Find the best Customer Experience Software
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Every time your customer engages with your company in any way, they're having a customer experience. This includes every touch point and interaction across the full customer life cycle: digital encounters, product experiences, interactions with employees, and even word of mouth chatter from other customers.
Research and advisory firm Gartner defines customer experience (CX) as "the customer's perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier's employees, systems, channels, or products." (Full article available to Gartner clients.)
The question is: how much control do you have over those experiences? And—crucially—do you understand your customers' needs and preferences well enough to cater to them?
Every customer has their own mix of expectations, needs, and tolerance levels. Customers reward businesses that deliver on their preferences and will abandon those who don't. Given these high stakes, businesses are turning to CX software to better understand their customers and how to deliver the experiences they want.
In this Buyer's Guide, we'll help you understand the following:
What is customer experience software?
Customer experience software is closely related to customer relationship management (CRM) software, as well as customer feedback and customer service solutions. Where CX software differs is its focus on leveraging customer insight to create actionable improvements in the customer journey. This CX transformation can happen at the individual or organizational levels.
At the individual level, CX software distinguishes individual customers from your amorphous group of “customers," defining them instead by their personal needs and preferences. In other words, it helps you define your customers as they want to be treated: as individuals.
CX software can track individual customer behavior and preferences, flag individual customers at risk of churning, leverage predictive analytics to anticipate behavior, and suggest more personalized experiences for a customer or segment of customers.
At the organizational level, CX software can track patterns at key touch points throughout the customer journey, identifying pain points or problem areas internally. This could include, for example, a comparison of customer satisfaction scores between service channels or departments. By identifying weak areas within the organization, CX professionals can work toward company procedure changes and improve the customer experience externally.
Common features of customer experience software
Customer experience software typically offers some or all of the following functionality:
Uses artificial intelligence, predictive modeling, or machine learning capabilities to provide deeper insights and/or suggested actions for how to improve the customer experience.
Allows users to design, schedule, and conduct surveys, polls, and questionnaires, as well as to collect and analyze survey data.
Collects and presents data in order to analyze and report key findings on CX performance indicators.
Extracts meaningful CX data from text-based interactions using natural language processing or sentiment analysis to automatically quantify and categorize text data.
A broad group of applications designed to monitor the performance of and/or communicate through various channels. This could email, live chat, social media, and more.
Tracks customer service interactions or flags customer issues and automates the issue resolution process. Creates tickets to assign agents to resolve customer issues.
Allows the user to visualize and customize customer journeys, or analyze customer satisfaction at specific touch points along the customer journey
What type of buyer are you?
Different companies have different approaches to CX management. One of the most significant factors affecting a company's strategy is its size and organizational structure.
Enterprise businesses: Large institutions and multinational corporations are ideal candidates for the most robust and full-featured CX platforms, due in part to the complexity of their internal organizations and the scale of their customer bases. Full CX suites can monitor customer journey changes across the organization and facilitate personalized experiences for many customers simultaneously, but are fairly pricey compared to narrower software options.
Midsize corporations: Midsize businesses can usually get by with less comprehensive CX management tools, so long as they can clearly identify all business units that impact the customer experience. Many midsize companies are finding that a certain degree of cross-department cooperation is needed to support an improved CX. Management tools that monitor interactions by sales, marketing and service departments can quickly identify internal inefficiencies that lead to a poor CX.
Small businesses: Small businesses rarely need the comprehensive CX management suites used by enterprises. Instead, they often opt for channel-specific or function-specific applications. They might, for example, choose a text analytics tool to monitor their live chat and email interactions. Alternatively, they might choose a single survey tool to gather feedback from their customers on the phone, in follow-up emails or when browsing a self-service page online.
Benefits of customer experience software
While we've covered some benefits of CX software in the sections above, here are some of the most notable ones:
Better understand customers' journeys: CX software can collect and organize customer feedback at specific points throughout the customer journey, providing insight into moments that are going well and moments that need improvement.
Close the loop on customer issues: Some CX solutions offer "closed-loop" case management functionality. This means that when customers provide negative survey feedback or raise an issue, the software automates the issue resolution process, usually by creating a support ticket so staff can act quickly.
Break down silos by consolidating customer data: Most CX software is built with integrations in mind so that departments across an organization can get a deep, unified look into the customer experience. This could include operational, transactional, attitudinal, or experiential customer data.
Personalize the customer experience: Some CX solutions offer predictive analytics capabilities that facilitate individually personalized experiences, based on past customer feedback or behavior.
Explore qualitative customer feedback in-depth: Some CX software offer text analytics tools that can quickly analyze open-ended, qualitative customer comments, such as from surveys, reviews, social media, emails, or chat logs. These tools will generally code and group comments by topic, theme, or sentiment, giving you a big picture view of qualitative data.
Key considerations for purchasing customer experience software
When purchasing new software, it’s always important to take note of a few things during the buying process:
Your business’s needs: Before you decide to buy a customer experience software, you should assess your organization’s needs as well as your end goal for implementing such software. Do you want to monitor and improve the performance of your customer-facing systems? Or you want to find details on a specific area concerning customer satisfaction?
If you are looking to monitor the customer journey through your sales funnel and improve customer experiences by facilitating personalized experiences, then opt for a fully-featured CX suite with customizable surveys, customer feedback collection, and management capabilities. This will help you gain deeper insights into customers’ likes and dislikes. If you have concerns about your customers’ experience and need to dig in deeper to get more data regarding their experiences, purchase decisions, and interactions, then go for a software with narrower functionalities. This can include anomaly detection, built-in text analytics, and knowledge management.
Integration with other systems: In order to support you with information on prospective and existing customers, integration between your new software and your existing systems is important. Be sure to check with your prospective vendor to make sure that they integrate with the systems you already have in place, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, marketing software, customer service and help desk software, and product analytics software.
Market trends to understand
As CX software fragments, know what you're looking for. The CX software market overlaps heavily with related software such as CRM, customer service, customer feedback, and customer engagement—this results in a fragmented landscape. According to Gartner, as the benefits of a customer-centric approach become more well known, some vendors from related software markets are branding their products as CX solutions, which may not have full-featured CX functionality (full content available to Gartner clients).
Businesses looking for a full-featured solution will be pleased with all that a CX suite has to offer. At the same time, CX is broad, as it encompasses any and all types of customer experiences. In this way, businesses that want to focus on a particular type of customer experience or that need a specific, narrow feature set should look at CX software as well the closest related market.