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Buyer's guide: Top customer experience software


The Team at CallMiner

October 30, 2023

CX customer experience software buyer guide 2023
CX customer experience software buyer guide 2023

Customers are the bedrock of any successful business, so providing an excellent customer experience (CX) is crucial. Customer experience software can make the process of monitoring and managing customers’ needs more efficient and accurate. Yet, with hundreds of options to choose from in today’s market, it can be challenging to distinguish what sets different customer experience software apart from one another.

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While basic CX software might work for small businesses, many companies need robust features that integrate with and improve their current customer experience management processes, such as customer experience analytics. In this buyer’s guide, we’ve rounded up some of the most important elements to consider when searching for the best customer experience software to help you continue bringing what your customers prioritize to the table, including:

  • What to look for in the best customer experience software in 2023
  • Things to keep in mind when evaluating customer experience software in 2023
  • Frequently asked questions

What to look for in the best customer experience software in 2023

1. Find a platform that supports omnichannel customer service. “As digital technology continues to evolve, customers can engage with your brand across more channels than ever. They expect a seamless experience on every channel – and when they hop from one channel to the next. In this landscape, offering an omnichannel customer experience is a must for any company that wants to remain competitive.

“For customers, superior omnichannel customer service means they only need to authenticate once, even though their conversation may cross multiple channels. It means they do not need to repeat information from one agent to the next. It means a consistent experience across all channels and one that is personalized for their preferences, needs, and history with your brand.” - Deliver an omnichannel customer experience, CallMiner; Twitter: @CallMiner

2. Don’t overlook the benefits of NPS (Net Promoter Score). “Considered the touchstone for customer experience metrics, NPS measures a customer’s loyalty to a company.

“NPS can assess practically everything — customer journeys, web pages, products, stores, and even employees. Implementing NPS lets a company see where they stand regarding their products, services, agents, and social media presence. It also helps identify dissatisfied customers and run comparative analyses against competitors and industry standards.” - Best Customer Experience Software, SelectHub; Twitter: @selecthub

3. Make sure your software supports the reporting you need. “Organizations that want to utilize data in different departments and for different purposes will want to carefully consider a prospective platform's reporting capabilities and analytics features, particularly whether departments or admins can set up dashboards or not. Analytics can include web behavioral and tracking analytics, voice of the customer (VOC) analytics and business analytics.

Buyers should also consider what kind of analytics they will run and what data they will use. Some vendors are stronger than others in what they offer, how they handle different types of analytics, and whether they have prebuilt industry models as well as support for more languages.” - 7 features of CX management tools to consider, TechTarget; Twitter: @TTBusinessTech

4. CX software should give customers plenty of room for feedback. “Customers are your most vocal critics, your strongest supporters, and the key to ongoing success. By asking them for feedback, you’ll understand where you can improve, what new products or features they’d like you to build, and even what other competitors they may be considering.

“If you’re constantly monitoring customer sentiment, you’ll also know when customers are unsatisfied before their frustration builds to the point of churn, so you can try to improve their experience and keep their business.

“On the other hand, you can also figure out who your happiest customers are and ask them to advocate on your behalf to others via testimonials, reviews, and references.” - 6 Customer Experience (CX) Integrations to Grow Your Business, G2; Twitter: @g2dotcom

5. Redaction technology is an absolute must. “Many regulatory standards require organizations to capture recordings. In addition, both companies and consumers benefit greatly from capturing the voice of the customer. This allows them to analyze information and adjust how they respond and work with customers to deliver a more efficient and positive customer experience.

“However, there is risk associated with the capturing of sensitive customer data. Once you capture information, it becomes your responsibility. You are immediately in charge of security, ensuring compliance and are on the hook for all the associated costs and risks that come with it.

“There are many benefits to implementing redaction technology in your operations. Here are a few bound to get the attention of your compliance, risk and security teams.

  • Identify and remove sensitive numeric data with sophisticated redaction algorithms without customer or agent impact
  • Reduce legal exposure and compliance risk through automated redaction for both post-contact and real-time interactions
  • Adapt to evolving call volumes and metadata with scalable, cloud-based platform”

- Under Redaction! Why Companies Can’t Seem To Get It Right When It Comes To Recorded Data, CallMiner; Twitter: @CallMiner

6. Customer data should follow the customer journey. “Any customer experience management (CXM) software suite worth its salt will help you understand customer journeys like never before by bringing together every facet of all customer experiences into one centralized hub. That includes:

