What is Customer Experience Strategy?
In our last article we talked about the importance of strategic thinking. Today, we build on this topic and walk you through the nuts and bolts of customer experience strategy. Customer experience strategy is often missing in organizations. However, it is foundational for the creation of excellent customer experience.
Understand Business Strategy and Customer Experience Strategy
Before we jump in, note that having clear business strategy is a prerequisite for our conversation today. The easiest way to help understand this relationship is to look at a scenario that includes geographies.
Say your company is planning to shift its client base to Europe or Asia in the next 2-5 years and you do not know that. In this case, you may be mapping a customer experience strategy for the US client, and completely missing the mark on the client expectations and needs in the other continents!
This is why we highly recommend that the customer experience leader reports directly to the CEO. This enables the customer experience program to support a sustainable organization’s growth.
Understand Customer Experience Strategy
Three features of customer experience strategy help to put it into context with your overall business strategy. Think of customer experience strategy as a tool that guides your business to customer-centricity.
In this context, remember that, because it is strategic, in order to be effective, it must touch the organization at every level. In order to do so, it must connect to your organization’s vision. Additionally, it must guide the buildout of capabilities that reach customers. Importantly, an effective customer experience strategy must function as a framework for executive alignment. Without this piece, it is impossible to sustain a strategy to build the customer-centric experiences that define organizational success.
- Blueprint to communicate your vision to your organization
- Roadmap to build capabilities to meet customers across channels
- Framework for executive alignment
Communicate Your Vision
At its core, customer experience strategy is the blueprint for how to envision your ideal customer experience. Of course, building and following this blueprint starts before you build any kind of program that reaches the customer. It starts with every member of your team coming together to understand what you are setting out to do, and how you are aiming to achieve it.
As such, your CX strategy empowers you to communicate your vision to your organization. This enables every member of your team to understand the shared goals of your organization. And to build the experiences that advance those goals.
Guided by the CX strategy, customer experience programs include a roadmap for building capabilities that meet customer needs across channels (for instance, not only on digital channels).
This is not cheap to do. However, it is possible to find funding for customer experience projects from the misaligned products and services you rightly removed from your offerings because they did not align with your customer experience strategy. More, later, on how customer experience strategy helps your organization make the difficult decisions about what products and services to keep, and what to cut.
What is most important to note here, is that building capabilities that meet customers where they are demands specific commitments to customers by leadership and employees. Your customer experience strategy drives these commitments.
Achieve Executive Alignment
Simply put, the customer experience strategy gives your executive team something to align on.
As such, it functions as the unifying piece to connect the executive team and to support the creation of CX programs.
Customer Experience Strategy Does Not Create Experiences
It is important to recognize that, on its own, customer experience strategy does not create great experiences for your customers.
Rather, your teams create experiences through customer experience programs the underlying strategy guides. How? By designing customer experience programs. A properly designed customer experience program acts upon your strategy. Of course, to act effectively, a customer experience program must be funded by leadership and sponsored by your executive team.
This brings us back to the features of customer experience strategy. If the executive team is not aligned with the customer experience strategy, customer experience programs are fragmented at best, and stagnated, at worst.
On the other hand, when CX strategy fuels customer experience programs, your organization has the opportunity to see its vision in action.
Let’s use Microsoft as an example. As a technology leader, its vision statement includes the following objective: “to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.”
In this context, a customer experience strategy could look like the following: “deliver the right services and products, to the right customers at the right time.”
That is a good start. However, by itself, a strategy does not create an experience that delivers the right services and products to the right customers, at the right time. Why? Because, in order to build a customer experience program that aligns with your CX strategy, experience teams must understand who the customer is. Then, they must create the appropriate value propositions from there.
In order to create the actual human-centered experience the vision and strategy call for, all the teams must understand how the steps to creating experiences need to start with the customer, not with the engineering team. With this in place, it becomes possible to build customer experience programs that deliver on your promises. Programs of this type may incorporate customer research projects that make you aware not of your customer needs, but also their aspirations.
