How to Build a Customer Experience Strategy
By Megan Wells
A customer experience strategy is your way of delivering the best possible experience to your customers across all your channels of interaction. Your strategy influences the tone of interactions with your brand, and therefore their perception of your company. Your CX strategy impacts everything from the display ads your customers see to their day-to-day usage of the product.
Each customer will have a different experience of your brand depending on their level of involvement, but making every touchpoint a high-quality interaction should be your goal. Luckily, with the right data, focus, and a little ingenuity, you can anticipate customer expectations and dare to exceed them.
Why focus on customer experience (CX)?
Remember Maya Angelou’s famous quote: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you can apply this sentiment to your CX strategy, you can expect to see genuine innovation as the result of your empathy.
Customer experience has become a differentiating factor for many businesses from retail to B2B tech. A decade-long research study conducted by Watermark Consulting consistently found that companies that lead in customer experience (based on consumer surveys) outperform the market in sales. In addition, B2B SaaS companies actively working on their CX strategy report more than a 2x return on their investment in terms of revenue growth. To see how companies like Slack, Sephora, and Comcast used exceptional CX strategies to impact long-term company growth, click here.
Now that we know improving customer experience can bring your company to the top of its game, let’s dive into how to bring your customer experience strategy to life.
Want to learn more? Check out this comprehensive guide for improving customer experience at your organization today!
Building a customer experience strategy
1. Where to start: Have a clear customer experience vision
Getting started on your CX strategy journey requires that you go back to your roots as a company. What’s your company all about? Why do employees want to build your products and why should customers be inspired to buy from you? After all, if you’re not inspired, why should your customers be?
Ground your company mission in action with a customer experience vision statement. This statement should set a clear goal post for employees in each function to move towards and help them imagine what you want to achieve together with your customers. This statement can’t be created in a vacuum and will require key stakeholder buy-in from the very top (see below). You can draw inspiration from many examples, but here are some of our favorites:
- Nordstrom: To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.
- Tesla: To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.
- JetBlue: To inspire humanity--both in the air and on the ground.
2. Get internal stakeholders on board
A great CX strategy requires a shift towards a customer-centric mindset. Getting clear on how your customer experience vision drives behavior and KPIs across departments will require buy-in at every level of the company.
Start by identifying areas of key importance that touch the customer experience such as marketing, customer support, product management, or retail staff.
Showing how CX can positively impact all areas of the company can start in a number of ways:
- Ask leadership in these functional areas: “what are some of our biggest problems we face today?” Show them how a CX focus can help with larger market research results.
- Ask other department heads what their main frustrations are. Collect data on where things have gone south with customer relationships and ask “if we never made this mistake again, what would that mean for your department?”
- Provide examples of customer interactions done right and offer examples of how to replicate those experiences.
Asking questions and generating enthusiasm for solving the big problems can get the right teams together to make progress on your CX vision.
3. Get to know your customers
Creating a customer-centric culture means enabling your teams to connect with the people you’re trying to reach every day.
Creating a full picture of your customer is a constantly evolving process - people, your product, and the market will shift many times over the years. Making customer information useful to your strategy means grounding data in a few key deliverables:
4. Create empathy with customer personas
The first step in getting stakeholders to understand the people your company serves is by creating customer personas.
Bringing your customer to life for internal teams means creating an example human profile. This could look like a document that paints a picture of your customer’s demographic information, pain points, preferences, needs, and personality.
This will require dedicated internal and external research, and there are a number of different methodologies and research firms specialized in conducting these analyses. You can always start by asking questions about your key customers or contacts you may be trying to reach.
Using your research findings, you can create an example customer that may be motivated to try your new software product. Give them a name and some identifying information to help bring them to life.
For example, Solver Sam:
- Age & gender: 35-year-old man
- Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
- Role: Product manager
- Motivators: solving complex problems, new technology
- Hobbies/preferences: hiking, playing Call of Duty, and trying new craft beer on the weekends
Personas allow your teams to relate to customers on a human level and can serve as a foundation for anything from marketing campaigns to new product design.
