“Where do you start when developing a customer experience strategy?”
I was recently asked this question by a friend of mine who is new to the profession. She had just been promoted at a company that had never had a CX function before and needed to create everything from scratch. The following post details my response to her.
To start with, let’s define the term “strategy”. A strategy is simply “the statement of a goal and a high-level plan for how it’s going to be achieved”. You might want to think about it in terms of a map showing where you want to go and how you plan to get there.
When developing anything to do with CX, I usually start with the customer but with a CX strategy, your starting point is your organisation. What is the company’s purpose? What is its vision? What are its goals. You need to ensure what you’re creating flows from why the company exists and where it wants to go so that you’re aligned with the company’s overarching strategy. In terms of the map analogy, there’s no point plotting a route from Melbourne to Sydney if the company is heading to New York.
Now it’s time to look at your customers. What do you know about them in terms of their drivers, preferences, and/or behaviour? Build a picture of your customers using such sources of insight as customer feedback, employee feedback, social media data, even customer comments in web forums. What are customers telling you about their wants and needs? Armed with this information, you can build your strategy around consistently meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
But if you don’t feel like you know enough about your customers’ wants and needs, then start with a list of things that frustrate your customers about dealing with your company and base your strategy on the elimination of those.
If you don’t have customer feedback data to build this list of pain points from, get out of the office and meet with some of your customers. Nothing beats talking directly with customers and I guarantee you people will be happy to talk with you if they think you’re actually going to be doing something with what they tell you.
Another valuable resource to consult here is your frontline staff. These people deal with customers every single day – they know better than anyone what’s frustrating them.
Now that you’re clear about what your organisation stands for and what matters to your customers, it’s time to define your CX Vision. This is your customer experience aspiration. A good CX Vision is simple, specific, inspiring and will unite the organisation behind a common goal.
It’s also realistic – there’s no point defining a vision that the company cannot consistently deliver on. And the word ‘consistent’ is important here. You have to deliver this experience to customers at every interaction on every single day of the year. It is consistency that separates the great companies from the mediocre ones.
In the words of consulting house, McKinsey, a great CX Vision will “inspire, align, and guide an organisation but also bring innovation, energy, and a human face to what would otherwise just be strategy.” Amazon’s CX Vision is “to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” I don’t know about you, but I find that incredibly inspiring!
The next step in the process is to develop your principles. CX principles are the pillars that guide all actions and investments relating to customer experience. They are the criteria against which any new initiative or offer is reviewed to ensure your organisation is delivering its brand promise. Once they’ve been developed, a good set of principles will become the lens through which all future business decisions are evaluated to ensure your company is providing a consistent customer experience.
They are, of course, rooted in what matters to your customers. Some examples might be: “we make it easy”, “we’re there in the moments that matter”, or “we go the extra mile”. When developing CX strategies in the past I’ve always kept the number of principles to a maximum of four. Don’t make your strategy unnecessarily complex by having more than that or you risk overburdening and confusing your fellow employees who will be working to these principles daily.
Once you have your principles, sanity check them by extrapolating out what they mean for customers overall and at each stage of the customer journey. Doing this puts you in the shoes of staff who will be applying these principles on a day-to-day basis. It makes it clear how you expect these guidelines to be enacted and going through this exercise will tell you if the principles you’ve drafted are realistic.
Now you’ve got your CX Vision and Principles it’s time to move on to your Strategic Priorities. These are the things you’re going to focus on in the short term to achieve your CX Vision. Going back to my map analogy, this is the initial route you’re going to take to get to your destination. While your vision and principles are set in the long term, your Strategic Priorities will quite likely change over time.
By definition, your Vision and Principles will be quite broad. Your Strategic Priorities will be a bit more focused. What are the areas you’re going to work on in the short term to deliver what your customers expect of you? To bring them into even sharper focus, I recommend including the individual initiatives you intend to deploy to achieve each Priority.
Finally, we have the CX Enablers. These are the people, processes and systems without which your CX program will not function successfully. Think about things like your employee experience program, your Voice of the Customer program, your CX governance, and your CX dashboard which you’ll use to track the progress of your program.
In terms of how you display all of this information to make it easily digestible, it’s a little cliché but I like to use a house diagram. In the roof of the house show your organisation’s purpose and objectives and your CX Vision. Within the walls of the house show your principles up around the ceiling and your strategic priorities and initiatives towards the floor. Finally, under the house, you have your foundations; the things that keep the house from falling over. Down here, show your Enablers.
To make it easy, I’ve uploaded a template which you can access using the following link:
If you’re going to have a crack at developing your own CX strategy after reading this post, I hope I’ve helped. If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn or Twitter.
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