What is a customer experience strategy?
A customer experience strategy is a plan to deliver an excellent customer journey with a brand to improve the customer relationship over time. A customer experience strategy requires company-wide adoption of guiding customer service principles.
Whether you’re a new business preparing to enter the market or an established company looking to improve (or reset) the customer experience, taking a thoughtful approach to forming and delivering your customer experience strategy can help separate you from the pack.
As the International Data Corporation found in its report, Supporting Customer Experience Initiatives, “Customer experience strategies that not only include the direct customer-facing employees but incorporate traditional back-office processes aligned to the customer and business requirements are key to building a comprehensive and seamless experience.” For many companies, that means accepting the fact that short-term benefits might need to take a back seat in favor of the long game. That can be a difficult sell, but doing so can result in a customer experience strategy that will help your company not only weather marketplace challenges gracefully, but deliver a customer experience that goes above and beyond.
Here’s a look at some keys to building and delivering a better customer experience strategy.
Customer service leadership
At its core, the process of customer service design must be driven by your business’s leaders—without their authority and vision, the business will struggle to absorb that strategy into the company culture. In IDC’s survey, 72.3 percent of respondents indicated that their company’s customer experience strategy is borne by CEOs or other senior executives. If they’re not onboard, chances are your experience strategy will fail.
Holistic organizational effort
Everyone in the company needs to understand the strategy and manage to it, not just the customer service organization. If departmental silos exist, break them down (which might have to come from leadership). And remember that the success of any customer experience strategy relies on all departments making decisions with this in mind—whether it’s sales, marketing, or product design.
Creating and delivering a customer service strategy that emphasizes a consistent experience across channels requires well-thought-out processes, integrated systems, and company-wide buy-in. That’s no easy feat, especially since many companies use multiple systems for managing customer service data and insights—and those systems can be difficult to sync, especially if they are legacy platforms. As you develop your customer experience strategy, ask yourself if there are software solutions that can help your employees access customer data and insight in context easily, and will your systems provide the flexibility you’ll need to embrace change?
And while it makes sense to build a plan that drives customers to lower-cost channels like self-service and live chat, be prepared for unintended consequences. As IDC discovered, companies pushing customers into lower-cost channels tend to see fewer agent interactions, but those experiences have been increasing in length. As a result, contact center managers expect to see an increase in the agent population “in the next 12 months.” Why? As more customers have their problems solved via self-service and so on, more complex issues land on agents’ plates.
No customer experience strategy will work without proper efforts to train, support, and retain employees. Motivated and experienced customer service agents play a vital role, and investing in them will also help increase company loyalty, reduce turnover, and preserve institutional knowledge. By pairing your customer experience strategy with one to develop employees, you will lay the foundation for a company that can withstand anything the market throws at it.