Customer Experience begins with a clear strategy


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Do you have a clear direction?

Asked differently: If I ask three members of your team to give me your customer experience strategy, will I get the same answer? If the answer is yes, you have an unusual level of clarify – congratulations! If not…

Fifteen years ago I was tasked to create a new business practice at ExecuTrain – providing training to IT professionals. I laid out a clear strategy, telling my team how we were going to be first to market to beat the competition by offering classes that they didn’t yet have. My team was excited about the opportunity. That is, until that evening at our all staff meeting. That’s when our CEO introduced our program to the company and told the staff that our strategy was to be fast followers. We would let the competition try all the new classes, and we’d follow up with those that were successful.

Clearly, the team was confused. Which was it? In this case, they had two different leaders with opposite directions. Which was correct? It’s like they were in a boat with kids that each tried to go in a different direction. And we went nowhere fast!

But while opposite directions can clearly kill you, what about having too many directions? I remember attending a non-profit’s national conference. We had the opportunity to hear the President’s speech laying out our new strategy – how we were going to grow our impact globally. There was a big build-up all day long, and we were excited to hear the speech. The Chair of the Board pumped us up before introducing the President to lay out the strategy.

He got on stage and then proceeded to walk through the twenty initiatives the organization planned for the following year.

You could just feel the energy escape from the room. 20 items aren’t a strategy – it’s a To-Do List! And how excited do people get about discussing your To-Do List?

Compare this to a VP of Caterpillar I heard speak once. He discussed coming to a new division. He met with the leadership team to review their strategy. It was another 20-item list! After 45 minutes walking through the list he stopped them and asked, “when my wife calls me on my way home asking me to pick up groceries, how many items can I remember before I have to write them down? Three. How can we expect people to rally around a list? We need to pare down the list to three things we’re going to get right.”

Which is your customer experience strategy? Three clear items, or a to-do list?

The implications to your staff are clear. Modern Surveys tells us that the two items most correlated with employee engagement are:

  1. I have confidence in the future of my company
  2. My company is headed in the right direction
The only way to say yes is to understand the direction. Gallup concurs. They find the top driver is “I know what’s expected of me at work.” This requires taking the strategy to an even clearer level of certainty – not only what is the strategy, but what does it mean to me?

You don’t have to be the CEO to have a clear strategy. When I worked at Best Buy the company was focused on winning the home theater. That was great, except I wasn’t on the home theater team. Our Senior Director did a great job of outlining a clear strategy. We would focus on:

  • Execution
  • Evaluation
  • Efficiency

Every meeting began with a discussion of these three items, and how we were impacting each. Every employee was given clear direction on how they affect the three strategies. And not only were our employee engagement scores high, so was our impact.

Start with a self-check – can you remember your customer experience strategy without having to pause and think? Next, take aside three team members and ask them to articulate it.

Then go back to the drawing board. People can’t implement your strategy if they can’t remember it. What are you doing to help your team understand your customer experience strategy?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Tincher
Jim sees the world in a special way: through the eyes of customers. This lifelong passion for CX, and a thirst for knowledge, led him to found his customer experience consulting firm, Heart of the Customer (HoC). HoC sets the bar for best practices and are emulated throughout the industry. He is the author of Do B2B Better and co-author of How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer?, and he also writes Heart of the Customer’s popular CX blog.


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