In our last article we talked about the importance of strategic thinking. Today, we build on this topic and walk you through the nuts and bolts of customer experience strategy. Customer experience strategy is often missing in organizations. However, it is foundational for the creation of excellent customer experience.
Understand Business Strategy and Customer Experience Strategy
Before we jump in, note that having clear business strategy is a prerequisite for our conversation today. The easiest way to help understand this relationship is to look at a scenario that includes geographies.
Say your company is planning to shift its client base to Europe or Asia in the next 2-5 years and you do not know that. In this case, you may be mapping a customer experience strategy for the US client, and completely missing the mark on the client expectations and needs in the other continents!
This is why we highly recommend that the customer experience leader reports directly to the CEO. This enables the customer experience program to support a sustainable organization’s growth.
Identify Your Customer
The first (and most important) step of customer experience strategy design is to identify the right persona of your customer. What does that mean?
Look at the people or businesses who are buying your product. Then, identify those that have the critical mass to support your revenues and growth. This may sound easy, but it is actually quite difficult. Especially if you are a large organization in which politics and interests of certain leaders often influence the decision-making process.
At best, they create a standstill where no decision is achieved. This is actually one of the main reasons why organizations often do not have customer experience strategy. Answering the question of client persona correctly is the first step of mapping the future of your company.
Know Who You Serve
Let’s take an airline. If the passenger experience is designed for a “leisure” traveler (someone going on vacation), while the prevalent customer is a business traveler, that airline’s customer satisfaction will go down, despite investments in customer experience.
Every organization has limited funds that need to be prioritized. If this same airline invested in inflight entertainment systems and bag drop experience instead of operational reliability (being on time; taking off) the ROI of that investment would be poor.
Business flights tend to be shorter. Their passengers usually work onboard. Departure times also tend to be earlier. Business travelers need to sleep on the plane and arrive at meetings on time. On those flights, the entertainment system is NOT one of the major customer needs.
Make the Right Investments
Now, if the same airline invested in onboard wifi, the story changes. Another thing that business travelers do not do is check in bags. So those people may not even UNDERSTAND that there was a new bag drop experience your airline paid for them to enjoy.
This perspective of knowing your customer is just as important for BtoB organizations like ours. Knowing who our customer is took some digging, analysis and trials. First, we started with the really small businesses in the neighborhood.
We quickly learned that we need established businesses with 100M revenues or more in order to have the necessary client infrastructure to make an impact. Does that mean we cannot help smaller businesses? No. Of course we can help them! We just cannot afford to do that for the level of budgets they have.
Understand the How
Once you have identified your customers, it is time to identify their true problem. Not the problem you think they have, not the one the media talks about. Their actual problem. Everyone is facing a challenge.
In the BtoB world, those challenges are even bigger. Identify the challenges, then design how you are going to meet them. The “How” is critical. The “How” is your brand. And your brand is an essential piece of your customer experience strategy.
Your brand is your culture and principles that guide your behaviors with the client. Are you selling a self-service, seamless experience or exclusive, guided/curated experience? Is your strength technology or something else? Is your opportunity in the technology space or the people space? Only you know the answer to these questions.
One question you do NOT know the answer to is: “What is my customer’s need and how does he/she like it to be resolved?” Do not make the mistake of thinking that speaking to a few people is the same as conducting customer research.
Make sure you listen to your customers (even if you do not like what you hear). Then design the customer experience strategy that will make them happy. Not the one that you think will make you happy. Because, let’s face it, they are the ones paying your bills. 😉