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The basics of customer experience management: all you need to know

August 1, 2023

Customer experience management is a strategic approach that focuses on creating exceptional product/service experiences for customers. It involves understanding and meeting customer expectations, addressing their needs, and fostering long-term loyalty. By consciously managing the customer experience, organizations can build strong relationships with their customers and differentiate themselves from competitors. In this article, you learn everything about customer experience management and how to get started.


What is customer experience?

Customer experience describes how consumers feel about a business or brand overall and how they interact with it during all stages of the customer journey, from initial contact to support following a purchase. 

Every touchpoint is included, such as communications with staff, website usability, product quality, customer support, and more. 

The goal of customer experience is to exceed expectations, foster pleasant feelings, and fulfill basic and advanced needs. 

To create excellent experiences at every stage, it calls for a thorough grasp of consumer preferences, needs, and desires as well as the alignment of corporate strategy.

Why is customer experience important?

Customer experience is crucial because it has become a key distinction in today's fiercely competitive market: where goods and services are frequently comparable, the experience customers have with the provider will tell if they turn into loyal customers, or if they turn to competition.

By luring and keeping customers, a good customer experience can give a business a huge competitive edge. 

Customer experience is essential because it promotes brand advocacy, brand loyalty, and good word-of-mouth, all of which can boost customer acquisition and revenue growth. On the other hand, a bad customer experience can turn away business and hurt a company's reputation. Businesses may stand out in the market, produce memorable experiences, and gain a competitive advantage by investing in efficient customer experience management.

What is customer experience management?

Customer experience management –also known as CX management, CXM, or CEM–  is the practice of strategically planning, implementing, and improving customer interactions and touchpoints with a business. 

a visualization of customer experience management, visualizing journeys and people being responsible for different parts of it.

In order to offer excellent experiences, it entails knowing client wants, preferences, and expectations and coordinating company strategy.

CX management includes a range of tasks like customer journey mapping, gathering and analyzing feedback from customers, identifying problem areas and opportunities for development, and putting forward efforts to improve the customer experience as a whole. It is a comprehensive strategy that involves departmental teamwork and is centered on inspiring good feelings, fostering customer loyalty, and fostering business success through customer pleasure.

Why is CX management important?

Customer experience management is highly important because it comes with manifold benefits for business success:

  • Stand out in a crowded market by setting yourself apart from competition
  • Fostering long-lasting connections and repeat business helps to increase consumer loyalty
  • Increasing customer satisfaction: Exceeding expectations of the customer
  • Encourage clients to refer your business to others to promote favorable word-of-mouth
  • increase in brand repute Improve your reputation and credibility
  • Retain customers and lower turnover to increase client retention
  • boosts the lifetime value of a consumer maximize sales to current clients
  • Customer advocacy is improved: Make consumers brand promoters
  • creates a competitive edge Keep your market advantage over competitors
  • helps a business grow: Utilize customer-centric techniques to increase sales and profitability

How to start with customer experience management?

If you want to consciously start with customer experience management, you can do so by following these few steps:

1. Build a real CX mindset

Build a customer-centric mindset and team culture involves instilling a deep understanding and empathy for the customer within the organization, where every team member considers the customer's needs and preferences as a top priority.

Reading this article was a great first step towards this goal ;)

Here are a few more resources that can accompany you on the way:

If you need to guide an entire organization to a CX mindest, we can recommend to watch our webinar about becoming a human-centered organization.

a notebook and a book on a couch

2. Develop the skills

Once you are convinced of the importance and stength of customer experience, you can start building practical CX skills and knowledge.

As a good starting point for beginners, we can recommend the CX online course that we've developed specifically for this case; it guides you through the basics of CX management and introduces you to personas, journey maps and stakeholder maps.

This also includes the knowledge of the language used in CX management; for your support, we've gathered the most important terms and concepts in a glossary.

3. Create personas

The first practical activity is researching and creating the personas that you are going to focus on in your CX initiatives.

