Customer Experience Strategy – What’s That?

“You must earn the right to continued relationships with customers”. – Jeanne Bliss

The very premise of having customers is that the company also has a customer experience strategy in place. The customer service team’s primary job is to uphold this strategy but is not limited to them. Every member of the company must know what the customer experience strategy is and work cohesively to ensure that every customer experience is memorable. Is your company one that has a customer experience strategy in place or is it one that says “what’s that”? More often than not, this crucial strategy is overlooked or undermined as teams are inclined and focused on creating brand awareness, generating sales or getting leads on prospective business. Once a customer is on board keeping them satisfied and engaged does not seem that important. The customer experience strategy becomes almost non-existent.

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A customer experience strategy is vital in building relationships with customers that in turns breeds loyalty. It is detrimental in this day and age to ‘hope’ that customers will just go with the flow or that you cannot really determine how they will react. Loyal customers will always remain loyal or nothing can be done to please dissatisfied customers is a very regressive thought process and a sure way to for your competition to succeed. Having a customer experience strategy in place will give the company a distinct competitive advantage as you will be able to deliver exactly what the current and prospective customers seek. Driving a unique customer experience strategy is a sure shot way of achieving growth that is sustainable even if the industry in which you operate is stagnating or at a plateau. A highly distinct customer experience through customer service can even change an indifferent or disgruntled customer into a delighted loyal one. A well-planned and well-executed customer service strategy will gain for the company a vocal band of loyalists that will use all possible channels to speak well of you ensuring that your reputation soars and your market share increases substantially.

So how do you know if you have a customer experience strategy or the one you think you have works? Ask yourself this:
– Is the customer experience you would like to deliver clearly defined in the customer service strategy?
– Are the business processes and strategies and the customer service strategy aligned?
– The brand you promote and the customer service strategy are in tandem?
– Is the customer experience strategy part of the company’s culture and awareness exists among the employees?

If all the answers are not a yes, then you could be in trouble and would need to immediately rectify the problematic area or areas to have a well-rounded customer experience strategy. Of course, the all-important and very relevant customer feedback collected via the customer service programs would also give you answers as to how your customers feel and what they think about their experiences when dealing with your company. Customers are the ones who are at the receiving end of the customer service and so their opinion on whether the customer experience strategy is working or not is indispensable.

Irrespective of how many positive replies you receive from questions you ask internally, if the feedback from customers is indicating that the experiences they are having are far from satisfactory, the customer experience strategy needs re-doing. Customers are happy to provide feedback, especially now with so many channels at their disposal giving relevant and insightful feedback is so much easier and convenient. Customers must be at the heart of your company’s customer service that in turn will determine the customer experience strategy. As a company, simplifying the process of collecting feedback from customers will ensure that you can keep a finger on the pulse of customers – their needs, wants and expectations. By taking this feedback in to cognizance, companies are able to revitalize and renew their customer experience strategies and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty levels.

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Any strategy that is focused on the customer must be constantly updated and re-looked at. Customers are also managing many facets – their own business and a plethora of digital channels that keep spurting out information and messages. It is important for them, however even at this stage companies need to be aware of promoting their brand in such a way that it conveys to the customer that it is done with the end customer experience in mind. Using the multi-channel strategy is a more holistic approach to creating the most relevant customer service strategy. Communication channels are evolving steadily and at a mind-boggling pace and hence using one or the other digital strategy would be insufficient. This is a complex situation and companies must deal with it head on lest they fall behind on their customer service.

When the market was not so competitive and volatile, it sufficed to scale up business by acquiring new customers and having a standard customer service strategy in place. However, the changed scenario is significantly influencing the necessity for businesses to have an end-to-end customer experience strategy in place that is reevaluated and tweaked based on the market, customer expectations and competitor scenario. It is no longer about just attracting customers – retaining them, keeping them happy and matching their every demand – is what makes or breaks it for a company. A customer experience strategy is the key to creating new revenue methods and increasing the overall value a customer finds in remaining with your company. So what are some of things that companies can do to have a focused and effective customer experience strategy:

– Put together a tailor made value proposition
Segment your customers based on feedback that records the kind of experience that each customer has had. Create a value proposition for each of these segments that are customized based on the customer experiences. This will allow for the most pertinent customer experience strategy for a particular segment.

– Encourage cross-functional cooperation
The value propositions will only be successful if everyone in the company is focused on serving the customers accordingly. The real value to the customer and memorable customer experience must be a concerted and combined effort.

– Make great customer experiences a habit
Companies that regularly update and have a robust customer experience strategy in place are the ones that will be able to keep their customers pleased consistently.

– Keep the customer experience strategy consistent across all touch points
Customers can and will interact with anyone in the organization – sales people, marketing staff, customer service agents and others. Ensure that the customer experience strategy is consistent across all these interaction points and is based on individual customer needs. Getting to know what your customer needs and expects would be the starting point.

– Customer experience will be great when there is human contact
Any communication that goes out regarding the brand or promotions must be personalized. A rote or general email for example will not strike the right chords. For a truly engaged customer experience, make sure your strategy is personal.

– Use the clout of technology to enhance your customer experience strategy
Technology is a powerful tool but must be used to enhance the customer experience strategy and not to create it. It should revolve around the customer experience strategy and strengthen it.

The Customer experience strategy must begin from the top. The business leaders must evaluate the starting points of a customer focused strategy that will lead to pleasant customer experiences. Firstly they must learn to think like a customer. When a customer contacts and interacts with anyone from the company, the customer will have a certain experience. The experience could bring about a range of emotions which could be happy or frustrated or even angry. Understanding, monitoring and dealing with these emotions will make it easier to formulate or tweak the customer experience strategy such that the positive experiences are enhanced and the negative ones done away with. Secondly, ensure that there is robust and fool-proof process in place to keep the customer experience strategy well. Customers must be kept in the loop as they are the reason for these processes and strategies.

A customer experience strategy is a direct and speedy way to uncover the untried avenues of profit in the business. Taking the time and effort to develop a customer service strategy will in the long haul reward you with customer loyalty and willing customers who will act as brand ambassadors thereby opening more avenues for growth and revenue.

“Everyone in an organization should be involved with customer service, not only are they feeling the customer but they are getting a feeling for what’s not working”. – Penny Handscomb

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