Wondering why you need to create a customer experience strategy?
According to a recent report by the XM Institute, eighty-one percent of companies expect to focus more on customer experience next year than they did last year. But almost half (45 percent) say the lack of a clear customer experience (CX) strategy is a major hurdle.
There are many reasons why lack of strategy can happen.
Creating a CX strategy is indeed hard work that requires leadership, coordination, tenacity, and some technical know-how. But if you have some idea about where you can start, then “lack of customer experience strategy” doesn’t have to be a hurdle.
Some practical, basic steps to get you going in the right direction include laying the groundwork, creating alignment, and managing performance.
How to create a customer experience strategy in 3 phases
1. Lay the groundwork
First, you’ll need to lay the groundwork for the development of your company’s CX strategy. Include these to-dos in your work:
- Establish a CX strategy steering team. Your steering team should include customer-minded people from across the organization: senior leaders, middle managers, front line workers, advisors, and, if you can get them—customers themselves. With facilitation, the steering committee should identify and agree upon your company’s one, overarching CX strategy.
- Draft a project charter. Things get real when you commit your plans to action, so create a project charter. Include the names of the members of the steering committee, the committee’s overarching objective, the scope of team member responsibilities, how long the development of the CX strategy should take, and a schedule for completing the preliminary work. Share the project charter with the steering team as a way of managing expectations.
- Review the organization’s foundational documents and important artifacts. These artifacts might include strategic plans, mission statements, vision statements, previously established core values, and business plans. Government agencies should look at agency authorization legislation, Congressional mandates, and charters. Other artifacts might include employee attrition and customer satisfaction reports. The idea is to understand and balance your organization’s current business state with where you decide to take your CX strategy.
- Develop goals and relevant measures that will signal whether you’ve been successful in pursuing your CX strategy. With your steering committee, write down the intended customer outcomes, targets, timeframes, measures, and rationale for the goals and measures you choose. Reconcile those with what you know customers value most. Successful CX strategy is about more than great sales numbers, so consider an array of goals and performance measures. Measures clarify the intent of your goals, so choose wisely.
2. Align the organization
After the groundwork phase, it’s time to align the organization. Many organizations spend a lot of time and resources on creating CX strategy, goals, measures, and metrics. Then, they post the strategy on a company intranet site and believe the work is done.
But really, this is just the beginning. To truly create a customer experience strategy, it’s now time to communicate the strategy, supporting goals, and performance metrics and measurements. A well-planned, constant flow of communication on the organizational and operating unit level is everything.
Take every opportunity to socialize the CX strategy along with goals, performance measures, and the behaviors it will take to pursue the strategy.
Here are some examples of when and where to communicate and/or host trainings:
- Town hall meetings or briefings
- Company intranet site or Slack channels
- Internal blogs or webinars
- Management offsite meetings
- Staff, department, and team meetings
- E-mails, hallway posters, voice mails
- Annual reports
To stay organized, you’ll want to create a written communication plan and track your activities over time. Operating units will need to develop their own action plans that support the CX strategy.
One suggestion is to get creative in how and where you communicate CX strategy.. I once worked with a company that placed palm-sized, brightly colored trinkets with customer values spelled out on them on the tables in conference rooms. The trinkets on the table served as a constant reminder to everyone in the room: customers are the reason you have the privilege of even being in the room.
3. Manage and monitor performance
This is where things can really start to come together for your organization’s CX strategy. When you manage and monitor your organization’s performance to its goals, then you have an opportunity to open conversations throughout your organization that can further the customer agenda. This is where CX governance frameworks come into play.
Assign owners for each goal and measure for your CX strategy. Alternatively, create a team that oversees and manages all aspects of your organization’s performance toward its CX strategy and goals. The team should meet regularly to review progress and data, clear paths for improvements, and support the business case for funding improvements when needed.
Through every phase of your CX strategy development and execution, don’t forget to recognize people’s contributions. Reward and celebrate victories along the way. Follow the major steps outlined here, talk to other experienced CX practitioners, read the work of credentialed thought leaders, and browse other business resources on general strategy building.
You’ll never know how good your CX strategy is until you act.