I was approached recently at a conference and asked “what are the key pieces of advice you would give a business when embarking on a customer experience strategy?”
The quick answer would be “start with the customer”. Whilst we’d advocate this as a principal thought within a programme it actually doesn’t work when it comes to running customer experience programmes.
So I started to think about programmes we have set up and the various successful components that made the difference such as: setting up relationship and transactional NPS programmes; setting customer visions; developing a deeper customer understanding within the business; running strategic improvement games; root cause analysis programmes; aligning customer performance measures to business targets and various other activities. Which would I choose?
But when I thought again, these are all essentials when the programme is being set up or is underway. The question posed was about starting out. This led me to a different shortlist. I thought this was a great question. So I have shared my answer below.
If you follow these will you stand a better chance of succeeding than if you start with the customer? Absolutely. Read on to discover why.
- Ensure those responsible for the customer experience have the right experience too
- If it’s the company that wants to be more customer-centric start with that, not the customer
- Understand the potential and the limits of customer experience early on
- Once you are in, you are all in and you are in for the long haul if you intend to profit
- Short cuts exist, resist. Only short lived programmes use them
1. Ensure those responsible for the customer experience have experience too
One thing we find about customer experience is that until fairly recently 99% of organisations haven’t looked at experience as a discreet discipline. There are fewer customer experience experts than in any other area of marketing. Until recently there wasn’t even a recruitment company set up to cater for the discipline. There is now, cxtalent.
The truth is no-one has been charged with the experience task, teams have been charged with compliance or product or sales or recruitment or store design or food and beverages – all important but only a slice of the much bigger pie which experience impacts.
What is critically needed is a team with representation from the broader business interests. And representing the customer is a trust agent who has played the role before (a CX consultant) to steer through the choppy waters which lie ahead. A wise head with CX programme establishment and engagement experience.
Nothing beats Customer Experience like experience in customer experience.
Importantly, the role includes having the strength and vision to keep the customer woven through everything, like a thread of steel. Even when those around are challenged against a paper thin evidence bank (it is rather scant at the start, even most of the insight is revealed as being built around product or brand rather than customers) and revert to former comfort zones.
Identifying who is best placed to lead customer experience is a critical decision. The first hand up in the board room or team meeting may not be the right person. And the team, it is a team because there’s so much ground to cover, need guidance as there are more sharks than treasure to be found in the customers experience seas.
The question was about starting out so I won’t go into this point, but it’s worse than that. The reality is the best team you can put out to kick off the customer experience strategy will not be the same team you will want to finish the game.
Posted by Christopher Brooks
We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.
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