Dale Holub

Where to Begin When Choosing Your CX Software

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As 2019 starts rolling, you’re probably looking for ways to enhance the customer experience (CX). After all, CX is the new market battlefield where user expectations and seamless execution determine the leaders and laggards. You can’t win if you don’t play.

But proceed carefully; research reported on CustomerThink found that only 23% of companies realized benefits from their CX investments. Those who succeed choose their software carefully and use each decision to build toward an overarching goal. You can join their ranks by following their example, no matter where you are in your CX journey.

We Have No Real CX Strategy . . .

Most experts advise developing a clear plan before doing anything else. It’ll keep everyone focused on measurable goals and help you determine the software and organizational changes required.

Successful blueprints will

  • Clearly describe the intended audience – your ideal customers.
  • Identify ways to collect customer feedback.
  • Lay out principles and priorities to guide employee decisions.
  • Plan initiatives that build on each other over several months or years.
  • Allocate resources to support those initiatives.

Research from Hotjar found that companies consider customer feedback the top contributor to CX success, so rely on any data you have in designing the strategy and continue to listen throughout the process. Popular intelligence sources include surveys, website analytics, online reviews, social media mentions, focus groups, usability tests, complaints and support tickets.

Also, when it comes to improving the buyer experience, you’ll need to enhance employee experiences, too. For example, to make it easier for people to resolve billing questions, accounts payable specialists need easy ways to track data and the authority take action.

We Have A CX Strategy . . . Now What?

With the first project, try to dissolve the biggest customer pain point and look for software specifically designed to help you do it. You can then build on the momentum of early success to craft a more consistent and mature CX.

For example, in many industries, long wait times remain the number one customer frustration. If people get tired of standing by, start with software like VHT Callback to release them from the queue.

If users prefer online connections, expand support for text or social media. Or if the web self-service is popular, enhance it with chat.

We’ve Made Some Progress, But What’s Next?

Most companies who’ve made inroads to a strong CX have focused on specific segments of the customer journey. Now is the time to pull it altogether into a brand experience.

At each interaction across all departments, customers should feel you know them. Look for software like customer relationship management (CRM) or data integration applications that track every contact and make it available to any customer touchpoint.

You can also add predictive analytics to give customers what they want before they ask. For example, you can offer upgrades around the time people normally look for one.

At this point in your CX development, stay focused on your vision as defined in the strategy and gauge customer reactions. The more data you have supporting your efforts, the more likely you’ll get the broad support required to expand further.

How Do We Evaluate the Different Products Out There?

For every step in the strategy, you’ll have to choose the best software from a crowded field. Your choice should support short and long-term CX goals as well as the current infrastructure.

Prioritize flexibility.

A recent survey by West Monroe Partners found that 61% of respondents identified adaptability as a strategic priority. Look for solutions that adapt quickly according to user feedback and lay the bedrock on which to build additional capabilities.

Consider your infrastructure.

Do you have to purchase extra technology like databases to use the software? Do you need to hire new skills or train people? A cloud solution may be the best fit if you don’t want to add complexity or need specialized support at first.

Consider also how the application will serve your future infrastructure. For example, are you required to use a specific kind of database? If so, how will that limit options for other database-dependent software?

Calculate the complete cost.

Implementation always costs more than the sticker price. Factor in the resources you’ll need for hiring and training employees, integration with current systems and initial setup.

Think about the organizational cost as well. Employees will have to change behaviors which takes time and management. The better an application fits into the current work process and the easier it is to learn, the faster you realize benefits.

Be wary of the shiny bits.

Fancy features make the sales process fun and cool, but before signing up for the extras, make sure they’ll be useful to you. For example, artificial intelligence that sifts through your data and identifies customer trends is sexy. But is your organization ready to turn that data into increased sales? If not, go with something simpler for the time being.

It’s a marathon to mature CX, complete with steep hills and twisty turns. But when you’re ready to make that next investment, stop, take a breath, and choose wisely. The right software will boost you to the front of the pack.

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