6 Steps to Optimize Your Customer Experience (CX)
If one adage has held true since the dawn of commerce (in about 10,000 B.C., when early civilizations traded cattle), it’s that happy customers are loyal customers. Businesses which go the extra mile to make their customers feel special tend to retain them and, in the long run, reduce churn, increase revenue and reap higher profits.
In latter-day terminology, this is known as “customer experience” (CX). Particularly as the world grows increasingly digital, and in-person interactions grow fewer, business leaders are placing more and more emphasis on CX strategies. A recent survey of 1,920 corporate leaders revealed that instituting new CX solutions was the top priority for their businesses in the next five years.
Why? Because customers expect it. A recent report from American Express determined that 86% of customers are happy to pay more for better treatment — but very few feel like they’re getting it.
Despite the fact that 80% of companies feel that they deliver a superior experience, only 8% of customers feel that they receive a superior experience.
Corporations know CX is important, they don’t always know how to provide it.
We see an alarming divide between consumer and corporate conceptions of “superior CX.” It’s not surprising, given the seismic shifts the commercial world has undergone since the advent— and subsequent dominance— of the internet; what leaders used to be able to provide in person, they now must either delegate or outsource, often to subcontractors in far-flung geographic regions.
Businesses who want to compete in the modern corporate landscape have no choice but to prioritize CX. This process will look different for every company. But no matter who you are, what service you provide, or how you hope to grow, better CX starts with your values and extends to all members of your team. In this article, we provide a few coordinates to guide your organization-wide CX upgrade.
1. Elucidate your Values
Determining how to improve your CX starts with understanding what kind of experience you want your customers to have. Of course you want your customers to have a “good” experience at the now-innumerable touchpoints they have with your business — but what exactly does “good” mean for you?
In other words, what do you believe in? Take some time to determine what very specific values are central to your organization. Condense these concepts into a value statement, a brief articulation of what matters to you. As you navigate the CX overhaul, these values will define the type of experience you design for your customers.
2. Form Bonds with Your Customers
Great CX depends equally on knowing who your customers are and taking proactive steps to engage with them. Think of it like a dinner party: Before planning a menu, hosts ask if guests have any dietary restrictions, as serving steak tartare to a vegan would make for a very unsavory DPX (dinner party experience).
Tailoring a CX to your specific constituency depends on understanding their demographics, communication preferences, social media habits, and more. Develop systems for collecting this data in an ethical, transparent way.
Then, find ways to establish emotional bonds with your customers. This begins with your content and messaging — authenticity is key — and extends into all customer interactions. Customers whose problems are addressed promptly, who are treated with kindness and compassion, and who feel truly valued are three times as likely to recommend your services to their friends and family.
3. Form Bonds with Your Employees
As we explored in our recent article on employee experience, great CX depends as much on engaged, cared-for employees as on engaged, cared-for customers. No two employees are exactly alike. Therefore, no two employees should be treated identically.
Understand productivity drivers for each specific position, and design working arrangements around them. Ask employees about their personal circumstances — their family lives, work styles, and preferred learning methods — and incorporate these into leadership expectations. Embrace differences in mindset, as diversity of perspective is as essential to healthy corporate ecosystems as biological diversity is to healthy natural ecosystems.
4. Reinvest in Employee Competencies
What kinds of additional training would benefit your team? If you have customer service representatives, more education about the nuances of your industry would make them more efficient problem-solvers. For collaborative creative teams, teaching adjacent skillsets (e.g., teaching design principles to marketers) would streamline their joint efforts.
Giving employees a chance to develop more core competencies has myriad benefits. It demonstrates care, increasing employee loyalty and improving retention rates. It makes employees more autonomous, empowering them to address new and bigger challenges. All of this motivates them to give you — and your customers — their very best.
5. Solicit and Absorb Feedback
All success starts with excellent planning — and all plans are subject to change. Aeroplane pilots set flight plans before takeoff, but then “…the plane is off-course 90 percent of the time,” as “weather conditions, turbulence, and other factors cause it to get off-track,” writes Stephen R. Covey in How to Develop Your Personal Mission Statement.
To make sure your CX plan remains on-course, collect as much feedback as you can. This extends to both customers and employees. Have the values you outlined at the beginning of the process permeated the entire organization? Have customer interactions established positive connections with the organization? Do employees feel satisfied and motivated in the professional environment?
Particularly on the employee side, businesses often solicit yearly feedback, but that’s nowhere near enough. A lot can change in a year (see: 2020), and companies need more thorough data to know how their employees feel. Constant customer feedback is essential, of course, but so is regular employee feedback.
6. Set Standards and Measure Results
“Good CX” is vague; “Improve our net promoter score (NPS) by 5%” is specific. How do your customer satisfaction metrics stack up against the rest of your industry? How far do you have to go, and how quickly can you expect to get there?
By this point, you’ll have invested a fair amount of time, energy and capital into improving your CX. Setting clear ROI standards and evaluating their impact on your bottom line will help you determine where you’ve been successful, and where you need to improve.
Recent research determined that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies not focused squarely on their customers. Today’s customers expect more thoughtful, compassionate treatment, and they overwhelmingly report that businesses are slow to provide it.
As you can see, getting your CX up to speed with consumer expectations is no mean feat. It depends on clearly articulating your values, applying those values to all internal and external processes, and measuring whether your application methods are working. For a task that substantial, it pays to partner with an expert.
At The Strategy Group, we are devoted to developing customer-centric strategies to help organizations meet and exceed modern CX expectations. Through close collaboration, we guide you through this entire process, employing our powerful and unique to develop a CX strategy tailored for your organization.
Contact us today to find out how The Strategy Group can help to design the CX strategy you need for your organization to delight customers and flourish. You can also learn more about how to create a winning customer experience strategy here, or how the Strategy Group can assist you to shape delightful customer experiences here.
Have any questions? Want to know how we can help you and your organisation? Contact us using this form.
We can work with you to design and support implementation of a strategy for your business unit, for your entire organisation, or for any segment of your organisation where a fresh approach will add value.
We will use a combination of globally-recognised leading-edge processes, coupled with our proprietary validated toolbox to develop a bespoke, customised strategy, which we can assist you in implementing, that will deliver tangible impact and value to your organisation and your customers.
We have been designing and implementing strategy solutions since 2003 and we have the expertise and the experience not only to deliver, but to overdeliver.
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