Today, the key to retaining customers and beating the competition is delivering consistently extraordinary customer experiences. But, outstanding customer experiences are not happy accidents. They require getting to know your customers, creating personalized interactions, and being innovative. That’s where your customer experience strategy comes in. Only when you have a solid customer experience strategy in place will you be able to set your brand apart.
Brands are realizing the value of customer experience. In fact, according to SuperOffice, companies continue to list customer experience as the single-most exciting opportunity in the upcoming year. These companies understand that successfully implementing a carefully crafted customer experience strategy is the key to increased customer satisfaction, decreased customer churn, and higher revenues. But, there is a disconnect between the experiences companies deliver and the experiences customers get: 80% of companies believe they deliver a superior experience, while only 8% of customers report having a great experience. Yet, American Express finds that 68% of customers claim they will pay more for a better experience.
Obviously, companies need to get their customer experience strategy right, and do it fast. That’s where our customer experience strategy best practices come in. We have rounded up CX strategy suggestions from leading companies and marketers and offer them here to inspire you to improve your customer experience:
- Create a Customer-Centric Culture
- Create Personalized Interactions
- Map the Customer Journey and Build to Customer Experience Mapping
Take a look at each of the customer experience strategy best practices below.
1. Create a Customer-Centric Culture
You cannot prioritize customer experiences and design a successful CX strategy without putting the customer first. But, it’s one thing to say that you focus on the customer and quite another to become customer-centric. The C-suite must work to create a customer-centric culture throughout the organization, and everyone must understand the value of the customer experience. It helps to put everyone in the customers’ shoes. The outside-in approach is the only way to shift focus from the brand and products to the customer.
CustomerThink recommends seven ways to create a customer-centric culture:
- Make the customer experience a priority for the entire company
- Embed a customer experience framework
- Experience your customer and employee journeys
- Engage your people in an improvement activity
- Align customer experience with the business strategy
- Communicate the importance of CX and the work being done within the organization to promote it
- Strive to achieve recognition for your CX work and build your authority as a CX leader
Keep in mind that simply creating a customer-centric culture is not enough if you want to create a successful CX strategy. You need to make your efforts sustainable and consistently work to evaluate your company culture to make changes as needed.
2. Create Personalized Interactions
Of course, personalization starts with knowing your customers, and knowing them well. So, technically, our first best practice is using an innovative customer data platform to listen to customers, gather data from all of your interactions with them, and learn from their behavior to get a complete picture. Then, you can target their unique interests and meet their demands. In fact, customer service and experience expert Shep Hyken points out that research proves customers expect custom-tailored service and highly personalized experiences. Companies that don’t deliver these personalized experiences suffer: “On average, 7% expressed some level of frustration when their experience was impersonal.”
Shep also highlights some key benefits of using personalization as part of your customer experience strategy. He points to a Segment survey of 1,000 consumers that found the majority of them are unhappy with the lack of personalization in their shopping experiences:
- 49% of customers purchase items they don’t intend to buy when they receive a personalized recommendation from the brand they were doing business with
- 49% of U.S. consumers have purchased a more expensive item than they planned to, simply because of personalized service
- Personalization leads to fewer returns and happier impulse buyers
- 49% of consumers plan to be a repeat customer because of a personalized shopping experience
3. Map the Customer Journey and Build to Customer Experience Mapping
How do you go about personalizing the customer experience? You start by mapping your customer journey because these maps show gaps between customer expectations and the actual experience at key stages of the journey. At the very least, customer journey maps should contain the context, a persona, outcomes, and touchpoints.
Companies new to customer journey mapping should carefully define their objectives. With clear objectives in mind, you are much more likely to define a path to get to them. It’s also helpful to include executives in the process of defining objectives and engaging them in the process. Then, define the scope of the project by identifying the processes and specific customers that will be targeted in the journey mapping process. It is better to complete customer journey mapping for each key customer segment.
Once you master customer journey mapping, move on to customer experience mapping. Customer experience maps deliver key insights to help you streamline your customer experience strategy. These maps go one step further by “examining the complete picture of the customer experience with a brand, analyzing behavior and interactions across touchpoints and channels.” These maps deliver an understanding of the process each customer segment undergoes when interacting with your brand and show potential interactions throughout the whole buying journey. Experience maps are a must for determining why customers don’t have the best possible experience, especially when you are not sure where the disconnect is happening.
Customer experience strategy is the difference between increasing revenue with loyal customers and losing out to the competition because you don’t meet customer expectations. To get your customer experience right and close the gap between customer perceptions and experience, you need to craft a successful CX strategy. Start by creating a customer-centric culture, personalized interactions, and customer journey and customer experience maps.