  • Customer lifecycle and customer segmentation: Is the customer at the start of their buying journey? Or are they a longtime, loyal customer of yours already? Customer experience management is all about building up profiles that differ depending on where in the buying journey customers are. The resulting segmentation and customer data will help you deliver personalized experiences and to nurture each stage of the customer journey.
  • Next-generation listening and understanding: It’s essential to be able to analyze your customer’s feedback at scale and understand what they are saying to you. Modern CXM software applies sophisticated AI, machine learning, and natural language processing to alert you to what’s happening and recommend the actions to take next.
  • Customer engagement and customer touchpoints: You need to be able to see how and where customers are talking about (and with) you. That means collecting engagement data with an omnichannel approach. In today’s business environment, a review on a third-party website, an off-hand tweet, an email, and a customer support call should all be given the same weight in terms of importance.” - Your guide to customer experience management software, Qualtrics; Twitter: @Qualtrics

7. CX software should allow you to train certain algorithms. “When a call center uses sentiment analysis software to detect customer emotion as they speak with a representative, machine learning processes continuously monitor the conversation to learn more about what constitutes a positive or negative emotion.

“People can train these algorithms to become better at doing what they do. Sentiment analysis platforms work behind the scenes during customer conversations, but humans can use tagging, alerts, and other tools to make the platform drill down elements of conversations the company wants to highlight. Similarly, data analysts can update and tweak machine learning systems for continued improvements.” - Sentiment analysis & machine learning: 2023 guide, CallMiner; Twitter: @CallMiner

8. Buy software that lets you partake in social listening. “79% of consumers expect a response within the first 24 hours after reaching out to a brand on social media, and 40% expect brands to respond within an hour.

“Social listening can be an effective part of a brand’s customer service efforts and can play a valuable role in determining if its customer’s needs are being fulfilled, which also helps to improve the customer experience.

“Focusing on social listening allows brands to know what their customers are talking about on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks. They also know how they feel about the brand, help them to discover the pain points in the customer journey, and obtain actionable insights that will help them to improve the customer experience.” - 12 Effective Customer Experience Best Practices & Tips for 2023, REVE Chat; Twitter: @REVEchat

9. CX software should dig into user personas for customizable experiences. “Not only can personalized customer experiences increase income and loyalty, but they’re also becoming more expected by consumers. According to Salesforce research, 66% of consumers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, and 52% expect all offers to be personalized.

“This goes beyond addressing them by their name. Different user personas are interested in different parts of your app. Value and success will look different for them. Segment them based on their jobs to be done and personalize the product experience by offering small tips, hints, and help based on what’s relevant to the user.

“Another way to tailor product experience: build segments based on product usage and in-app behavior. This way, you’ll make sure you prompt users to discover advanced features only after they’ve adopted the core ones that will deliver assured value.” - Digitization of Customer Experience: 15 Best Practices For Managing Digital CX, Userpilot; Twitter: @teamuserpilot

10. Look for software that takes a mobile-first CX approach. “Since so many customers are seeking support on mobile, what can companies do to reach them and provide a high-quality CX? Several of the businesses we spoke to suggest that new businesses, or those creating new websites, should adopt a ‘mobile first’ strategy.

“A mobile-first strategy means that no matter what a customer might need to do—learn about a new product, receive customer support, process a return or chat with an employee—it can be done on a mobile device and the CX will be equally positive. This strategy can distinguish companies from those for which mobile support is an afterthought.

“Brian Dear, founder and CEO of telehealth platform iCouch, explains how his company has embraced a mobile-first approach for both customers and employees: ‘We assume all users are mobile in terms of designing our support articles as well as our support portal. In terms of keeping up with support requests, we leverage mobile apps that alert us instantly to incoming support requests, and thus, allow us to help any customer anywhere we happen to be.’” - Craig Borowski, Improve the Customer Experience Through Better Mobile Support, Software Advice; Twitter: @softwareadvice

11. Check that it monitors your Customer Effort Score (CES). “How much effort does it take a customer to reach a person, or use your product effectively? This is the mentality behind CES. The more effort a customer has to expend to get access to the products, services, or communications they need, the worse their experience is going to be.” - Jayson DeMers, Customer Experience: The Ultimate Guide + 10 Best Tools, Email Analytics

Things to keep in mind when evaluating customer experience software in 2023

1. Consider CX software with customizable and comprehensive dashboards. “According to Forrester, a CX dashboard should include three types of measurements: (1) Perception metrics, (2) Descriptive metrics, and (3) Outcome metrics. Perception metrics reveal what the customer’s experience was and how they felt about it. Metrics such as NPS, CES, and CSAT would be included here. Descriptive metrics represent observable events that happened. This would consist of metrics such as first call resolution, average handle time, and clicks it took to complete a transaction. Outcome metrics are metrics that demonstrate what action(s) a customer took as a result of their perceptions. This might include items like renewing a contract, consuming a piece of content, viewing a demo, or making an additional purchase.

