Who wants to be a customer experience manager?
A relatively new job title in the customer service space, customer experience manager is more than just a fancy title – it is the glue that holds the customer service center together.
Customer experience management is top of mind for a range of industries today, as customer experience is now viewed as a key differentiator for businesses in a world where competition is greater than ever before and price differentiation is no longer enough.
To successfully deliver this, companies need to hire a customer experience manager (CEM) to ensure that the customer journey, across all touch-points, is pleasant and efficient. Success at this should, in all likelihood, result in higher customer satisfaction, improved cross- and up-sell opportunities and an increase in both loyalty and referral rates.
So, just what is involved in such a job? What is expected of the CEM, what are the main responsibilities of such a role and what are the key challenges facing someone in this position?
Customer Experience Managers And Training Contact Center Agents
First and foremost, the CEM is expected to ensure that the customer service department operates efficiently and effectively, in order to optimize the interaction between an organization and its clients. To achieve this, CEMs need to take responsibility for creating and implementing strategies designed to boost both the customer relationship and the end-user’s satisfaction.
Such strategies should focus on ensuring that clients are able to reach out to the business via the channel of their choice, as well as making sure that the company can also communicate with the client in a similar manner. A key part of the job is guiding contact center agents towards ensuring that their interactions with customers always reflect the enterprise in a positive light, and to guarantee rapid responses to any and all inquiries and questions.
It is important for CEMs to oversee proper training for agents, to ensure an effective workforce and to analyze and interpret customer interactions, in order to be able to correctly identify current and future requirements, as this is vital information when it comes to optimizing the customer experience moving forward.
Furthermore, the CEM has to liaise with other business units within the organization – such as marketing, sales and advertising – in order to obtain a complete picture of customer feedback, thereby positioning themselves and their company in such a way as to be able to develop programs that will improve the customer experience not only in the contact center, but across the entire organization.
Another aspect of the role is to monitor the activities of customer service staff, in order to ensure they comply with agreed upon standards of courtesy and professionalism, and also to provide regular feedback to agents in order to keep these employees apprised of the situation. This means chiding them when things are not up to standard and praising them when they go above and beyond the call of duty.
Finally, when things go wrong, as they inevitably sometimes do, it is the CEM’s role to follow up with the customer, as the act of having a senior person reach out will demonstrate to the client that even though there may have been a problem, the company clearly values their business and is actively seeking ways to improve the situation in the future.
So what are some of the biggest challenges facing the CEM as they go about implementing their job description and improving the customer experience?
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the CEM is the need to create a customer-first culture. Too often, much of what is done – in any business unit, not just the contact center - is biased toward doing things the way that is best for the company, rather than what is best for the customer. Furthermore, if the experience is to be a good one throughout the customer’s journey, cross-departmental support will be required from areas such as marketing, IT, sales and finance.
The CEM, therefore, needs to focus on instructing a sustained customer-centric mindset across the enterprise. This means getting everyone on board with a customer-centric strategy, starting with the C-Suite.
The second major challenge lies in getting the right team in place. Implementing a diverse program like customer experience will require an experienced team to manage it. This goes beyond merely having skilled, empathetic agents in place and entails building a team that encompasses implementation experts, research analysts and BI specialists.
In addition, there needs to be scalability built into any team created, as a large team may be required at the start of such a program, but as it evolves, fewer staff may be needed and the CEM will have to justify the ROI in the team they have put in place.
Speaking of ROI, it is not enough to simply demonstrate that customer satisfaction has increased as a justification for any money spent. Today, it is imperative for the CEM to be able to show exactly how customer experience efforts are impacting on key business KPIs, like customer retention.
Improved customer retention and increased sales are often perceived as the primary benefits related to investing in customer experience and improvements in these need to be demonstrated if the CEM hopes to continue receiving investment in their customer experience program.
Communication is also a challenge that needs to be overcome. Having a strong and experienced, customer experience team, is only valuable to the organization if these employees are provided with a purpose, rather than simply being given tasks to complete. In other words, the CEM needs to communicate to staff what they are working towards, rather than just telling them what they are working on. It is equally critical to communicate to them that they can use their own initiative in dealing with customer issues – employees who are there only to escalate requests are not serving the bigger customer experience picture.
Finally, a major challenge that CEMs need to overcome is the breaking down of, or at the very least communicating across, the various company silos. Customer-centricity tends to be hampered the most when there is a lack of cooperation created by a siloed approach. Too often, individual departments or business units have their own approach to how they treat customers, and if each one is even slightly different, it can ruin the customer journey. It is the CEM’s job to foster better collaboration across business units, in order to improve the total customer experience.
It is clear that the customer experience manager is not just someone running another support operation for the enterprise – instead, CEM is a vital role in a critical business department, and is a role that is key in shaping a company’s brand image and is vital to improving customer loyalty.
Every interaction with your organization’s customers is a chance for your people to excite them and make them more loyal to your business. Crafting a thoroughly enjoyable customer journey will not only create clients who stick with you in the long-term, but should also lead to these customers recommending your company to more people – and the CEM is the key to ensuring that this happens.
[About the author] Dylon Mills is the Director of Marketing Content Strategy & Development at Jacada. As such, Dylon’s main responsibilities are to strategize, create and deliver content for Jacada’s product portfolio that align with the global Go-To-Market strategy, corporate positioning, and marketing campaigns. Dylon’s prior work experience includes Product Management at one of the top Fortune 500 Technology companies, Symantec Corporation. Outside of work, Dylon enjoys problem-solving and any project that includes building/tinkering with tools. Dylon holds a BS Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia.