Designing a business model and a development strategy to engage, charm, satisfy and retain customers goes without saying, but it’s not always easy to stay vigilant and reactive to how customer expectations are evolving and maintain a coherent, holistic strategy for a distinctive customer experience.
How to develop a customer experience strategy
There are three crucial questions that must be answered in developing a customer experience strategy:
1. Where are you now?
2. Where are you going?
3. How are you going to get there?
Where are you now?
This very simple question may require a good deal of work to answer. You must have a detailed knowledge of what customers think of your current customer experience. You must be able to analyse this by different customer segments. You need to know how you stand versus the competition and what aspects of your customer experience are improving and what, if anything, is getting worse.
Customers’ views are critical of course. So too you should understand those of your workforce as they most certainly will impact upon the customer experience. What do they think you do well and what do they think needs improving?
Where are you going?
A customer experience strategy requires a vision as to what you would like your customer experience to be. This should align with your customer experience “brand” and not be pie in the sky. The vision must be grounded in both a timeline and specific measures. Whatever your ambitions, you will need to track them to ensure that they are being achieved.
How are you going to get there?
In many respects the answer to this question is the most interesting. It is all about implementation. How do you deliver brilliant customer experience? We talk about this regularly on our blog but it is worth summarising here.
Fundamentals are important. Remember the key things that people look for from great customer experience – simplicity and ease of doing business. Technology is a great facilitator of speed and efficiency. It will also be important to have channel flexibility as people want to be able to do business with you across all channels.
Don’t forget people like doing business with people. This means being able to cater for individual needs, personalising your offer, and building relationships which nearly always are stronger if they involve a warm blooded person somewhere along the line.
Some aspects of your customer experience strategy may have little cost. A smile costs nothing. However, the training and the motivation that is required to ensure that the people on the service desk keep smiling all day will have a cost. The technology that checks the stock, picks the product, and delivers it seamlessly and on time will cost money. Delivering a great customer experience strategy does require investment.
It is here that many customer experience strategies fall apart. Many bosses believe that customer experience can be achieved by simply waving a magic wand. The key will be to demonstrate the return on investment from the strategy. A customer satisfaction improvement of just one per cent per year over five years will increase the profitability of a company by 11.5% over that period (this according to Eugene Anderson, Claes Fornell and Donald Lehmann – Customer Satisfaction, Market Share And Profitability: Findings From Sweden, Journal of marketing, 58, 1994). This long established study confirms the payback from a great customer experience strategy so be sure to reference it and make sure your program gets the investment it deserves.