In today’s business landscape, the explosion of social media and digital technologies has changed the game for companies looking to connect and build relationships with customers. Armed with a goldmine of customer data (shopping and purchase behavior, likes, tweets, posts, shares, etc.), brands can leverage these insights to develop an understanding of when, what, why, and how customers want to make purchases.
But what does all of this mean for companies?
With customers expecting personalized and consistent experiences across channels, creating a powerful customer experience strategy isn’t just important – it’s essential. Logic tells us that brands that offer a superior experience will enjoy increased customer loyalty, repeat purchases, and higher levels of customer advocacy. The challenge, as 1to1 Media notes, is “developing a CX strategy that crosses all customer channels and distinguishes one’s brand from the competition.”
Here are a few best practices for creating the right foundation for a CX strategy across channels:
- Consistency is key: Developing an omni-channel approach to customer service can be the first step in providing an exceptional customer experience. But don’t assume this is a be-all end-all solution. In fact, business2community claims “When you put yourself into your customers’ shoes and examine the problems in your customer service strategy, you will start to see how many of your customer complaints stem from breakdowns in the omni-channel experience.”
So how can you ensure your omni-channel strategy is working for instead of against you? Let’s say you have empirical evidence (in the form of survey comments or satisfaction scores) that customers are experiencing long wait times when getting shuffled between channels (tweet, email, live chat, in person, etc.). Instead of dwelling on one of the most common customer frustrations, use this information to infer that customers want a seamless (and prompt) transition between channels. Business2community sums this point up nicely: “It should feel like the conversation is simply being continued.”
- Clear buy-in across all functions: As I discussed with fellow CX-er and friend Roberta O’Keith, LEAN Six Sigma Master Black Belt, a powerful customer experience strategy requires having a company culture that is CX-focused. In other words, all functions (operations, marketing, accounting) must be aligned on key measures and KPIs to determine both where you’re starting from and measure the progress you’re making with your goals. It’s also critical to have the leadership team fully engaged in strategy to inspire employees across the organization to take on their role in the customer experience.
Whether this role is directly with customers, or providing organizational support that allows great customer experiences to be created, all employees need to be on the omni-channel CX improvement journey. Front-line employees in particular play a pivotal role in the process. Given their position interacting directly with cusotmers, this group of employees have the opportunity to personally engage with customers, nurturing relationships that may ultimately result in brand advocacy. Keller Fay Group research shows that 25 billion brand conversations occur every year in social media, so it’s important to engage employees in ways that will make them want to influence how customers feel about your brand, product, or service.
- Map out the customer journey: I mentioned above the importance of putting yourself in your customers’ shoes but what, exactly, does this entail? Essentially, it means taking the same journey that your customers take with your organization in order to facilitate the best customer experience possible.
As 1to1 Media outlines in their CX journey mapping toolkit, you can achieve this perspective with journey mapping, which helps you understand what it’s like for your customers to interact with your business. This is particularly important when considering how to best offer customers a seamless transition between channels. By mapping out the customer journey, you can identify your customer highs and lows. Then you can create a plan of attack for addressing these moments of truth to ease these pain points and turn them into opportunities that delight customers in ways your competitors cannot.
As Roberta and I discussed in our interview about creating a powerful CX strategy, there is a so-called “golden rule” for customer experience: Treat others the way you would want to be treated. When thinking about how to create a customer experience across channels, it’s important to keep this in mind. Here’s another way of thinking about it: What kind of customer experience would you rave about to your friends and family? Watch the full interview here.