5. Chart the path to purchase with customer journey mapping
Here’s where the rubber meets the road in your CX strategy. Creating a map of where your product connects to your current and potential customers is an essential step in creating your strategy and charting a path forward. Rather than individual touchpoints, McKinsey research suggests that the entire journey a customer takes to purchase is a better indicator of business goals.
For examples and key questions to ask, we’ve created a post that walks you through your customer journey mapping process here.
6. Putting it all together: creating your CX strategy
Pooling your research findings and taking stock of all the areas you reach your customers may begin to reveal trends and ideas of how you can best satisfy your customers. After presenting your findings, get your key stakeholders together to start brainstorming the following:
- Based on what we know today, what does an ideal CX at our company look like?
- What is the current state of our customer experience? In what areas can we improve?
- What are the root causes of existing issues in our customer experience? What data do we need to find these answers?
This will take several sessions and a great behavioral analytics platform to answer your most pressing questions. Once you’ve gathered the pieces together, you can begin to map out some hypotheses and measurement plans for your future state.
You can structure the next step in the process by asking:
- What new behavior/experience are we proposing?
- What need or pain point are we trying to solve?
- What KPI will help us measure if we’re successful in satisfying this customer need?
Essential for your next steps are honest answers to the following questions:
- What data is still needed to best measure our success?
- What questions will we need to continuously answer? And how quickly can we answer them?
How a continuous intelligence platform can improve CX strategy
From here, a continuous intelligence platform can help you measure your strategy’s success and isolate areas for improvement. You can use the growth and engagement metrics you have aggregated, and start asking specific questions about your data, like:
- Where do my customers drop off, and most frequently?
- Are there particular features of my product that customers use most often?
Rather than going to your data science team for answers on how well your hypotheses are performing (or may need to change), a platform like Scuba Analytics can map your journey with findings from multiple channels on the fly, without code.
1. Measuring customer experience strategy success
You have your new strategy and intelligence platform in place, but making sure you’re delivering a great customer experience means regularly asking for (and listening to) feedback. There’s no one size fits all approach to measuring your customer experience success, but here are a few best practices:
2. Launch and measure customer experience survey results
There are many customer experience surveys to choose from, but these 5 types of CX surveys are the go-to for analyzing and collecting customer data:
- NPS or Net Promoter Score
- CSAT or customer satisfaction score
- CES or customer effort score
- Customer retention survey
If you already have surveys in place, take a benchmark of where you are today, and brainstorm ways to improve those ratings over a set period of time.
3. Assess key growth metrics
While certain metrics like churn rate and annual revenue per user won’t always be directly indicative of your customer experience strategy, trends in these areas can inform and help improve your focus going forward. Retention rate dropping? This can open up a discussion of whether it’s a product functionality or customer experience issue.
Tying these metrics to more granular KPIs along the way will yield a more powerful CX strategy.
Get qualitative data by calling your customers
Sometimes a simple phone call with a real human being can shed surprising insight into how your CX strategy is landing. Make sure your customer support teams can pool anecdotal information. Encourage product managers to seek out key customers and make time for open-ended discussions.
Connecting with customers beyond just the numbers can spark new ideas that your existing data can’t always reach. A conversation can reveal where each department makes a difference to a customer, and stories of triumph can give teams the boost they need to continue innovating.
Building a cohesive customer experience strategy is no easy task, but creating a CX vision for the future that’s grounded in data and flexibility sets your stage for solid, long-term growth.
Delighting customers is rewarding in many ways beyond just profits and investing in CX fuels further innovation and sustained employee satisfaction. Plus, if elements of your strategy fail, you will grow and learn. What do you have to lose?
Looking to measure your end-to-end customer experience strategy, fast? Learn how Scuba can give you 360-degree visibility into your customer journey--through a single pane of glass.
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