Customer Experience Design

Of all the acronyms and buzzwords swirling around the customer-centric company, Customer Experience Management (CXM) is perhaps the most interesting because it seeks to continually push the envelope of the customer's relationship with the company, nearly independent of technology.

Defining Customer Experience Management (CXM), however, is not as easy as it may seem, especially when you try to distinguish it from Customer Relationship Management (CRM). They appear quite similar — improving the customer's experience with the company to establish long-term loyalty — however, there are key differences and understanding those distinctions can help you move your company to the next level of customer engagement.

While CRM can be described as the use and integration of both strategy and technology to optimize customer facing business processes, such as marketing, sales and customer support, CXM takes a longer and more customer oriented view.

CXM is more about the customer's perception of the company based on their experience. When a customer perceives positive experiences, he or she begins to feel aligned or vested with the company and then acts on behalf of the company, championing its products and services.

Many companies have already taken steps to incorporate perception into their customer strategy. Bruce Temkin, an analyst at Forrester, has done research that shows approximately two-thirds of companies are now investing in some form of CXM that incorporates the perception that customers have based on their interactions with an organization.

The best customer experiences are consistently built on customer perception, emotion and empathy.

Harnessing Customer Emotion

CXM requires putting yourself in the customer's shoes to understand their buying experience, product usage experience, support experience or other interaction with your company. For example, in the world of call centers and routed phone calls it is not unheard of for the company to decide it has delivered a great experience based on its analytics while the customer says his experience was terrible.

These differing points of view must be reconciled or companies risk declined patronage, customer churn, decreased market share and lost profits. To align customer and company perception, the company must implement a method to capture and measure customer feelings at each touch point and interaction experience.

Beyond Philosophy, a CRM Consulting Firm, defines CXM as follows: "CX is an interaction between an organization and a customer. It is a blend of an organization's physical performance, the senses stimulated and emotions evoked, each intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact."

Significant is the emphasis on "emotion," a word that is seldom heard in the boardroom and even less often appears on corporate reports. But it speaks directly to the customer's experience, not about it or around it.

The effort to place value on the customer's experience is beginning to spur new metrics. The highly touted Net Promoter Score measures the customer's willingness to recommend the companies services, a gold standard in customer-centric companies. A customer who advocates on your behalf is exponentially more valuable than one who simply spends money.

Contact Center Empathy

Nurturing customers who are willing to recommend the company frequently begins with customer advocates inside the company, and often times in the call center. Empowering customer service agents to empathise and act on behalf of the customer rather than blindly side with company policy can pay off handsomely.

Smith & Company, a UK-based CXM consulting firm, has created a quadrant that illustrates the evolution of the contact center from an inefficient, ineffective model toward its apex as an experiential model that rewards customer advocacy.


  • Interaction Management (IM)
  • Inbound
  • Cost focused
  • Customer Support

  • CX Management
  • Multi-directional and Channel
  • Customer Focused
  • Customer Advocacy

  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Outbound
  • Revenue Focused
  • Customer Loyalty

If you follow the chart from the lower left corner to the upper right, you will find that CXM is more than just efficient interactions or even effective relationships. In the call center CXM goes beyond customer support and customer loyalty to the higher plane of customer advocacy.

Most call centers strive to become merely efficient, meaning that they can handle a large call volume at the lowest cost per call. The result is efficient operations that may fall well short of achieving loyal customers. The next move most companies make is toward effectiveness, which is usually done by implementing a CRM system that integrates multiple channels and analyzes data to determine the most profitable customers, who become the objects of higher levels of service. These interactions take a little more time but represent greater value to the company.

Developing Customer Advocates

The final step blows it out of the water by turning customer agents into customer advocates. The advocate steps out of his or her biased role as company representative and leads with customer empathy. This may result in multiple, prolonged interactions over as many channels as necessary to get the customer exactly what he or she wants and deserves.

The number and length of interactions is no longer the design criteria for success. Customer service agents are not timed and penalized for interactions that take too long. The point is to provide an experience to the customer that the customer will in turn share with others. The customer becomes your advocate and shares their experience in their social sphere - which achieves a force multiplier impact.