3 steps to creating a great customer experience strategy

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One of the most popular questions in my conversations with decision makers has to be about setting up a successful CX strategy. I always advise them to go way beyond the common sense of “We put the customer at the center of everything we do”. The real answer lies at the intersection between your customers, your employees and the vision that binds everything together. Any solid CX strategy ought to integrate this fundamental 3-step approach:

At the heart of any successful strategy lies a powerful yet tangible vision, and that’s no different with anything CX-related. As stated above, “putting the customer at the center” is not specific enough to be able to enthuse and engage your employees. You need to specify which problem you want to solve for the customer, what you will be able to do to improve their life and which mindset should be connected to that.

Don’t start from a KPI attitude but focus on an intention mentality and make sure you are truly useful and helpful to customers. Not just with your core offering, but just as much with the adjacent services that you offer on top of that.

You probably know that I love the example of Lumi by Pampers. With this brand, Proctor and Gamble was able to push a boring commodity like a diaper onto a whole new level, by adding a smart baby monitor and integrated sleep system for infants into the mix. With this approach, P & G does not just “sell commodity diapers” and it also goes beyond putting “parents at the center of everything it does”. Instead, it is a true partner in the life of parents and “helps the whole family rest easier”, as their website states. So, just like P & G with Lumi, make sure that your vision is both concrete and appealing.

The reason why you need step 1, a concrete and engaging vision, is to get your entire employee force on board with your CX vision. It should not be some top secret for “C-level only” strategy document but needs to resonate throughout your entire organization. Every individual employee should understand how they can personally contribute to a better experience and satisfaction for customers. They have to grasp their part in the bigger story, up to what the exact impact would be if they would perform their task just slightly differently.

In big companies, this link between the vision, the customer and the employee is often buried below processes, KPIs or vague slogans. Factory workers or people in HR often lack that tight connection with the customers, while this is absolutely crucial if a company wants to offer great CX. There is no shortcut to achieve a tight relation between employees, vision and the customer. There’s no secret ingredient. You will have to find a way to literally convince all your employees one by one.

One of my favorite stories of an organization which has every last one of its employees on board with the vision has to be Disney. And the fact that it’s a master storyteller has a very big role to play in that, of course. From the onset, Walt Disney decided that his theme parks would not have any employees but cast members that wear a costume, not a uniform. That made a huge difference for their engagement and behavior. And he made sure that everyone knew their vision and stayed in character. From the actors playing Snow White to the ones selling ice cream or those taking care of garbage management: everyone perfectly knows what their role in the script is and you really feel that deep engagement when your visit their parks as a customer.

Creating a vision, and making sure that every employee knows what their role is to accomplish that vision to help create fantastic customer experiences, are fundamental steps in your CX strategy. But one crucial step that a lot of companies seem to neglect is making sure that employees receive direct feedback from customers.

Employees should feel close to your vision ànd to how customers react to how they, as an individual, helped fill in that vision. If they don’t know what customers think and feel about their work, they won’t be able to adapt what did not work and replicate what did. If you want to offer great CX and keep adapting that to the changing needs of customer, that direct link is essential.

Use quotes, videos, audio fragments or feedback scores, but make sure that everyone knows what customers feels about them. At Coolblue, for instance, every morning, their delivery (wo)men are shown their NPS-scores of the day before. Dutch insurance company Centraal Beheer, then, has the Small Dent Days which they organize 4 times per year: on these days, 10.000 people have the small dents in their car fixed for free while they are warmly welcomed by the insurance agents of CB. It’s the perfect way to create a human relationship and direct feedback with the customers that they otherwise almost never meet in person.

So, I’m curious: what would you add here as advice for creating a great CX strategy? What are the pillars in your organization?

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