Brands are designing a sensory experience that not only builds lasting relationships, but impacts the bottom line.
As a brand, you set the overall context of a customer’s experience: your product or service, messaging, and interactions at the sale and post-sale stage. But the perception of how those touch points are experienced belong to the customer – and with the rise in social media sharing, it’s critical that brands invest in new technology and ways of working in order to control their narrative.
In fact, studies show that customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Companies that focus on developing a customer experience strategy reduce churn and increase satisfaction and revenues – leading to higher long-term profits. By improving CX, organizations can:
- Drive revenue and customer lifetime value
- Increase brand value
- Boost customer loyalty and advocacy
- Keep close to customers and changing behaviors
- Reduce costs and invest in the right things
Developing a customer experience strategy starts with research
While companies understand the importance of customer experience, many don’t know how to make improvements. The first step for effective CX strategy design is performing customer experience research. How can you design a customer experience if you don’t know who your customers are? To prepare for customer experience design, begin with:
- Customer personas: Define 1-5 personas of your customer base, so you can better understand the psyche of your customers and build experiences for your most valuable segments
- Empathy mapping: Develop an empathy map to better understand what customers may think, feel, say, and do as a result of their beliefs, emotions, and behaviors
- Stakeholder mapping: Identify and map stakeholders into four quadrants – supporters, champions, gatekeepers, and bystanders – to determine the best engagement strategy
Once you fully understand the customer and stakeholders, you’re ready to start mapping out the customer journey. Think of it as your guide to customer experience. This includes identifying key moments of truth— moments of consumer brand interaction that shape brand perception and loyalty.
This is when you get into the customer’s mind as they’re interacting with your product/service across all points of customer interaction. As we become increasingly digital, many of these key moments of truth are happening online.
How develop a customer experience strategy: Understand the digital moments
Within digital, mobile specifically is an inherent part of today’s digital experience, and for many consumers, is the preferred means of product research, purchase, and support.
It’s abundantly clear that these digital moments, across platforms (mobile, tablet, or desktop) are shaping essential KPIs about customer expectations that will ultimately inform the path to purchase, as well as retention. That means a mobile-first mindset as part of your CX program design and management is more important than ever.
Many organizations look at the digital experience as a singular event, when really the digital experience itself consists of many different customer-facing journeys that determine if the overall customer experience was positive.
For example, was a consumer coming to buy something that caused the positive interaction, or do they need support? Did the brand interaction inform the purchase decision at that moment, or was the visitor simply conducting their own competitive comparison or price shopping exercise?
Understanding these individual points of interaction helps companies develop CX strategies to better reach customers and provide personalized experiences.
Brands need to adopt these 7 key principles around customer data management to help define their overall data strategy and goals.
Map the customer journey
You can’t improve what you don’t understand. So, the way to reach customers is to understand each step of the customer journey. Often businesses deliver well on some components of that journey, but without a customer-centric view, they may fail at other distinct points.
Viewing the journey – not just the touch points – helps to frame the experience from the customer’s perspective.
Customer journey mapping visually illustrates customers’ processes, needs and perceptions throughout their interaction and relationship with your brand. All customer journeys fall into one of four categories – onboarding, maintaining, using/owning, and renewal. You can look at one customer going through journeys across all four categories, or how different customers go through a single journey.
A customer journey map includes all of the touchpoints a potential customer has before, during, and after an interaction with your brand.
Business is about buying things, selling things, and engaging with customers. CX is about providing experiences that make people want to engage with you, buy from you, and buy again.
Bake in customer centricity
Ultimately, the purpose of your customer experience strategy is to bring in a personal touch. Once you collect feedback from every meaningful customer interaction, you’ll be able to spot pain points along the way, identify areas where you could improve the experience, and anticipate their needs.
Understanding what elements are important to your customers helps to prioritize communication, action, and investment. Customer experience management software allows companies to predict, deliver, measure, and respond specifically to customer needs to improve the customer relationship and impact key business outcomes such as customer lifetime value, acquisition, and retention.
By creating a single system of record for all customer data, organizations can better manage the core experiences consumers have with the business. You can break out of your silos and embed a customer-centric focus throughout the entire organization. Anyone can see the results and respond based on actionable insights for their area of expertise – marketing, product development, customer service, etc.
That alignment – typically derived from key drivers – helps to keep the business focused and KPIs relevant.