Charting a Path for Managing the Customer Experience

New Picture (3)Today I am breaking my blogging drought by cheating. By cheating I mean that I attended a breakfast hosted by ICF Ironworks and Sitecore to hear Ron Rogowski of Forrester speak on Customer Experience Management. During the session I, among others, tweeted quite a bit using the hash tag #icfcxm.

Before diving in, want to say that Ron was smart, knowledgeable, and entertaining. The room was heavy with Association types and his experience in the space was minimal but most of what he said applied very nicely to the world of Associations.

Why Customer Experience Management

I know that many, including myself, will call it a craponym, but CEM/CXM is a valid concept. Knock the marketing lingo all you want, managing the customer’s experience with you and your brand is critical. As proof of this, Ron pointed to someone who had taken the top 10 companies in CXM, as per Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, and the bottom 10 companies and tracked their stock price over five years.

You know what he found?

Top 10 Customer Experience Index public companies’ stock grew at a rate of 22.5% over those five years. Those at the bottom of the rankings shrank by over 45%. Meanwhile, the market as a whole, as measured by the S&P index, was down little over 1%.

That’s a pretty strong correlation.

The Age of the Customer(?)

According to Ron, the rise of CXM has singled our arrival in the Age of the Customer. His argument is that the customer has so much information that they control things.

[Note: Ron said the Age of Manufacturing lasted until 1960, the Age of Distribution was from 1960 to 1990, and the Age of Information was from 1990 to 2010.]

Here’s the thing, it is NOT the Age of the Customer. It is still the Information Age. As much information as the customer has about a company, a company has the ability to collect even more about their customers.

New Picture (3)And the smart ones are doing just that.

The customers may be better armed, and they have been for quite some time, but companies are even better armed.

If they are taking advantage of things.

As Ron outlined, organizations need to Meet the Needs of their customers, be Easy to work with, and be Enjoyable to do business with them. Each builds upon the other. “Enjoyable” is about not making things painful for the consumer. Don’t pester customers. Be perceived as helping, not simply necessary.

In fact, checking if those three needs are met make great survey questions.

[Note: In the panel, Nate Barad said that he things the most important question is “if you could improve one thing, what would it be?” Afterwards we discussed it and I shared my thought that his question was great, but it makes the perfect final question.]

To sum it up, Customer Experience strongly correlates to loyalty and can be measured by the:

  • Willingness to consider for another purchase
  • Likelihood to recommend to a friend
  • Likelihood to switch business to a competitor

Final Thought Collection

There was a lot of talk about mobile, but I’m saving the details for another post. I will say that one important point was that the experience across devices should be unified, but distinct. People will use devices for different tasks so they should be designed appropriately.

Contextualization of the experience is important. Contextualization was defined as the tailored adaptive, sometime predictive, digital experience based on the demographics, behaviors, environment, and touchpoints. Contextualization is based on the customer Profile/Persona + History + Situation.

The Situation in the world (war/other buyers/recession/…) is part of the Big Data equation. Ron stressed the importance of not losing the little data (profile) in the process. The personal information needs to be carried from touchpoint to touchpoint.


Ron gave a few recommendations as he wrapped up the talk.

  • Improve your knowledge of your customers.
  • Expand your definition of digital. It is the combination of every digital and the set of behaviors, not just the touchpoints.
  • Take advantage of the device capabilities in non-invasive way. For example, use the GPS.
  • Focus on context of the experience, not simply on the touchpoints.
  • Define unified, not uniform, experiences.

There will hopefully be a few more posts in the near future covering some other details that deserve more focus.

Disclaimer: This was a free event but AIIM uses both Sitecore and ICF Ironworks, though there are no current engagements. Before you rush to any other judgments, any issues with the AIIM website, as of this writing, are not the fault of either of those companies.


Some of my tweets that aren’t reflected in this post:

  • Ron Rogowski says Customer Exp Mgmt (CXM) is “How customers perceive their interactions w/ your company”
  • 1700+ CEOs named customer obsession as the top leadership trait from Global CEO Study by IBM
  • Some customers still want physical touches (mail/phone). Not just moving to digital. Total experience
  • Customer experience is about pattern recognition. Easy in real life, harder in digitally w/o data
  • Need to get disciplined about knowing your customer. Empathy w/ your customer is critical – @RonRogowski
  • Want to improve #CXM in Association space? Hire target Persona from industry. Use personal outreach outside your events
  • B2B is must harder for #CXM than B2C. Nice admission. B2B changes by industry & by Dept in a Business
  • Not everyone can own the customer’s experience. All are responsible, but if 1 person doesn’t own it, nobody does
  • Personas are important. They need to be based on real people & decisions over time have to leverage them. Can’t write & ignore
  • Making wrong assumption about a persona makes things fall apart (seen it. very sad when it happens)
  • Price is part, not the entirety, of the customer experience. It impacts perception but doesn’t directly correlate
  • In customer relationships, the perception of the customer is what matters more than the reality

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