Customer Experience Strategy
WHAT IS IT & WHY IT MATTERS
What is a Customer Experience Strategy?
A Customer Experience Strategy is an organisation’s overarching plan to enhance their customers experience in every interaction in the Customer Journey. Key elements of a Customer Experience Strategy (CX Strategy) include in-depth qualitative customer research, customer journey maps, culture change and other key elements which support the organisation in creating a brilliant customer experience.
Why you need a Customer Experience Strategy
Customer experience (CX) is everything related to a business that affects a customer’s perception and feelings about it. It is the overall “experience” that the customer goes away with after every interaction and transaction. Humans remember experiences – the positive as well as the negative.
To ensure the growth of any organisation, it is crucial to consistently provide a great experience to every customer. This applies regardless of which part of the organisation they interact with.
Whether it’s a call to a contact centre, exposure to an advertisement or even something as mundane as the payment of a bill, every exchange between customers and businesses builds (or damages) the relationship.
Most importantly, it’s how customers view those experiences in aggregate that matters.
“Customer experience is how a customer feels about the sum of their interactions with a business,” says Dave Dyson, Sr. Customer Service Evangelist, Zendesk. “It involves every way a customer interacts with a company, at all stages of the customer journey including the marketing materials they see before they become a customer, the sales experience, the quality of the product or service itself, and the customer service they receive post-purchase.”
A customer experience strategy is important for a business to survive and grow. Without one, an organisation can be at a disadvantage compared to its competitors. By ensuring an organisation-wide focus on the customer experience, a CX strategy can be pivotal to an organisation’s ongoing success.
What’s the difference?
Customer experience vs customer service
The difference between customer service and customer experience is that customer service is one factor in the customer journey while customer experience is the sum of all a customer’s interactions with the brand.
In other words, customer service is one piece of the customer experience puzzle.
While organisations think they are delivering an amazing customer experience, they may actually only be delivering an adequate level of customer service. While the trend these days is for customer-service personnel to ask “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” this, in reality, creates a negative customer experience. It is a non-sensical question. If there was something else that could be done, the caller would ask for it. If there isn’t, and usually there isn’t, what is the point of the question?
In order to deliver a great customer experience, great customer service must be provided. Conversely, great customer service might be provided while the overall customer experience is very poor. Customer experience is your customers’ holistic perception of their overall experience with your business or brand.
Only by driving the optimisation of customer experience throughout all areas of an organisation, can it truly claim to be customer-centric.
How Does this help you?
In the past, numerous organisations became complacent. They believed that their customers would always return and that their competitive advantage would shield them from new competitors.
Now, these organisations are struggling or no longer exist. These organisations believed they were safe. They thought it would be difficult for new competitors to enter the market. They also believed that customers would stay loyal, even if a competitor offered a better customer experience.
With the advent of the internet and the digital era, we now know the belief to be a fallacy. The perceived competitive advantage is impenetrable until it isn’t. When an organisation loses its focus on the customer, it leaves itself at the mercy to dynamic customer-centric players. Complacency seeps in and an inward focus becomes the dominant narrative.
This is shown by this quote from the CEO of the Hilton Group Christopher Nassetta in 2015 when discussing the threat of Airbnb, “I strongly do not believe that they are a major threat to the core value proposition we have. I think it’s extremely hard for them to replicate what we’re doing”. Hilton could have prevented Airbnb from surpassing the top five hotel chains if they had a better understanding of their customers.
We have seen industries such as media, retail and travel disrupted beyond recognition, with others such as financial services, utilities and health being in the midst of game-changing transformation. The common thread that links these industries, was the lack of customer-centricity from the established players. While their customers’ expectations of what great customer experience looked like had changed significantly, they were in thrall to what had worked for them in the past being good enough to secure their future.
Poor customer experience just doesn’t cut it anymore. Customers now have a range of options to choose from and will go elsewhere if their expectations aren’t being matched.
No barrier to entry is high enough to prevent the tech behemoths (e.g. Amazon, Google etc.) from entering the market. If they sense an opportunity to improve customer experience and the value that that entails, no business model is safe.
The organisations that have weathered the storm and come out stronger than before, are those that have placed the customer front and centre of their strategy. Customer-centric organisations have built robust business models that rely on delivering excellence in customer experience over all else. This has built customer loyalty by focusing on the customer’s lifetime value over any short-term gains that could diminish their experience.
what makes great experiences?
Defining a great customer experience
Firstly, let’s delve into the importance of personalisation. In today’s digital age, data-driven insights allow businesses to customise experiences down to individual preferences. This doesn’t merely impress the customer; it makes them feel understood and valued. Personalisation creates a pathway for deepening the emotional connection between brand and consumer, which goes beyond the transactional relationship.
Secondly, let’s discuss the role of technology. Adopting innovative tools is not just for operational efficiency; it can revolutionise the customer journey. For instance, chatbots and AI-driven support can offer instant solutions, ensuring customer queries are addressed swiftly. This reflects agility—one of our core brand values—in responding to customer needs.
Moreover, the essence of integrity and transparency cannot be understated. Often, customers want to know the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of your products or services. They want to know you’re as committed to ethical practices as they are. Make this information readily accessible and straightforward, and it can dramatically elevate the customer experience.
Let’s not forget the human touch. Empathy plays a critical role in customer experience. A mere acknowledgment of a problem can go a long way; it makes your customers feel heard and understood. Be prepared to go the extra mile; exceeding expectations can turn a casual customer into a brand advocate.
Lastly, moments of impact can’t always be planned, but they can be optimised for. Whether it’s sending a thank you note after a purchase or following up on feedback, these are the moments that remain etched in customers’ minds. They’re simple yet powerful affirmations that a business genuinely cares about its customers.
So, a great customer experience is not an endpoint but an ongoing process. It’s an evolving strategy that requires a mix of innovation, empathy, agility, integrity, and expertise. By creating a culture that values customer-centricity at its core, you lay the foundation for not just meeting but exceeding customer expectations, thereby turning them into brand advocates.
There is no single universal checklist to follow to guarantee good customer experience: every organisation is unique and so are their customers. However, a poll of 2000 CX professionals across many industries (hotjar.com) lists some of the key takeaways:
- Make listening to customers a top priority across the business
- Implement a system to help you collect feedback, analyse it, and act on it regularly
- Reduce friction and solve your customers’ specific problems and unique challenges
- It’s not rocket science: a good customer experience comes from asking your customers questions, listening to their responses, and actioning their feedback
In their book The Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Heath define a “peak moment” of customer experience comprised as one or more of the following:
Moments of elevation are experiences that rise above the routine. They make us feel engaged, joyful, surprised, motivated
Moments of pride commemorate people’s achievements. They are showing us at our best: when earning recognition, when we’re conquering challenges and showing courage.
Moments of insight deliver realisations and transformations.
Moments of connection bind us together
Customer Experience Strategy Insights
The democratisation of AI is levelling the playing field, allowing smaller companies to compete effectively with their larger counterparts.
A robust AI strategy is the cornerstone for businesses aiming to stay competitive and innovative. Let’s dive into how you can formulate a winning AI strategy for your business.
Successful digital transformation necessitates a clear and effective framework, rooted in empathy.
Why The Strategy Group
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