Identify Your Customer
To do that, you must truly understand your customer. The first (and most important) step of customer experience strategy design is to identify the right persona of your customer. What does that mean?
Look at the people or businesses who are buying your product. Then, identify those that have the critical mass to support your revenues and growth. This may sound easy, but it is actually quite difficult. Especially if you are a large organization in which politics and interests of certain leaders often influence the decision-making process.
At best, they create a standstill where no decision is achieved. This is actually one of the main reasons why organizations often do not have customer experience strategy. Answering the question of client persona correctly is the first step of mapping the future of your company.
Know Who You Serve
For this example, let’s look at an airline. If an airline’s passenger experience is designed for a “leisure” traveler (someone going on vacation), while the prevalent customer is a business traveler, that airline’s customer satisfaction will go down, despite investments in customer experience.
Every organization has limited funds. And those funds must be prioritized. If this same airline invested in inflight entertainment systems and bag drop experience instead of operational reliability (being on time; taking off) the ROI of that investment would be poor.
Business flights tend to be shorter. Their passengers usually work onboard. Departure times also tend to be earlier. Business travelers need to sleep on the plane and arrive at meetings on time. On those flights, the entertainment system is NOT one of the major customer needs.
Make the Right Investments
Now, if the same airline invested in onboard WiFi, the story changes. Another thing that business travelers do not do is check in bags. So those people may not even UNDERSTAND that there was a new bag drop experience your airline paid for them to enjoy.
This perspective of knowing your customer is just as important for BtoB organizations like ours. Knowing who our customer is took some digging, analysis and trials. First, we started with the really small businesses in the neighborhood.
We quickly learned that we need established businesses with 100M revenues or more in order to have the necessary client infrastructure to make an impact. Does that mean we cannot help smaller businesses? No. Of course we can help them! We just cannot afford to do that for the level of budgets they have.
By the Numbers
Knowing how to make the right investment requires you to know your customers. That starts by understanding what your customers want from their experience.
For instance, to create a future-ready strategy to guide your customer experience design, consider what type of (and how many) channels customers want to use. 78% of customers prefer using different channels, relative to context, according to 2019 data.
A number like this feeds your strategy. With this data, you can build a directive to build seamless, consistent experience.
As a jumping off point, organizations need a context in which to build seamless journeys. Customer experience strategy provides that necessary context. As such, it is a critical step for business survival, particularly for large organizations and iconic brands.
Understand the How
Once you have identified your customers and what they want, it is time to identify their true problems. Not the problem you think your customers have, not the one the media talks about. Your customer’s actual problem. Everyone is facing a challenge.
In the BtoB world, those challenges are even greater. Identify the challenges, then design how you are going to meet them. The “How” is critical. The “How” is your brand. And your brand is an essential piece of your customer experience strategy.
Your brand is your culture and principles that guide your behaviors with the client. Are you selling a self-service, seamless experience or exclusive, guided/curated experience? Is your strength technology or something else? Is your opportunity in the technology space or the people space? Only you know the answer to these questions.
One question you do NOT know the answer to is: “What is my customer’s need and how does he/she like it to be resolved?” Do not make the mistake of thinking that speaking to a few people is the same as conducting customer research.
Make sure you listen to your customers (even if you do not like what you hear). Then design the CX strategy that will make them happy. Not the one that you think will make you happy. Because, let’s face it, they are the ones paying your bills.
Customer Experience Strategy Helps You Make Difficult Choices
In your customer experience program you may also have a consulting engagement that identifies products and services you need to scrap. Yes, I know. This is hard to do. But if products and services no longer fit your strategy, they need to go.
