THE CHANGE AGENT
Optimising the customer experience, with clear line-of-sight into your customers’ journeys, can unlock growth and lead to better outcomes for your business.
The Journey of Customer Experience
There are a lot of ways brands influence customer purchased decisions and compete for customer loyalty. But there’s a reason brands absolutely obsess over delivering exceptional customer experiences—it plays a huge role in the buying decision. In fact, 90% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service if it comes with great CX.1
Customer experience is the quality of the relationship a customer has with your company. CX is shaped by the cumulative interactions a customer has with your brand, from viewing ads on social media to conversations with your sales force or customer support team to walking into a physical store.
In general, most organisations have a good idea about how their customers experience their brand. It’s become standard practice for companies to have robust customer satisfaction or voice-of-the-customer programmes that track customer delight and customer pain points.
So where do you start? Step one begins with really getting to know the customer and their journey. The work of shaping a CX strategy should follow these steps:
- Spend time reflecting on your goals for your relationship with your customer and do some baseline investigation of your internal tools and processes.
- Get to know your customer and learn about their relevant (and sometimes not so relevant but illuminating) needs and frustrations.
- Distill what you’ve observed into key learning and opportunity areas, creating maps of the customer’s current experiences.
- Generate ideas, imagining new possibilities for or in support of customer interactions.
- Sort, group and prioritise these ideas into a recommendation and roadmap.
- Share your findings in a way that illuminates the vision’s possibilities and provides you with the inspiration and communication tools to move forward.
It’s important to consider that initiatives included in a CX strategy may not all be customer-facing. Great customer experiences are dependent on strong internal relationships and processes, integrated tools and shared data.
The customer experience is shaped by the entirety of a customer’s journey rather than any single interaction. The customer journey is rarely, if ever, linear. Your customers start and stop and retrace their steps. They jump from a digital channel to an in-store experience and back again. Customers create their own path to purchase rather than follow a predetermined process. This can make it nearly impossible to understand the customer’s context—where have they been, where are they now and where are they going?
Mapping your customers’ journey provides clear, simple references and shared understanding of their interactions with your brand as well as insight into their needs. Customer journey maps help you identify commonalities and opportunities to serve customers more efficiently, fixing pain points and repeating processes that resulted in successful interactions. Focus on making each experience a little better than it was yesterday. Optimising the customer experience, with clear line of sight into your customers’ journeys, can unlock growth and lead to better outcomes for your business.
Perspectives on how companies that prioritise the customer and develop an effective and ever-evolving CX strategy will see continued success and unlock growth across their customer value chain.
This Time, It's Personal
In any business, customer experience is what drives the customer value chain. It’s directly responsible for initial sales, repeat sales, customer loyalty and social brand advocacy—all of which essentially determine the success of a business.
Think about brands you deliberately avoid—that sentiment is rooted in your experience as a customer. You may grudgingly accept becoming a customer if you have a dire need or limited options, but they’re not winning your loyalty and you certainly won’t recommend that brand to others. That’s what makes a compelling CX strategy so critical.
Several factors prevent success or slow down a brand’s ability to implement an effective customer experience strategy. The most common problem is that they lack a customer-centric mindset. Brands may claim to be to be customer-obsessed, but organisations tend to focus internally on their products, services and financial goals. Customers don’t care about a brand’s financial goals, and they aren’t motivated to purchase by your list of service offerings. Your customers have specific problems they need to solve and needs they’re trying to fulfill. Rather than looking inwards, brands should fixate on how their customers experience their brand. Then, they should focus on how to invest in people, processes and technology to innovate and deliver a better customer experience based on those CX insights.
A second problem is the lack of agreement with regard to a CX strategy. Brands invest a lot of time and resources in defining strategies to leapfrog the competition. They talk in sweeping platitudes about their desire to delight customers through digital innovation. But that’s a rather nebulous claim and almost impossible to execute, not to mention the risk involved in making such broad, sweeping changes. Companies would be much better served by focusing on incremental innovation. Your customers’ experience is purely a function of the expectations they had coming into their next interaction with your brand. Consider your customers’ expectations today and deliver an experience that exceeds them. Focus on making each customer interaction just a little better each time.
Siloed business operations—and in some cases, the organization’s structure and hierarchy—is another headwind that can slow down progress. Securing buy-in from across the organisation is critical when you’re establishing a CX strategy, and that starts at the very top with the C-suite. Senior leadership must set the tone for building a culture focused on the customer. Every function of the business must have a clear understanding of their impact the customer experience journey. For example, your invoicing department may create amazing customer experiences, but if your CX strategy didn’t link back to the purchasing department, you’ve negated all the positive headway made towards delighting your customers.
Elevating the customer experience has been proven to be an integral part of an organisation’s strategy. At the end of the day, customers don’t care if you claim you have omnichannel or multichannel capabilities or that you are meeting your financial goals for the year. They care about the connection that is made, the way it’s made, and the quality of the service being provided. They want an experience that meets or exceeds their expectations. Organisations that prioritise the customer and develop an effective and ever-evolving CX strategy will see continued success and unlock growth across their customer value chain.