Why we should integrate CX & customer success

13th Mar 2020

For years, companies and industry organizations have been enamored with the idea of establishing a 360-degree view of customers.

It has been a vague term, but also one that is generally only superficially defined. On the surface, the meaning seems clear: a complete view of the customer, from all perspectives. The difficulty has been in the details: what does this all-encompassing view really mean, and how do you get there?

CS/CX integration aids customer understanding

While there has been much talk about aggregating data about customers and even using advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to derive useful customer knowledge, the challenge of truly knowing the customer has remained elusive.

Now, as organizations consider better integration between customer experience (CX) and customer success (CS), the approach to understanding customers is becoming more realistic.

The outside-in & inside-out customer view

To a large degree, CX has represented an outside-in view of the customer. Such assessments come from what the customer communicates through various means, including social media, responses to surveys, feedback through a website, and other means. Companies with cloud-based products and services as well as ones with products that include “Internet of Things” sensors collect product usage and experience which can also be added to the CX profile. On the other hand, CS has represented an inside-out view of the customer. CS collects data gathered from inside the company, including the interactions the CS team has had with the customer as well as data from service, support, training and sales as well as from the various internal systems involved with customers.

Together, CS and CX represent a fuller, more complete view of the customer. That was a primary motivator for Strikedeck and Medallia joining together through a successful acquisition last year. Of course, both CS and CX are each evolving as disciplines and attempting to gather a more accurate and complete portrait of the customer. Both endeavor to account for not only what a customer says, but also their behaviors. Even so, CS and CX represent different vantage points. Putting them together creates a far more informed view of customers.

Granted, most organizations need to advance their practices of CS and CX. Many have only rudimentary programs, processes and people. Taking on best practices along with better defined goals and strategies and having the right tools and resources will bring more maturity and better results to each. Combining them—at least from a data and insight perspective—produces a discontinuous leap in understanding customers. Considering such integration does not require fully mature CS and CX practices. These can mature along the way.

Customer data mining

Integrating CS and CX involves far more than the technical process of data integration. First, it starts with a mindset. Both practices have to appreciate the value of each, acknowledge the gaps or shortcomings that exist and the agree upon achieving common goals. There is a tendency to believe that whichever methods are employed, those are the be-all and end-all. For instance, those whose primary CX mechanism is monitoring product usage may believe that this approach is fully sufficient to achieve customer understanding. Attaining customer understanding is a complex and never-ending process. Customers are multifaceted and have many points of interaction and impression with a product, service or company. No one single tactic will uncover true customer understanding.

Second, organizations need to consider how the data will come together. Part of this involves a proper system of record, but there are other considerations as well. For instance, decisions need to be made over what each piece of data represents, the weight that it carries, how to interpret it and what to do about it. Third, another important consideration is the proper adherence to data privacy laws, customer contracts and other compliance-related matters. This will apply to what data is collected, where it is stored, how it is transmitted and whether data masking or meta data extraction is required.

Harmonizing customer data

Putting outside-in and inside-out views together paints a powerful, holistic picture of the customer. Both are important and valuable. From this integrated view, companies will do better at retaining customers, expanding revenue and account presence and having customers serve as new business advocates.

The combination of inside and outside—or CX and CS—will become a new determinant of market leaders and major factor of business success and longevity.


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