How to Be an Entrepreneur: 5 Things I Learned in 5 Months as an Entrepreneur
The life of an entrepreneur is different every day, but the one thing that remains the same is that we are always learning. These are my lessons in how to…
Customer Experience Audit: Cadillac Scores Millennial Customers with Future-Forward Thinking
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a Customer Experience Audit series. See all the audit stories. The automotive industry is right next to the airline industry in terms of…
Paperless Customer Journey – JetBlue Deviceless Boarding
JetBlue Biometrics – Innovation and Disruption This year, JetBlue entered the ranks of the innovators who disrupt industries by applying customer experience technology. They not only imagine the future. They…
Poor Integration is Bad for Customer Journey and Worse for Brands
Although we all have bad customer experiences, there is still a big debate about “the CX field” and whether it will survive the test of time. There is no doubt…
Customer Experience Audit: New York Times Beats Google
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audits. In this series we walk you through customer experience examples across industries. We feature brands that made…
Aviation Industry, Coronavirus Isn’t the Only Thing Killing Us
Eighteen years ago, September 11th caused a three-day halt of the US commercial airlines and resulted in a 31.6% reduction in travel in September 2001 compared to the previous year….
Customer Experience Audit: Mobile Provider Eliminates Remote Workforce
How to balance the efficiency call center metric FCR (first call resolution) with wait and talk time? JetBlue promotes human interactions as a brand promise.
Digital Customer Experience Strategy – Top Three Mistakes
How many of you have interacted with financial and insurance institutions who seem to have forgotten the invention of the world wide web and applications design? In 2021, Major players…
What is Human-Centered Design and how to Leverage it in 2021?
At its core, design is about value creation. In the world of Customer Experience, value-driven design requires CX professionals to use empathy to imagine a future customer experience that is…
End to End Customer Experience – How to Get it Right
When we think of travel, we often think of the flight experience. But the end to end customer experience is complex, and includes all modes of transportation that get you…
Healthcare Whitepaper: Impact of Patient ‘I Wants’ in Healthcare
Rachel Dreyfus joins The Petrova Experience with a guest blog about patient experience. Background A culture of positive patient experience is increasingly important in Healthcare, affecting patient outcomes and satisfaction….
Customer Experience Plan is More Important than Ever
Last week we published eight Customer Experience Trends to look out for in 2021. Today we are diving deeper into the first one: Customer Experience is more important than ever…
Customer Experience Audit: Starbucks Bets On The Physical Experience
Starbucks is opting in for the physical experience in order to become a lifestyle brand while other brands are investing in omni-channel experience.
A Customer Experience Strategy will Define Your Success in 2021
While there may not be a magic pill to guarantee the perfect customer experience, there is one thing that every organization needs to transform into a customer-centric business. And that…
What is Customer Experience? What are the Faces of CX?
Each area of CX represents a path for CX professionals to impact business health and build successful careers. One of my favorite CX analogies is that it is like the blood in our bodies. When CX is done well, it touches every aspect of an organization. That’s what makes customer experience so much fun! You will never be bored working in CX.
How to talk to your CFO about customer experience and revenue growth
Last month we introduced the topic of Customer Experience ROI and the complexity of building a good business case for it. The Customer Experience business case is strong, but not easy to prove. Today we will focus on two big wins of a successful customer experience investment – revenue and customer growth of your business.
Culture Starts at the Top
Without a leader who believes that today’s business success is about acquiring and retaining customers, you cannot even begin the process of building a culture. Leaders who are passionate about the customer are also passionate about creating culture and employee engagement.
Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments
Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. No Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.
Holiday Wishes for Great CX: Career Advice Edition
Every successful customer experience initiative starts with a skilled CX team. Brush up on your CX skills to strengthen the business case for CX; to develop relationships within your organization; and to deliver standout customer experiences in the new year.
Coronavirus Travel: What Does Hospitality Mean Now?
I want to tell you about my recent passenger experience. Earlier this week, I traveled to New Orleans from JFK Terminal 5 in New York. I had planned an airport…
From Pain Points to Magical Moments: Transform the Customer Experience
Argyle Journal interviewed Liliana Petrova about emerging self service technology and meeting and exceeding customer expectations in airports. One such way, as Liliana explains, is to create magical customer experience…
Lessons Learned at the Forrester Conference: “Data is the New Sexy”
Once a year I look for an event to attend where I can learn something new and get better at what I do. This year, I attended an event hosted…
Customer Experience Tips and Best Practices In 2017?
