The only true competitive advantage for brands is their customer experience. As a result, more and more companies – both large and small – are slowly getting on board with the need to design and deliver a great customer experience in order to support and sustain their growth initiatives. But developing a strategy to deliver that great experience isn’t as simple as deciding you’re going to do it. A lot of work goes into that commitment.
Once you’ve got executive commitment, there are five major building blocks that you must have in order to develop a winning customer experience strategy. (There are more than five, but for the purposes of this post, let’s just focus on these five.) These are foundational elements that must be in place in order for your strategy to be successful.
- Customer Experience vision
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you arrive? Your customer experience vision is an inspirational and aspirational statement that outlines the intended experience of the future. It describes the experience you plan to deliver and serves as a guide to help choose future courses of action. A Customer Experience vision aligns with the corporate vision, or, better yet, they may be one and the same.
- Culture: values, mission, vision, purpose, brand promise
Culture = values + behavior. That’s an important formula to remember. Make sure that your values are not only defined but communicated to employees on a regular basis. You’ll also want to define associated behaviors and desired outcomes as a result, for each value. And you must commit to hiring, firing, and promoting employees based on your core values. In addition to core values, it’s important to define and communicate your mission, vision, purpose, and brand promise, which is the expectations you set with your customers about the benefits they can expect to receive when experiencing your brand – at every touchpoint.
- Employee experience
There is a clear linkage between the employee experience and the customer experience. We know this, and yet many companies still refuse to make the employee experience a priority, focusing instead on shareholder value, the bottom line, or customer experience without considering the implications of a poor employee experience to all of the above. When employees have a great experience (no, that doesn’t mean ping pong tables and beer Fridays), they are happier and more productive, and they deliver a better customer experience.
- Customer understanding
Any improvements that you make to the customer experience must be grounded in data, insights, and customer understanding. You must put the “customer” into customer experience. There are three primary ways to do that: listen (identify and measure customer perceptions of the experience today via surveys, online reviews, and other listening posts), characterize (get a deep understanding of who your customers are by developing personas and overlaying them with empathy maps), and empathize (walk in your customers’ shoes and understand the experience today through journey mapping). By the way, these same understanding methods should also be applied to designing and delivering a great employee experience.
- Governance structure
Critical to the success of your Customer Experience transformation is a governance structure, which ensures a lot of things, not the least of which is cross-functional commitment and involvement to execute the best Customer Experience strategy. What is governance? It refers to the governing body and policies to ensure that the work that needs to get done, well, gets done. It includes monitoring and accountability to ensure that happens. In a nutshell, governance is about both oversight and execution. This is an important foundation for your customer experience management strategy.
Get these five building blocks into place, and you’re guaranteed a solid foundation for building the best customer experience strategy. Which of these five do you have already? Which ones are in progress?