Think about the last typewriter you bought.
You probably carefully compared your options to find the right balance of features, price, and brand – and then you just went out and bought whatever Sears had on sale.
Not only has what you’re shopping for completely changed since the advent of the personal computer, but how you shopping has changed as well. Today, price, features, and brand are all less important to customers making a buying decision than their overall experience with your brand. That’s because price, features, and brand trust have all more or less flattened. Today, what sets brands apart from each other isn’t any one thing, or three things, but everything.
Unfortunately, it’s much easier to measure and improve your features, price, and brand perception than it is to measure and improve customer experience. That’s because customer experienced is determined by nearly every facet of your business, including:
- Customer service
- User interface design
- User testing
- Brand perception
Which is why there are so many ways for software to help you improve your customer experience.
Things you may want your customer experience software to be able to do
- Automate and improve user onboarding
- Perform web analytics
- Run A/B tests
- Design and improve UI
- Gauge sentiment through social listening
- Solicit customer feedback via surveys
- Help you make data-driven operational changes
So that’s a lot. Each function has its own category of software and/or can be a feature of several categories of software.
Today, I want to focus on customer experience software that primarily automates and improves your customer feedback collection processes, helping you turn that feedback into data that you can use to improve the experience people have with your organization.
Some call this kind of software “customer experience management software (CEM).” Clarabridge defines CEM as software that “pulls together and analyzes customer feedback data to provide a single, complete view of the customer.”
A good CEM will automate the collection of applicable, understandable, actionable, and accurate customer feedback.
Questions to ask when shopping for customer experience management software:
1. How closely and easily does it integrate?
If a live chat between a customer and service rep goes horribly awry in a forest, do you still lose that customer for life and potentially all their friends and social media followers too? Uh, yeah probs.
You need to integrate customer feedback with sales, marketing, and service data in order to make sure the feedback is actionable and accurate. If you can’t easily track a customer along their journey from marketing to sales to support to social media commentary and referrals, you’re not accurately measuring customer experience, and you’re not accurately tying it to the ultimate goals of customer retention and advocacy.
If you’re a Zendesk user, consider integrating Intercom.io. Capterra reviewers also like Intercom.io, saying it’s robust while still being easy-to-use, if a little on the pricey side. (Also check out my list of five other free Zendesk integrations).
2. Is standalone customer experience management software the right choice?
Speaking of integrations, for that reason alone you may want to use your CRM or help desk software’s built-in tools for customer feedback collection and analysis. Not all softwares have them, but using what you’re already paying for saves you that money, plus having to learn how to use and maintain another software.
Help Scout and LiveAgent both offer customizable feedback buttons you can put anywhere on your website that pop up forms and collect feedback from your customers. TeamSupport also boasts built-in customer feedback collection tools. Desk.com and Freshdesk both track your customer conversations across multiple channels and help you turn customer feedback into a prioritized to-do list.
3. Which format does it use to collect customer feedback?
Does it use one of the three industry-standard formats, let you choose between them, or use a non-standard format? Learn more about your options by reading What Are CES, NPS, and CSAT? Understanding When to Use Which. The benefit of using a standard format is that it’s useful to compare your score to industry averages.
But any score with enough data will give you this benefit. Martha Brooke is Chief CX Analyst & Founder of Interaction Metrics, a customer survey, service evaluation, and customer experience planning firm. Her firm uses a metric it calls the Quality of Customer Interaction (QCI) Score, which “accounts for multiple elements of the customer experience, weighted by what matters most to each customer and their situation.” QCI is “the one number that Interaction Metrics uses to aggregate the many elements of customer experience,” Brooke said.
Five9 seems like full-featured, high-quality customer experience management software that also offers call center management. It offers video chat. For a taste of what it’s like to learn and use Five9, this agent training video is pretty useful.
Five9 has a ton of great integrations, including Salesforce, Oracle, Zendesk, and Microsoft Dynamics. It can also do custom integrations.
Out of 170 or so reviews, customers gave Five9 four out of five stars on average. People love the features, the lack of downtime, and the value for the price. A few reviewers complained about lag, though they described it as occasional, and UI, especially around the robust reporting capability. As with most software, more capability and options means it’s more complicated and less intuitive to get it to do what you need.
Technically online reputation management software, Reputology is also useful for customer experience management. It monitors every channel for customer feedback, aggregates and stores it, and emails it to you automatically in an easy-to-understand daily digest.
One thing that gives me confidence in Reputology is its case studies. For example, when real estate development company Caruso Affiliated used Reputology to collect user feedback they found that shoppers were having a hard time finding parking at one of its properties. To ensure parking didn’t stop customers from doing their holiday shopping at The Grove, Caruso partnered with Uber to offers shoppers a code for a free ride if they spent over a certain amount.
Hootsuite is the only software Reputology integrates with out of the box. However, it’s the only software on this list with every feature on our CEM software features checklist.
Capterra reviewers love Reputology, giving it five out of five stars over almost 30 reviews. Besides review and social monitoring, they love the clean dashboard and easy-to-understand reporting. There were compliments on the easy and clean UI. The only complaint was that you can’t respond to users from inside Reputology. However, I’d imagine that integrating with Hootsuite would solve that problem. And, unlike Five9, many users raved about Reputology’s customer support.
AskNicely is a dead-simple, easy-to-use platform for measuring average NPS scores. After an interaction, AskNicely sends your customer or user a one-question email. It also offers a button you can add to your website to track NPS.
Integrates with Salesforce, Intercom.io, MailChimp, and Slack.
AskNicely also got an average five out of five star score from Capterra reviewers. Users love how simple it is to use, calling migration and onboarding “a breeze.” When’s the last time you heard those things described that way? One user was thrilled when the customer service team reached out to offer suggestions on how to change the settings for maximum success, “Go figure! Real world personalized service in this day and age?” A few users described it as reliable.
If you’re a Salesforce user, I’d avoid Reputology just because it doesn’t offer enough that the others don’t to make up for that deficit. Between Five9 and AskNicely, I’d go with Five9 if you get a lot of phone calls and AskNicely if you don’t. If you get a lot of phone calls and you’re not a Salesforce user, I’d still probably go with Five9.
For everyone else, it just depends on what other software you’re using and what you value most.
To learn more about customer experience check out this great Software Advice post about how to improve your customer experience. There’s also a Customer Experience Management Certification from Medallia that you might find useful.
And to compare more CEM software options, check out this piece, this piece, and, of course, our customer experience software directory, where we have more than 150 options listed, and you can narrow your options down by feature and compare up to four options side-by-side.