This is Post 2 of Liliana Petrova’s series on customer experience. She shares customer experience tips, lessons learned, and best practices for the new year. And dives into organizational culture…
How To Define Your Purpose And Have Unique Culture
If you Google the word “purpose” you get the definition “the reason for which something exists.” This is a challenge if you think about it in the context of organizational…
How a Personal Interaction builds Repeat Customers
A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).
Customer Experience Audit: Domino’s Making the Right CX Choices
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audit – as series of articles featuring examples of good customer experience and bad customer experience in practice….
Hospitality Experience and Why We lack Seamless Travel Experiences
Hospitality is taken for granted across government agencies, airlines and hotels. In my line of work, I often hear “I want to have the JetBlue customer experience.” Although many claim…
Airport Experience – Are You Letting Down Your Precious 2021 Travelers?
A month and a half ago, as part of our ongoing conversation about airport experience, we introduced the concept of revenge travel. We pleaded with the public to trust us…
CX Skills Builders: You May Have a CX Job and Not Know It
Last week we talked about the identity crisis of CX professionals and we urged you to fix any small problem or seam on the customer journey in order to build internal brand equity and buy in.
Employee Engagement and Wellness In The Workplace: Guest Post
Today, The Petrova Experience brings you a guest article about employee engagement and organizational culture. This piece is by Natalie DeVito, of Commonwealth Joe. Commonwealth Joe is an innovative company,…
Do You Know Why The Iconic Brand Toys ‘R’ Us Closed Doors Despite All Our Memories? #RetailBlues
The year is 2016. You are the CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us. Your brand still controls 13.6% of the toy market although the company is highly leveraged, a strategy of…
3 Challenges of Hybrid Working and How to Overcome Them
According to a Gallup study, 53% of Americans expect to work in a hybrid arrangement in 2022 and beyond. This number is significant enough for corporate America to get hybrid…
Even the US Government is Jumping on the Customer Experience Train
As we get ready for 2021, we have been diving in to the top customer experience trends we see on the horizon. So far, we have looked at why customer…
2021 Customer Loyalty Strategy – Relationships over Transactions
According to the Salesforce Connected Customer Report, 90% of consumers expect companies to clearly demonstrate their values and 66% expect brands to demonstrate empathy. In other words, when thinking about…
Why you need a defined culture for customer experience?
When designed and built correctly, customer experience expresses an organization’s brand. Your brand and marketing promises serve as a guiding light to your experience team. Similarly, organizational culture serves as a goalpost for the service side of customer experience.
Why CX Design Needs to be in Your Transportation Project RFP
Ever heard this line while working on an RFP? “I know your value, but I don’t know where to put you.” We hear it all the time. Why? Because, historically,…
The Great Re-onboading: How to Bring Back Your Employees
Re-onboarding is the next employee experience organizations need to tackle. Since March 2020, leaders have encountered pandemic shutdowns, remote workforce transitions, and the Great Resignation. As restrictions lift and we…
Liliana Petrova Talks Patient Experience in Healthcare Podcast
Recently, we recorded a podcast on patient experience in healthcare with Stacey Richter. Today, we are excited to share it with you. On the episode, we discuss travel and healthcare…
Why Customer Retention is the True Measure of SaaS Success
Guest Post by Callie Reynolds for The Petrova Experience In SaaS (Software as a Service), like in most businesses, sales is king. Sales gets the glory, and while I’d like…
Would You Pitch In To Save Toys “R” Us For Your Children To Experience? #ToysRUsGoFundMe
Last week we laid out the big moves that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us failed to take to evolve with customer needs and thus joins other brands as examples of…
Organizational Culture and Access to Information
By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet. It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.
Let’s Get You Certified as a Customer Experience Professional!
Like all mature professions, customer experience has a certification that is internationally recognized. Adding it to your resume will signal to the business community that you are serious about customer experience and your aspiration to be part of its leadership ranks…
Customer Experience Trends – 8 Actionable Tactics in 2021
As we begin Q4 of an eventful 2020, it’s time to look out for the 2021 customer experience trends and tactics for creating exceptional experiences in increasingly complex environments. We…