When a business practice becomes trendy enough to merit its own acronym, you know things are getting serious. Customer experience, now known as CX, has become an important part of many companies’ strategy—and for good reason. But no matter how many Chief People Officers take the reins of customer service departments looking for a new way forward, it won’t amount to much in a silo.
Because today’s CX work doesn’t just happen in call centers or behind customer service counters. Building a winning customer experience strategy means thinking about how every part of your business comes together to give your customers a positive perception of your brand—or not.
To help you think holistically about your customer experience strategy, we’ve compiled our short list of best practices. We’ve been on the front lines helping businesses create repeat customers by providing a memorable and positive experience from front-end marketing such as sales, to deeper relationship aspects like renewals, repurchases, and everything in between.
Follow these steps to accomplish the customer experience objectives you’re after. But first…
What is a customer experience strategy?
A customer experience strategy reflects the careful alignment of your company’s goals, customer expectations, and the intersection of the two. It’s a playbook of actionable steps that are taken at every step of a customer’s journey with a brand to make that journey a pleasant one.
What is the role of customer experience?
Customer experience, as we stated earlier, is not just about customer service. Customer experience includes every possible point of contact for a customer from an ad on YouTube to the onboarding process to interactions with company employees throughout the customer experience. We believe in a continual touchpoint perspective because the relationship between the company and the customer is about more than just the sale; the relationship extends much further.
For that reason, it’s important to stop thinking of customer experience as a customer service matter. The real work of CX is to align every customer-facing element of a brand so that marketing promises are followed through during the customer relationship. In this way, dissatisfied customers are given attention from customer service teams who are equipped to not only understand the customer’s perspective, but also to provide a solution that jives with everything that customer has come to expect.
Companies that adopt best practices for customer experience are dedicated to excellence. A clear purpose and a well-articulated customer journey also means employees understand how they contribute to the company’s overall goals. They know how and why their work matters, which gives them a sense of meaningful purpose. In turn, that creates a more positive experience for the customers they serve.
A clearly-defined customer experience strategy yields:
- Better employee engagement
- Higher customer retention
- Lower cost of customer acquisition
- Accelerated revenue growth
When you create a great experience, customers will trust you as an authority and will organically gravitate to you through positive word-of-mouth referrals from existing customers.
How do you develop a customer experience strategy?
Construct a cross-functional customer experience framework
Some companies approach customer experience as a department, when in reality it isn’t. Customer experience is a philosophy that orchestrates the way departments operate within a company. High performing companies are aligned across every department to build trust and deliver customer experience excellence.
Product teams need to listen to sales and customer support teams to influence development priorities. Sales needs to understand how new product features work and how marketing is positioning them. Even the IT department has an opportunity to reinforce the company’s brand. All of these teams work together, along with leadership, to present a singular, unified, trustworthy experience for customers.
When companies become trusted advisors they are more likely to earn highly profitable, long-term customers. That means the customers’ experiences have to be consistent, regardless of the departments they interact with.
Develop a unique mantra to boost customer engagement.
When companies create their foundational principles, they often develop a Mission, Vision and Values. These can be useful tools, but they’re about the company––not about the customer. Missions, Visions and Values don’t function effectively as guides for customer engagement. Companies need to guide employee interaction with customers. They need a mantra.
Ali Cudby’s Keep Your Customers describes a company mantra as, “an internal message that gives your people a focal point. It is both a catchphrase and a rallying point.” The most famous example of a mantra is probably one of the worst: “The customer is always right.” 99.9% of the time, this mantra is wrong! The customer is not always right, and companies that bend to the whim of every unreasonable customer are in for a world of hurt. It simply isn’t sustainable.
Instead, consider the mantra adopted by Indianapolis-based ClusterTruck, a vertically-integrated, delivery-only restaurant business. When ClusterTruck launched, CEO Chris Baggott told his staff, “Don’t Ship Maybes.” ClusterTruck uses “Don’t Ship Maybes” in every department at the company, from the kitchen to HR. Their company mantra empowers employees to make decisions in tough customer-facing situations. Employees know if they can justify a decision by relating it back to the mantra.
Understand your company’s customer loyalty drivers.
Every point of interaction a customer has with your company results in an overarching question: Is that interaction going to build loyalty or block it?
Sometimes you don’t know the answer because that moment in your customer’s journey happened without you. For example, let’s say a software customer buys your product, but struggles when they sit down to use their purchase. They’re all alone with their computer, and their frustration will be your problem if you don’t have a good solution.
A good customer experience strategy builds experience maps with those moments in mind. They think through the challenges customers might face at a given point and thoughtfully design the customer’s journey accordingly. Experience maps minimize interactions that might block loyalty while doubling down on opportunities to build loyalty.
Prioritize the emotional connections.
People tend to think we’re rational creatures. Research says otherwise. McKinsey & Co has determined that a whopping 70% of a purchase decision is actually made based on how people feel they’re being treated in the buying process. Feelings – not logic – rule the day.
But emotion doesn’t just drive buying behaviors. We are wired for connection. We want to feel seen, heard and valued. Best practice companies recognize this fundamental human need and know that people are loyal to organizations that appreciate them.
Appreciation occurs when companies can articulate customer needs and challenges. Companies that take the time to authentically understand their customers at that level can teach employees the empathy needed for connection.
Use Customer Experience Strategy Playbooks with Alignmint Growth Strategies
So, down to brass tacks: In order to deliver an exceptional and unique customer experience, companies must give employees the tools that lead to customer satisfaction. That means playbooks. Playbooks clearly breakdown step-by-step processes that combine all of the best practices we’ve described.
- Playbooks deliver interdepartmental action steps to ensure company-wide consistency
- They align with your company’s mantra for customer experience
- Playbooks enhance customer loyalty and minimize anything that blocks loyalty
- They are optimized to make people feel seen, heard and valued.
With Playbooks, employees know exactly what to do and how to be successful in their jobs, and customers receive consistent excellence from their experiences with your company.
Alignment Growth Strategies is committed to helping you develop and enhance your company’s customer experience strategy.
Want the handy cheat-sheet?
Click here to download the infographic as a customer experience strategy PDF.
Want help developing your company’s customer experience strategy?
Learn more about ways Alignmint Growth Strategies can help you apply these practices in your company.