If I told you, to survive in this competitive world, you need to focus on your customers and meet all their expectations. Would that surprise you? Isn’t it Management 101?
Since the beginning of time, none of these fundamentals have changed.
It is still as simple as delivering something of value to your customers to become or remain profitable.
The most important aspect still, is whether your customers perceive it to be of any value?
All the content they read or watched to know you better, all the attention they showered you with, did it make them feel something? Different, exclusive, special, intelligent?
This, in a nutshell, is Customer Experience.
What is that you want your customer to feel about your brand and offering?
As a concept it is simple to understand and follow. But in reality it is complex.
Typical Customer Experience
My bank sends me seven e-mails in a week, one says “dear a/c no XXXX”, other says “Dear Charu”, another one says “Dear customer”.
Three interactions, three different experiences. Add to this the text promotions, calls with my relationship managers, a visit to the branch.
At all these touch points it doesn’t seem they are talking to me, it seems they are sending messages, which can be ignored, hence I ignore them.
Frankly, I do not expect to be treated like royalty.
I am fine receiving emails with “dear a/c no XXXX” however, I do have a problem when these interactions are shoving products in my face. Personal loans, car loans, two-wheeler loans etc just because I opened an email on their home loan offer.
This is one of the many problems we face as customers. There are organizations who think every interaction is about sales, then there are some who don’t realize when there is an actual sales opportunity. There are some who give us amazing buying experience but their customer support is abysmal.
Customer Experience in Digital World
Often customer experience is used in conjunction with digital. How is a website or app experience? Did your customer easily find what they were looking for?
No doubt, customer experience is important in the digital world, but your customer experience strategy should be holistic. It should factor that every microinteraction with the customer will cumulate to their experience.
Another important element to consider is that customer experience is industry agnostic now. I expect similar services from my internet service provider and home appliances company.
In an event of a service request, I want their customer support executive to understand my problems and suggest an appropriate solution. The visit from their representative should be at my convenience, etc.
Customer Experience Strategy and Business Strategy
Sales and Marketing are the face of a business. So, it is obvious to assume that onus lies on these two teams to manage it well. Otherwise, it is often confused with Customer Support function.
But, a Marketing team cannot expedite the process of a refund for a customer? Or the customer support cannot comment on implementation issues.
Therefore, it has to be an integral part of the business strategy to ensure that organizational silos do not hamper the customer experience. If a refund needs to be processed immediately, the finance team should change their process rather than asking the customer to wait.
How To Build Your Customer Experience Strategy?
Many organizations have a different function catering to the customer experience. In SaaS world, they are often called Customer Success Managers.
But, in most cases, their work starts after a prospect has become a customer. So, their influence in the earlier part of the pipeline is non-existent or minimal.
Since business pipeline or funnel is one of the most important metric for a business, it can be used to design your customer experience strategy.
However, there are few important factors to note:
- Often Sales and Marketing teams have different data in their respective funnels. It makes sense because both teams have different goals.
But, for designing the customer experience strategy it is beneficial to refer to one funnel.
- Retention is often not considered as part of the funnel. Somehow it is assumed that once a customer has converted, we need not engage anymore.
However, the times of today demand retention be an integral part of the funnel and the strategy.
- Lead are nurtured to move them from one stage to another. An exceptional customer experience would mean that teams collaborate on this aspect.
If Sales is leading the conversation, then Marketing should provide relevant material or events to enhance the experience.
Constituents of Customer Experience Strategy
There are three main constituents of the customer experience strategy:
Business Goal – What are you trying to achieve for your business? Are you trying to increase revenue or expanding into new markets?
Customer Persona – Before you can improve the customer experience, you need to know who your customer is and what are their preferences.
The number of customer personas vary on the size of your organization. A DIY home decor blog may be targeted at people interested in crafts or an on-budget homemaker.
Customer Experience Map – is the simplest way to visualize your customer experience strategy.
For each stage of the funnel, identify the interactions you will have with your customer to move them to next stage or for retention.
Define the value you want to deliver to a customer at each of these interactions and what would be the best channel/medium to do so.
Define the milestones for their journey. There might be more than one way to reach to the destination, you need to ensure that your customer takes the path you design for them.
Like all strategy exercises, this is an iterative process. Unlike all strategy exercises, it will be more dynamic in nature because a lot is dependent on the customer’s reaction and acceptance. There have been times when customers don’t appreciate change.
The simplest way to get it right is by asking the customers themselves.
Have thoughts on Customer Experience Strategy? Share them in comments.