For any organisation striving to significantly improve customer experience, they need a plan to do so. That’s because the ability to design and deliver great customer experience doesn’t “just happen.” It’s planned. Which is where a customer experience strategy comes into play.
Your customer experience strategy is a framework for bringing your CX vision to life. It’s a way to help your company systematically make decisions that allow you to consistently meet and exceed customer expectations.
Many companies struggle to operationalise their customer experience strategies
The fact is, many customer experience strategies don’t deliver the desired results. That’s because without defined details and clear direction, it’s easy to waste time, resources and effort on the journey to becoming more customer focused. In other words, it’s hard for companies to bring their experience strategies to life.
But for those who do, the payoffs are great. Because a well-defined CX strategy is a foundational, best-practice capability of customer experience leaders.
Six common customer experience strategy pitfalls
Even if an organisation has built a robust strategy designed to accomplish everything it needs to, there are still several challenges to overcome. This isn’t surprising, given that any shift towards greater customer-centricity requires some degree of organisational change. For some, the change is modest. For some, transformational. For others, it’s just really hard.
In our work with organisations of all sizes (from the Fortune 100 to mid-market leaders) and across industries (from insurance and technology to retail and banking) we’ve seen a number of common challenges that these companies have had in operationalising their customer experience strategies.
The biggest “blockers” occur when companies don’t…
- Socialise the CX strategy broadly, across the organisation. Customer experience is a team sport. This means it isn’t managed or controlled ‘just’ by marketing. Or operations. Or IT. It means that every part of the organisation needs to understand the strategy, their role, and the dependencies across the org to enable it.
- Define what the implications are at the role and employee level. Beyond departmental or functional understanding, each employee needs to know their role, what their responsibilities are, and how they are empowered to deliver on the strategy. After all, if your people don’t know what they need to do, they simply can’t do it.
- Assign a CX leader to ensure socialisation and adoption. One of our clients at a Fortune 100 retailer put this best: “If everyone’s in charge of CX, no one’s in charge of CX.” Though everyone in your company has a role, the ability to orchestrate and influence CX across an organisation requires executive-level CX leadership to drive it.
- Make CX strategy a cross-org lens for planning and decision-making. From supporting the delivery of the multichannel experiences your customers demand to deciding where to focus resources, your CX strategy needs to be well understood across the enterprise, and consistently used as a lens for planning and decision making.
- Filter product, service and CX design through the lens of CX strategy. Customer experience design and innovation are core disciplines of CX leaders. But without the ‘north star’ of customer experience strategy to inform design frameworks and guide design efforts, it’s difficult to stay focused on building strategically relevant experiences.
- Measure how well the organisation is delivering against the CX strategy. Have you noticed that CX leaders are also Voice of the Customer leaders? This isn’t a coincidence (think QVC, Apple or Zappos). That’s because understanding from your customers’ perspective how well you’re delivering on your strategies is the only way to truly ensure you are.
How customer experience leaders leverage customer experience strategy to win
CX leaders ensure that their customer experience strategies do four things very well. First, they align to their business and brand strategies. Second, they articulate their strategies, defining the customer experiences they plan to deliver, and to whom.
Third, they guide how their people behave, and how their systems, processes and activities enable them to deliver the experiences they wish. Fourth, and critically, their customer experience strategies inform the prioritization and use of resources, guiding the allocation of the resources to design and deliver the intended experience.
These companies recognise that it’s hard to be customer-centric without a plan - a defined strategy - to guide it.
To build yours, engage broadly and collaborate with leaders and stakeholders across your organisation. Be clear about who you wish to serve and the types of experiences you plan to deliver. And be sure to avoid the common pitfalls other organizations have fallen into.
About Michael Hinshaw
Michael Hinshaw is President / CEO of McorpCX, a customer experience research, brand and strategy consultancy based in the San Francisco area. An innovative executive, consultant and educator, he has over 20 years’ experience in marketing, brand and management consulting. His perspectives on creativity and business performance measurement have been honed through the lenses of brand, touchpoint and customer experience mapping. For more information, view his blog on Customer Experience, or follow Michael on Twitter.