’re going to engage your customers on every level of their customer journey – throughout the 4 aforementioned stages (engagement, transaction, fulfilment, service). Plan what you’ll do to interact with them and what the goal of each interaction will be (for example, offer them samples of your product with the goal of getting them to give you more information about themselves).

Next, define the channel through which the transaction is going to take place (a sales rep) and an interaction point through which you’ll let the customer know about this offer (phone call). Finally, decide which business process will be dominant in this action (sales, marketing, support).

Remember that your planning ahead must be flexible enough to take advantage of new opportunities. This means not planning everything to the last detail, but rather defining a clear path that you’ll follow and creating a formula for refusing and accepting new opportunities as they emerge.