CXM Strategies: Too Much Personalization, Separating Online From Offline Customer Experiences

Barb Mosher

What does customer experience mean to you?

For me, a great customer experience is a search box on your website — one that actually works. It’s an online chat support person who can answer your simple questions without having to ask someone else. It’s an unsubscribe button that actually unsubscribes you. It’s a website that says just a little bit more about your product than the flashy PDF brochure you can download. And it’s a store clerk who doesn’t ask you for your email address when they already have it in their database.

For others, a great customer experience might be that you remembered they were on their site last week and looked at a certain product, or that you remember that they actually already bought that product and while they don’t need the sales pitch again, it might be great to see some information on how to use it, or see related products.

Then there’s the guy (or gal) that does a ton of online research before buying a product, but has no desire whatsoever to be on a social network or share his thoughts or opinions on your product or service to the millions who tweet or hang out on Facebook.

It’s Not One or the Other

In my opinion your organization can’t afford to separate CXM between online and offline. The two are really a single strategy that you need to understand and deal with as whole. What happens in the online world does have an impact — and is impacted by — what happens in the offline world.

Your customers may spend a lot of time online, but they also spend a lot of time offline, interacting with your brand in ways other than their keyboard and mouse.

Consider the guy who likes to do online research. He’s also the guy that shops in person. He’s the guy who will call your call center when he has a problem. And he’s also the guy who will tell everyone he knows how crappy your service was, how your support line knew nothing about the product he bought and how he found a similar product cheaper somewhere else.

What Customer Experience Really Means

Customer experience management is about managing the customer’s experience with your organization — the entire experience, both offline and online, and it must include an understanding of how customers indirectly interact with you.

It’s about your website, mobile and/or tablet version of your site, social networks and communities. But it’s also about great customer service though your storefront and your call center, though direct sales calls or word-of-mouth references from other customers.

But maybe even more important, it’s about really understanding how your customer wants to interact with you — not how you think they want to. It’s critical to ensure you are properly engaging with your customer at each point in the decision making cycle (and the corresponding support cycle) using the tools and approaches best suited to that customer.

I sometimes get a little concerned that vendors focus too much of their solutions on learning more about people so they can offer a more personalized, contextual experience. Not everyone wants that level of “personalization”. It can be a little unnerving for some to know that you know all their friends on Facebook, or their primary contacts on Twitter. It’s a little frustrating to be constantly offered, for example, an e-book by a favorite author when they only bought one and generally prefer to read the paper copy.

People don’t go into a clothing store and get upset that the clerk didn’t remember they were there last week buying a new dress. They are happy to look around for what they want — happy that things are simply laid out to be easy to find and look at.

All of the different views on customer experience above are right. There is no one ultimate experience, everyone is different and chooses to interact with your brand in different ways. The key is to remember to develop your customer experience strategy taking both the online and offline experience into consideration — with an understanding that most use both and that not everyone wants their online experience to be quite so personalized.

A CXM strategy is not an easy thing to develop. Tools and technologies help, but in the end if you don’t make an effort to truly understand what your customer wants, and how they want to interact with you, you run the risk of damaging your brand and your bottom line.