What is a customer experience strategy?
A customer experience strategy is vital to help businesses navigate both the good times and the bad. It’s your plan of action to help you focus on your priorities and deal with issues when they arise. Find out everything you need to know about customer experience strategy.
The crunch point. We’ve all been there.
We were happily doing our work, sticking to the old routines and ways of working. But outside the office, the world was changing. Technology was developing and customers wanted better, more and different. And suddenly, before you knew it, there came a crunch point.
A crunch point might be dramatic, like a global pandemic forcing your contact centre to start remote working immediately. Or it might be something with a longer-term impact, like a decision by the board to invest in automation. Or your boss telling your team to work faster, with fewer resources.
Finally, the crunch point might be something that you knew was coming, which forces you to make a decision – eg the contract on your contact centre technology is up for renewal. Do you stick with what you know or finally take a leap and become cloud-based?
Although they don’t always feel like it at the time, these crunch points are exciting opportunities to think differently and work better. And they are brilliant catalysts for creating a robust customer experience strategy.
A customer experience strategy is your long-term plan
Let’s break the phrase ‘customer experience strategy’ into its two key components:
- customer experience, is how your customers perceive your brand after an interaction with your business. Often shortened to ‘CX’, customer experience covers a variety of customer touchpoints, eg your website, shop and chatbot.
- strategy is a rather grand term for plan.
So, a customer experience strategy is your long-term plan to delight your customers. And when you have happy, loyal customers, you can keep your business growing well into the future.
Planning a customer experience strategy
Before you write your customer experience strategy, you need to ask yourself some questions. Think about your crunch points and ask:
- what is this issue a symptom of?
- what is the problem I need to solve?
- what is my end goal?
- what are my priorities?
- what do I need to stop, start and continue to reach my goal?
Think about your business today. Where are you right now in terms of your CX? Perhaps you are looking for ways to improve your customer experience and your NPS and CSAT scores. Maybe you need to look at making cost savings. Alternatively, you might be seeking ways to find a better balance between the two. Whatever you’re trying to achieve, your customer experience strategy should focus on ways to help you meet your objectives.
If you’re frustrated with your current technology and believe it’s time for a change, don’t jump ahead to finding the next piece of tech. Think about the outcomes you want to see, and then you can look for the technology to help meet those outcomes.
Think also about the context you’re working in. What changes have you seen in your customers’ behaviour or among your competitors recently? For example, our report CX realities – the story of COVID-19 and how customer service responded showed that the pandemic triggered a rapid shake-up of the traditional channel mix. Customers of all ages turned to online solutions such as web chat and social media during lockdown to engage with organisations. If you’ve seen something similar, your strategy should include plans to strengthen your capabilities in these areas and increase ways for customers to resolve issues through automation.
As well as thinking about ideal solutions, consider how your strategy can help when things don’t go to plan. What does the business do when things fail? What will you change if plans go wrong? Many businesses are aiming for full automation as the low-cost, convenient CX solution. But what if you can’t automate everything first time? And what if your business deals with sensitive issues where customers want or need the human touch? Seventy-two per cent of service agents say their interactions with customers are relationship oriented (Salesforce, State of service, Third edition). How will you ensure that empathy and warmth are still part of your customer experience in an automated future?
Don’t forget to check-in with your customers
Remember, your customer experience strategy is all about making your customers happy. So, it’s important to check-in with your customers and find out what they want and need before you work on your strategy. There are various ways of doing this, including:
- primary research – interviewing your customers
- customer surveys
- your NPS scores
- customer sentiment from speech and text analytics.
Your employees are also a rich source of insight into any barriers, issues and where you’re winning when it comes technology, working practices and supporting customers.
To find out more about surveying customers and employees, making the most of your data and moving to the cloud as part of a customer experience strategy, check out our in-depth guide on creating a customer experience strategy to drive business growth.