“Use the metrics that are most important to help you gauge and improve performance. Thus, be careful when comparing metrics and dashboards with others. Focus on those metrics that will help you improve.” - How to Build a CX Dashboard That Drives Results, M4 Communications, Inc.; Twitter: @M4_Comm

2. Blockchain could help companies identify trends in customer behaviors. “Blockchain can be leveraged to develop a decentralized system that can securely encrypt consumers’ behavioral and demographic data. This data would be portable and help identify trends in customer behavior. Furthermore, blockchain would give customers the power to decide who has access to their information.” - Customer Experience Software Buyers Guide, Capterra; Twitter: @capterra

3. Different company sizes have different customer experience software needs. “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.” - Find the best Customer Experience Software, Software Advice; Twitter: @softwareadvice

4. CX software shouldn’t have a massive learning curve. “The tool should allow for a quick setup process, with straightforward instructions and ideally, templates to get started faster.” - Hannah Clark, Your Guide to the 26 Best CX Software on the Market, The CX Lead; Twitter: @CxLead

5. CX software should play nicely with your loyalty program management tool. “If you offer a good CX, chances are your customers will be loyal to you or your brand. But that doesn’t happen without real effort. ‘Consumers are changing, and consumer trends are driving this’” says former McKinsey partner Jess Huang on the new generation of customer loyalty programs. ‘With the move to digital over the last ten years, consumers are spending more and more time on their phones and various digital channels. This makes it much easier to access the consumer, but there is also a lot more noise. Brands are trying to figure out the right way to break through that noise and develop a relationship with the consumer.’

“Loyalty programs are vital to doing so, but two-thirds of them fail to deliver. Focusing on eight elements can help your loyalty programs perform better:

  • Don’t be afraid to offer customers incentives to redeem their loyalty points.
  • Consider the customer segments where there’s “breakage” (people whose points expire), and think about potential opportunities for improvement.
  • Enlist strategic partners to enhance offers and rewards.
  • Offer points-plus-cash options.
  • Measure success based on engagement, not just accruals.
  • Segment customers into groups you can handle.
  • Personalize test-and-learn across customer segments.
  • Create a standard P&L to accurately measure the incremental impact of loyalty programs.”

- What is CX?, McKinsey & Company; Twitter: @McKinsey

6. Buy software from companies with a low risk of technical debt. “Frequently, buyers often focus on factors like features, user experience, and cost-effectiveness. However, one critical aspect that goes relatively unnoticed but should be of paramount importance is technical debt. Technical debt in our current climate is often described as when a software development team prioritizes speedy delivery over perfect code. That is a constant trade-off internally, but actually there is a more prolific type of technical debt that software buyers should be aware of. This occurs when development teams are running on a reduced workforce and are having to make decisions about completing committed upgrades, new versions, patches, and built in integration connectors in order to satisfy their current roadmap commitments and balancing this with their large customer demands as they inevitably surface.

“While this isn’t a new problem, it is certainly highly impactful this year. In 2023 the software industry has severely scaled down operations right across the business. This includes engineers and developers. Resources have never been so tight, and with every business now jumping on the LLM AI conversational analytics train, which for many was unplanned 12 months ago, it is critical that software buyers ensure that they will get the solution that is promised.

“While technical debt may seem like a concern primarily for software developers, software buyers should also consider it a critical factor in their decision-making process. Understanding the risks associated with technical debt allows buyers to make informed choices, mitigate potential long-term expenses, and safeguard their investments. By prioritizing software products with a low technical debt burden, buyers can ensure higher quality, increased flexibility, reduced costs, and faster time-to-market, enabling them to leverage software as a strategic asset for their organizations.” - Rachel Lane, The hidden risk: Why technical debt should concern CX software buyers, MyCustomer; Twitter: @MyCustomer

7. Ensure that it fits seamlessly with your other tools. “Customer feedback isn’t the only data your organization has – you probably also have access to website analytics, CRM systems like Salesforce, and even HR and finance data. Most of these platforms have APIs which allow you to send the data to other systems.

“Being able to integrate them into your CX platform can be a huge benefit, as you get better visibility of the customer experience and its impact on your business. Take website analytics for example – you may be seeing an increase in people abandoning their cart, but it’s hard to identify why when you’re looking only at the analytics data. But combine it with customer feedback and you can drill down to see what customers are saying, so you can quickly and easily see the impact.

