Keeping customers happy is sometimes a lot easier said than done, especially now that customers are making contact with brands through multiple touch points, both on- and off-line. On the plus side, customer feedback is more readily available and honest than ever, but when customer data can be gained from so many different sources at so many different times, gleaning meaningful and actionable insights can be tricky.

Results from Gartner’s “CMO Spend Survey 2015: Eye on the Buyer” show that customer experience was the area of biggest marketing spend in 2014 and will be the top innovation priority for many businesses in 2015. A happy customer is more likely to make positive recommendations to others and ultimately spend more money more frequently, so perfecting customer experience should be a number one business priority.

So how can brands increase customer loyalty, satisfaction and revenues in a streamlined way?

A number of cloud-based customer experience management (CEM) solutions have recently emerged to help business overcome the common pitfalls of gathering and managing customer insight; the best of which can combine big data analytics and years of real-world engagement experience into a powerful, lightweight and easy-to-use package.

Here are my five reasons why putting customer experience management in the cloud unlocks real benefits for businesses and customers.

1. Moving At The Speed Of Your Customer

Implementing and using cloud-based solutions is now faster and more cost-effective than ever before. These solutions give businesses the customer insight they need as soon as it’s available and can be up and running in days not months, so action can be taken immediately. In such a fast paced online customer environment, reacting to customer feedback weeks after it’s given is essentially useless.

Using a cloud-based solution, data is processed very quickly and can be accessed with little more than a few clicks. This speed is of the essence when determining whether customers are Promoters, Passives or Detractors, with real-time data helping businesses uncover potential issues quickly and resolve them before they become problematic.

This rapid response mechanism allows businesses to fine-tune their content and deliver immediate, relevant and effective marketing that further encourages loyalty. This improves overall customer satisfaction levels, and simultaneously lowers customer churn rates.

2. Customer Surveys Are A Dying Breed

The evolution of cloud-based CEM solutions is helping businesses to reduce their dependence on customer surveys. Customer are tired of being asked what they think in a way that doesn’t acknowledge their individuality and relationship with a brand, so customer experience professionals need to get creative. The cloud gives brands an opportunity to speed up the implementation of voice of the customer (VOC) programmes, social listening tools and other methods of analysing unstructured customer data.

Although brands may not always like what they hear on social media, they should always listen to these candid updates. Listening to social media feedback gives businesses with the opportunity to stay one step ahead of the competition and show customers they are responding to their needs. And there’s a raft of smart customer experience tools to help them do it alongside their current processes.

3. The Cloud Evolves With Your Business

Any good provider of cloud-based CEM software will regularly improve the solution they provide to ensure their clients receive the highest levels of performance and quality and are continuously getting the most out of their software.

Customers can be kept as up-to-date as possible because business systems are frequently updated and data is constantly flowing in both directions. This means CEM programmes can react and respond to rapidly changing customer sentiment and the revenue drivers of your business without requiring a costly and time-consuming system overhaul. Recently businesses have turned their attention to measuring feedback along the entire length of the customer lifetime journey, which can be extremely difficult in siloed customer management systems.

4. Stopping Savings Falling Through The Cracks

The Gartner survey released last month hails ‘customer experience’ as the new battleground in the war for profit. There’s no doubt that the faster a business can act on customer feedback the more chance it has to reward a promoter or convert a detractor, which combats churn and drives revenue growth.

A cloud-based CEM solution takes a matter of days to implement and can be the source of near-immediate insight into the key drivers of customer loyalty and satisfaction. Cost-wise, most cloud-based solutions are provided on a self-provisioning, subscription basis, reducing the risks of upfront investment and spiralling costs and recouping lost revenues.

5. A Driving Force For Change

To enable relevant and intelligent decision making at all levels of the business, a top performing cloud-based customer experience programme is the best solution. It delivers accurate, immediate customer responses in an easy to understand format that empowers better decision making throughout a business. This can be a crucial turning point for the culture of organisations looking to put customer experience at the fore of their growth plans.

In order to prevent unhappy customers taking their business to a competitor, they must be quickly identified and contacted by a dedicated department that will listen to and solve their problems. This is as much about a customer-centric culture within a business as training and equipping employees with the right tools.

There are new methods of gathering and analysing both structured and unstructured customer data that should also be a part of any cloud-based CEM solution. The key to improving customer loyalty is the ability to hear what customers want, react to it quickly and to prevent problems from happening again. Businesses need to forget the tired methods of measuring customer satisfaction and start taking advantage of the speed and agility offered by cloud technology: all gain, no pain