In India's emerging economy, the traditional pyramid‑shaped social structure is shifting to one that is more diamond‑shaped, honed by the burgeoning middle‑class, the influx of global manufacturers to the attractive Indian market, the rise of millennials and their expectations and the advent of social media, which introduces entirely new levels of information access and avenues of expression. For the manufacturing industry, this new social structure unequivocally points in one direction: to the growing importance of customer experience management (CEM).
CEM is the strategic process of managing various customer touchpoints by providing what the customer wants when, where and how they want it. It should come as no surprise, then, that there is a high correlation between customer experience and revenues. 1 An emotionally connected customer is more likely to stick with the company for a longer time, increasing customer lifetime value and revenues. By extension, a satisfied and connected customer is more likely to recommend the company to others. 2 In the interest of profitability and long‑term sustainability, manufacturing companies in India should invest resources and energy into developing and implementing a comprehensive CEM program.
Based on our experience with various customers across industries, we have identified five main focus areas for developing a comprehensive CEM strategy (Figure 1):
Focus Area 1: Process Management
A well‑defined process forms the backbone of a successful company. Manufacturers need to allocate a sufficient budget and appoint a CEM manager with authority over all departments involved in continuously planning and monitoring CEM activities across the company. These activities should be supported by an easily navigable and flexible buying cycle process that can keep even the most demanding customer satisfied. A well‑defined process also ensures a consistent experience for customers, regardless of channel. With mobile, social media and online shopping gaining importance, it is imperative that the process allows personalization of experiences, such as choice of channels, time of interaction and mode of payment.
Focus Area 2: Stakeholder Management
Organizational management, from designing to managing the organizational structure, is an important factor in all major business decisions and will go a long way toward enabling a company‑wide CEM initiative.
Employee management involves recognizing the skills required for customer‑facing employees, identifying and imparting the necessary training and instilling employees with decision‑making power when interacting with customers to adjust the experience to specific needs, wants and desires.
Ecosystem partner management: Organizations should gauge the CEM adoption level of potential partners before sealing the deal, as this can set the stage for a best practices exchange that results in a consistent experience at all customer touchpoints, across every partner.
Focus Area 3: Information Management
To deliver an exceptional customer experience, manufacturers need to develop a product data repository containing specifications, performance details and usage instructions. Details of competitors' products with a comparative analysis should also be captured. In addition to providing insights into customer sentiment, behavior and spending levels, the repository should act as the voice of the customer, enabling the manufacturer to continuously improve and fine‑tune the entire CEM process.
Focus Area 4: Communications Management
CEM success often hinges on the manufacturer's ability to manage and control its communication with employees, partners and customers. While traditional channels such as TV, newspaper and helplines remain important, modern channels — including social media, mobile, blogs and review sites — need to be actively managed to ensure all touchpoints provide a consistent customer experience. By deftly monitoring and making meaning from customer Code Halos — the digital data that surrounds people, processes, organizations and devices — manufacturers can make their communication more relevant to the customer. With the use of modern analytics tools to monitor site traffic, social media content analysis and behavioral Web analytics, companies can better understand their customers and follow through by delivering what they want even before they ask for it.
Focus Area 5: Performance Management
Employee metrics such as performance measurement and recognition for exceptional performance in the customer experience domain should be used as a source of motivation for employees. Companies should track customer metrics through customer satisfaction surveys, customer loyalty programs and sentiment analysis. CEM process metrics — which measure the impact of CEM programs on revenues, consistency of experience across channels and success in predicting future trends — should be used to obtain a true picture of the performance of CEM programs across the company.
In our experience with assisting companies in moving up the CEM maturity ladder, we find that organizations can improve their customer satisfaction scores by rewiring their internal operations and integrating robust analytics tools. With a deeper understanding of key CEM drivers in Indian manufacturing and adoption of CEM best practices elaborated in our whitepaper "Customer Experience Management: The New Playbook for Indian Manufacturing Organizations" [PDF], manufacturers can impact the customer experience, which will reflect positively on customer satisfaction and revenues. For more, visit Cognizant's Manufacturing Business Consulting Practice.
1 Maxie Schmidt‑Subramanian, "The Business Impact of Customer Experience in 2014, " Forrester Research, Inc., March 27, 2014, http://resources.moxiesoft.com/rs/moxiesoft/images/Business_Impact_Of_CX_2014.pdf.