“Integrating your data is a great way to get a ‘one customer’ view – you can tie feedback to contact records and start to tie your CX metrics into operational metrics like win-rate and revenue to really understand the impact of your customer experience on the bottom line.” - Your guide to customer experience management software, Qualtrics; Twitter: @Qualtrics

8. Pricing may not be the top priority, but it matters. “Pricing considerations should include not only the initial purchase or subscription costs of customer experience management software but also any ongoing costs such as maintenance, upgrades, and support. It's important to evaluate pricing in relation to the features and capabilities of the software, as well as the expected return on investment from using the software.” - Hannah Clark, 22 Best Customer Experience Management Software In 2023, The CX Lead; Twitter: @CxLead

9. Your software should help you understand your customers’ problems. “Customer Experience CX software help customers connect and understand the product, increasing the company’s sales and supporting a better customer experience.

“Most customers don’t trust product advertising and, most of the time, get confused in purchasing the product; here comes the role of Customer Experience management software which helps enterprises make more sales and profit by understanding users’ problems. It helps in increasing the post-purchase experience.” - Jebran Shafiq, 18 Best Customer Experience (CX) Platform Software of 2023, JBR; Twitter: @TECH_JBR

10. Don’t confuse CRM with automated CX software. “Customer experience automation (CXA) enables businesses to automate the entire customer journey, while customer relationship management (CRM) refers to the process of organizing and managing client relationships, plus analyzing data obtained by interactions. However, both CXA and CRM tools work in tandem to improve the customer experience and help you develop a better relationship with your audience.

“CRM software provides users with a platform that aggregates and evaluates the information collected automatically or manually. This ensures you and your team can access client data via a centralized dashboard, so everyone is on the same page and can personalize interactions with customers.

“With CX automation, you can leverage the information in your CRM to automate certain exchanges throughout the customer journey.” - What Is Customer Experience Automation?, Intuit Mailchimp; Twitter: @Mailchimp

11. The best CX tools promote collaboration. “Good CXM tools encourage teamwork and collaboration. Teams can use shared calendars for sharing, discussing and tracking their assignments. Likewise, users can take advantage of an internal communication tool that also makes monitoring and sharing tasks and projects.

“Customer experience software allows integrations with various business systems. Through these integrations, productivity and coordination become better. This type of software can also easily integrate with CRM software.” - Customer Experience Software, Crozdesk; Twitter: @crozdesk

12. Consider whether CX software can grow with you. “Choose a solution that can scale alongside your business growth and accommodate future expansion. Look for flexibility in terms of customizable features and modules.” - How to Find and Select the Best CX Software and Technology, Viewpoint Analysis; Twitter: @Viewpoint_tweet

13. Predictive technology can improve CX performance. “Predictive CX platforms allow companies to better measure and manage their CX performance; they also inform and improve strategic decision making. These systems make it possible for CX leaders to create an accurate and quantified view of the factors that are propelling customer experience and business performance, and they become the foundation to link CX to value and to build clear business cases for CX improvement.

“They also create a holistic view of the satisfaction and value potential of every customer that can be acted upon in near real time. Leaders who have built such systems are creating substantial value through a wide array of applications across performance management, strategic planning, and real-time customer engagement.” - Rachel Diebner, Mike Thompson, David Malfara, Kevin Neher, and Maxence Vancauwenberghe, Prediction: The future of CX, McKinsey & Company; Twitter: @McKinsey

14. CX should be a shared responsibility. “Customer experience technologies were among the top IT investments over the past year, according to Foundry’s 2022 State of the CIO Study. But CIOs have to own more of the CX program than technology delivery; they must share ownership for it, along with the marketing, operations, sales, and revenue officers, as well as the chief customer or chief experience officers if those roles exist within the company.

“Research has found that companies that deliver great customer experiences make CX a shared responsibility, says Sudhir Rajagopal, research director for Future of Customer Experience at research firm IDC.

“It’s not about any one person or one function,’ he says. ‘It’s one thing to say it, but what it means is that each one of those functions, every one of those leaders within their functions, thinks about how they’re delivering on their operational pieces against the same customer objectives.’” - Mary K. Pratt, Customer experience: 10 tips for a successful CX strategy, CIO; Twitter: @CIOonline

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between CRM and CX?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is the process of monitoring and improving the interactions customers have with a business. Meanwhile, customer experience (CX) is the journey a customer takes over their lifetime with a brand, from the first ad that caused them to visit the website to a product review of their last purchase.

How is CX software different from CRM software?

Although CX and CRM software are similar, CX software focuses more on improving the overall experience of a customer rather than just their interactions with a brand. Often, CRM tools are built directly into CX software.

What is the difference between CX and UX?

User experience (UX) refers to the customer’s usability of websites, mobile apps, and other tools a business provides customers, while CX relates to the customer’s actual experiences with the brand, like whether they loved a product they tried or how they feel about the company’s customer service.

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