Customer Experience Strategy is a term widely used to mean very different things for a lot of companies. Most brands get lost in the conundrum regarding the differences between customer experience strategy and customer service, which are different. And as this CX Innovation space evolves, what we know as ‘customer experience’ continues to evolve as well. In this post, we wanted to define Customer Experience Strategy in terms of how we utilize it with our clients, and cover how any company can look to create a GREAT customer experience strategy.
But first, a definition:
Simply put, customer experience is the sum total of all the interactions between a customer and an organization – including discovery, initiation, purchase, service, and advocacy.
“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all” – Michael LeBoeuf
Every single brand interaction impacts your customer experience (online and offline), and therefore, your customer loyalty. (Louder for our friends in the back!)
So now that we’ve defined this ever-evolving term, let’s go over how you can create a great customer experience strategy:
1. Deeply understand your audience
Today’s consumer expects more from the brands they choose to buy from and engage with. Long gone are the days where superficial information about them (location, age, gender, etc) is all you needed to reach them. You need to understand your customer’s needs more than ever, and be able to take them through a journey that allows them to build trust with you – which eventually turns them into buyers. One of the best ways to dive deeper into your customer is to create customer archetypes (also known as personas/profiles).
Customer personas challenge you to think about all areas of you customer’s journey and helps you identify where you can unique serve in that journey. From there, you can easily tailor your messaging and create a more thoughtful customer experience for that particular customer.
2. Work backwards from the customer experience you want to deliver
Steve Jobs famously advocated for “beginning with the customer experience and working backward to the technology”. This is for good reason – it’s much easier to reverse-engineer your strategy based on the end result than building the latter from the ground up. However, in order to do that, you need to know how your customer experiences your brand at all stages. Where are your opportunities to make impressions and create connection? For example, Amazon (now a behemoth), started with a very simple customer experience opportunity – early delivery. From there, you can imagine how they might have reverse-engineered the steps to make that strategy a reality.
3. Hire A-Players and get them invested into the process
A-Players are a unique AboutFace methodology that drives all of our hiring practices. A-players, by definition, are harder to manage because they’re bursting at the seams with creativity and innovation. But if nurtured well, they become fierce executioners who will own and help define your broader customer experience strategy. Simply put, employees are key to creating an excellent customer experience. In our experience, it’s the little things at the end of the day that make tiny differences in how your brand is perceived. It’s the same reason why we love it when we go out to dinner with our friends for our birthday and the manager comes over to wish us a happy birthday – or the bartender sends over a special cocktail.
How your employees engage with customers speaks volumes – so make sure you get A-Players who deeply care about your company’s vision and values.
4. ASK, & LISTEN
Did you know..
Research from Bain & Company showcased this – and leaders everywhere should be shaking in their boots.
How can you know customers’ needs without asking? And how can you assess brand value without asking?
This is why it’s essential to create feedback loops – which require the company to ask, and listen. There are a lot of creative ways to do this, some of which include a post-interaction or real-time feedback survey, which allows you to followup with customers with more detail. Another, and we would argue (of critical importance), is to see what is being said on social – the good, the bad, the ugly. Customers are incredibly honest on their platforms, and there’s a goldmine of data in there if you’re willing to listen.
5. Build systems for quick and effective solutions
After you’ve digested your customer feedback, it’s time to swiftly and effectively respond. Every single stage in the customer lifecycle should have a support system in place. Here are some ways you can provide thoughtful and effective customer support:
- Live chat: chat bots are super effective ways to provide quick response times to improve your customer’s experience with your brand. Also, live chats are easily integrated into pretty much all CRM and Marketing technologies so that you can reach out to then later and get them re-engaged with the brand.
- Social media messaging tools: since a lot of feedback happens on social channels, heavily monitoring those and quickly responding with direct messages, comments and other engagements, allows you to step up your customer experience game. (Bonus – it also allows others to see that you take your customer experience seriously. Like the saying goes, you attract more bees with honey!)
- Traditional surveys and feedback forms still serve a monumental purpose: Using tools like Typeform, you can integrate automations, photos, and humor in your survey experience.