A person is a fictional profile that represents a group of people –such as users, potential customers, or employees– as well as their mindsets, their needs and behavior patterns. Personas help to create empathy and are key to a human-centered approach.

a visualization of a customer persona

4. Map out customer experience

The next practical activity is to note down the status quo of the current customer experience by creating a customer journey map. This step involves researching customer experience, thus using different methodologies and tools to gather data that lets us measure customer experience. Deeply analyzing this data helps you to really understand the customer perspective and not fall into the trap of following own assumptions.

Afterwards, create a second version of the journey map, visualizing the future state journey that you want to reach.

a customer experience map of a customer going to embark on a flight

Now you're ready for the ultimate step:

5. Start with customer journey management

The ultimate challenge will be moving away from a project-based approach, towards a real management approach. CEM is an ongoing process.

In this article about customer journey management you learn how to build your customer experience management processes.

What tools are needed for CX management?

Along the entire process of CX management, you will encounter many tools that can be useful.

There are manifold tools that are useful at different stages of the process:

  • Research: in this stage, you will need tools that help you gather data from customers and other stakeholders, e.g. survey tools like Mailchimp, website tracking like Google Analytics, etc.
  • Ideation: in this stage, you might want to use a workshop and collaboration tool; a well-known example is Miro, however you could even go for low-fi solutions like pen-and-paper.
  • Prototyping: for analogue solutions – guess what – it might be beneficial to create a physical prototype. Sometimes your tools in this case can be something like card board and a scissor. For digital solutions, we commonly see people using tools like Figma to create mock-ups.
  • Implementation: in this stage, you will benefit from tools that help you manage the process. Ideally you have a dedicated journey management tool like Smaply, however also classic project management tools like Trello can help you do the job (obviously with a few limitations because the tools are not built for the specific requirements CX projects).

Tip: At every stage, you should also never underestimate the value of communication tools for gathering feedback and sharing progress. A common example is Slack, but any other messenger that allows to loop in relevant people quickly and have discussions.

Again, we limit this section to a short overview; for a comprehensive list, visit our detailed article about the most common CX tools.

What are challenges of customer experience management?

The field of CX management is changing every day; new technologies are being developed and new possibilities arise, resulting in new challenges that affect CX design.

Some of the commonly encountered challenges include:

  • Being able to identify CX problems and opportunities
  • Having actionable CX data
  • Consolidating experiences
  • Having employees who really care
  • Mastering internal collaboration
  • ... and many more.

This is just a short overview; We elaborate on these challenges and how to overcome them in a dedicated article about CX challenges.

What is the future of customer experience management?

As the digital landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the future of customer experience management stands on the cusp of transformation. With emerging technologies, shifting consumer behaviors, and a growing emphasis on personalization, the trajectory of CEM promises an era where seamless, anticipatory, and emotionally resonant experiences will be the driving force behind business success.

For example, we see factors like new purchasing habits (e.g., e-commerce), and new technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence) influencing the field massively.

Customer needs and wishes will always continue to change, thus we need to stay on track and understand what the new expectations look like.

Some of the most significant trends of CX management that we should watch these days are:

  • Delivering personalized experiences
  • Shaping seamless omnichannel experiences
  • Providing 24/7 customer service
  • Using data to improve service and product experience
  • Designing for sustainability and diversity

For a more detailed analysis of the topic, view this overview on CX trends.


Customer Experience Management (CEM) aims at creating and delivering exceptional experiences to customers throughout their journey with a product, service or brand. It involves understanding customer needs, expectations, and preferences and aligning business strategies to meet and exceed them. 

CEM encompasses activities such as mapping customer journeys, gathering feedback, and continuously optimizing interactions to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

By investing in CEM, businesses can differentiate themselves from competition, increase satisfaction, and ultimately achieve growth and success on a competitive market.

Feeling ready to start with CX management now?

Start proactively managing your customer experience! With Smaply you can create personas to generate empathy with your customers, and consciously optimize the customer experience based on customer journey maps. 

For free. Forever.

Manage CX with Smaply