How to Develop a Winning Customer Experience Strategy
There’s no doubt that a stellar customer experience (CX) is necessary for brand success. And to make it happen, you’re going to need a winning strategy.
Competition is fierce out there. Today’s consumers have higher expectations for their interactions with brands, and in most cases, plenty of other options if they decide to jump ship. The onus is on businesses themselves to optimise the customer experience wherever possible — an effort that doesn’t just keep customers around but is integral to revenue growth and the development of brand loyalty and advocacy.
So how do you develop a customer experience strategy that meets the needs of both your team and your audience? It starts with leveling out your own expectations.
Rolling out a successful CX strategy isn’t something that happens overnight, nor is it a one-and-done ordeal. Your customer experience strategy needs to be adaptable, with plenty of ongoing research so you can refine it over time. And there are plenty of reasons to make it a priority.
The Power of the Customer Experience
Before we dig into the details around how to build a customer experience strategy, let’s talk about why it’s worth putting in all the work.
In 2019, companies that prioritized and delivered on their customer experience strategy were 3-times more likely than their peers to significantly exceed their top business goals, especially when it came to profitability. (Among mass-market auto manufacturers alone, a mere one-point improvement in CX led to an additional billion dollars in revenue.)
If you put a premium on the customer experience, so will your customers themselves. The more you create, plan, and strategize with the end user in mind, the better you set yourself up to meet the mark in terms of customer experience. And a lot of customers are willing to pay more to get it.
Of course, the value of customer satisfaction extends far beyond profit. Happy customers are easier to retain, and they’re usually quite eager to share their positive experiences with their peers. The question then really isn’t why would you create a CX strategy, but why wouldn’t you?
How To Create a Customer Experience Strategy
You have everything to gain from designing and implementing a killer customer experience strategy. And to help you out, we’ve broken down the basics of how to do it, with plenty of tips to guide you along the way.
Define Your Objectives
It’s important that you clearly define what you’re trying to achieve with your CX strategy. Sure, happy and loyal customers are the end goal, but that’s a little too broad for your purposes. If you want to construct a solid base for customer experience success, a better way to do it is to set out the metrics that play into that experience and then break them down even further into SMART goals.
Some of the metrics that you might want to measure for when it comes to CX include:
- Customer retention
- Referrals and reviews
- Customer satisfaction scores
- Net promoter scores
- Repeat purchases
These metrics will help you quantify the customer experience before and after the introduction of your targeted CX efforts. And equally key, they’ll help guide your strategy in the first place by illuminating areas in need of improvement. Make sure your metrics are tied to specific goals, and if necessary, whittle each goal down even further to come up with even smaller goals you can achieve along the way.
Map Out Your Customer Journey
The customer experience starts even before a lead encounters your product or service. For that reason, you need to be optimizing for CX at every single stage and touchpoint of the customer journey.
As a marketer, you might be used to thinking of the customer journey from your own perspective — specifically, what you can do at each stage to further a lead along. But for the purposes of your CX strategy, you need to switch the focus and look at the journey from the perspective of your customers. It’s about instilling a feeling, not inspiring a purchase.
Note that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all customer journey map. While the stages themselves might be pretty standard (awareness → consideration → purchase → loyalty), the devil is in the details in terms of CX; specifically the interactions, behaviors, and unique challenges that your customers face along the way.
Start by mapping out the stages and the touchpoints within them, then look at your data to identify pain points and challenges. From there, you’ll be able to better hone in on where you should be focusing your strategy, as well as how to prioritize your various CX efforts.
Create Customer Personas
Next up is crafting your customer personas so that you can map each of them out individually on the customer journey. Different personas take different paths to a successful experience, with everyone bringing to the table their own problems, values, and expectations. And at the end of the day, you can’t strategize on a great customer experience if you don’t know exactly who you’re trying to devise it for.
To begin, work with your team to profile your current customers. Humanize them with as many details as you can so that you can relate to them on a personal level rather than just as a number. Outline each persona’s demographics, personality, and motivations, and as a useful exercise, include the other brands that this buyer might have a good experience with and what they like about them.
You can work with existing buyer personas your marketing team has already created, but tweak them to be CX specific. What behaviors does this customer engage in? What are their goals and frustrations? What channels do they use to interact with you? Be as specific as you can and you’ll build a really strong foundation from which to strategize from.
Set Up a Dedicated Team
All of the advice in the world on how to develop a customer experience strategy isn’t going to matter much if you don’t have a team to put it into action.
Your CX team should be as diverse as possible in terms of department, background, skills, and expertise. You want people who have keen insight on each of the touchpoints outlined in your customer journey and who can offer actionable ideas (and not just assumptions) on what your customers are looking for out of their experience. These are your customer experience Avengers, and everyone should bring value in some way.
In addition to setting up your team, make sure to assign a leader. Having one person in charge of overseeing brainstorming sessions, objectives, and assignments will help mitigate the risk of communication breakdowns. They’ll also serve as the connecting link between individuals who are coming from all over your corporate hierarchy.
Assess how customers perceive your brand
Brand perception is intrinsically linked with customer experience. An organisation that’s hitting it out of the park with CX is almost certainly going to have a perception that’s overwhelmingly positive, and the opposite is just as true.
There are a few different ways to measure brand perception, and all of them could be helpful to you as you develop your customer experience strategy:
Social listening. What are the conversations that people are having about you online? What pieces of your content are they most engaged with? Answers to questions like these will tell you a lot about how your brand is perceived and what it’s doing well (and maybe not so well).
Focus groups. You don’t have to go retro and stick a bunch of customers in a conference room, but you can arrange for digital, forum-based focus groups that give customers an opportunity to directly voice their opinions.
Surveys. As always, often the best way to know something is simply to ask. Set up surveys to measure some of your CX KPIs, including your net promoter score and customer satisfaction score, then use those insights as benchmarks for how to do better.
Reverse engineer your customer’s ideal experience
Here’s where things get fun. Have your CX team do a creative exercise where they imagine the ideal experience for each customer persona at each touchpoint. Starting with the ideal experience allows you to work backwards and figure out how to make it happen. It also helps you connect the dots between touchpoints and see more clearly how the proverbial CX sausage gets made.
To take this exercise a step further, throw some wrenches into the process and figure out what problems stand in the way of these happy endings coming to fruition. Each problem that you identify becomes a jumping off point from which you can find a solution, and that’s key for taking on the next step.
Do a gap analysis
Those problems that you’ve identified as preventing ideal customer experiences from happening are often not intentional — but they’re not flukes either. Within each problem is some sort of gap in the process and now is the time to suss it out.
Where are you faltering and why? Is it a lack of resources or tools? A lack of clear communication? A glitch in an otherwise seamless protocol? These are exactly where you want to be focusing your strategy. For every problem you find, come up with a solution; for every gap, a bridge. This is the crux of your CX strategy, providing you with concrete things that need to be accomplished if you’re going to provide a better customer experience. And once you know what they are, you’ll finally be ready to get to work.
Measure the results of your CX strategy
At this point you’ve identified your CX challenges and put in solutions to overcome them. The final task then becomes to measure the changes and see if you did in fact resolve the issues.
To do this, you’ll want to start by calculating your customer experience ROI, which is essentially the amount you invested on devising and implementing your CX strategy versus the lift in revenue you obtained as a result. The formula for doing so looks like this:
|100 x (Revenue Gain – Investment) / Investment = Customer Experience ROI|
Measure the performance of your other CX KPIs as well. Growth in repeat purchases and referrals both point to the success of your strategy, as do reductions in lost customers and negative reviews. For every goal that you set out at the start of this process, measure to see if you’ve met your objectives — or even better, exceeded them.
Ready To Get To Work?
Now that you know what you have to do, it’s time to get the ball rolling. And while it’s understandable to feel a bit overwhelmed by all that you need to do, keep in mind how much you have to gain. The benefits are definitely worth the effort, and any investment you make in your CX strategy is almost guaranteed to come back in spades.
Remember: this doesn’t all have to be done at once (and unless you’ve got the budget and resources for a dedicated CX pro, it probably won’t be). Your customer experience strategy can be molded over time, with tiny improvements that gradually build up into something more. Chances are you’ll need to tweak and refine as you go, too. You’re in this for the long haul though. Take a deep breath, take your time, and take the reins on the experience that customers have with your company.
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