Customer experience exists whether you are intentional about it or not.
After all, your customer is experiencing the brand via every interaction, touchpoint, service call, and delivery. The customer walks away with a perception of what the brand is, and whether or not this brand lives up to its promises, with every step along their personal journey.
Leaders often say, “We’re just getting started with customer experience,” but that’s a myth. CX has been happening as long as your organization has existed — with or without your attention and intention!
When leaders say this, what they really mean is, “We’re just getting started with customer experience management.”
What is Customer Experience Management?
CXM is what happens inside the organization in order to deliver an intentional customer experience. CXM is how we go from thinking CX is “nice to have” to act on it like what it is: a mindset, a strategy, and a business discipline.
Great customer experiences are the result of focused, intentional Customer Experience Management. Like any part of business, CXM requires intentional strategy, design, and ongoing evaluation.
Let’s break this down a bit further.
What does Customer Experience Management Require?
CXM requires four key elements:
- CX Strategy
- Technology and Tools
- Governance and Discipline
- Iterative Design
Let’s start with your CX Strategy.
It’s no mistake that I’m recommending we start with strategy.
Many leaders want to jump straight ahead to the technology and tools they’ll use to manage CX.
As a result, it’s common for customer experience management to be reduced to the platforms which enable CX strategy. CXM is often wrongly defined as a technology platform when instead it should be defined as a way of doing business.So I encourage you to fight against the urge to jump straight ahead to tools (we’ll get there next!) and think about strategy first.
What is customer experience strategy?
Let’s start by defining what it’s not: It can’t be “have a great customer experience” or “exceed customer expectations.”
Those are wishes — and while they’re admirable wishes, they’re not strategies!
A CX strategy is based on a CX Mission Statement and a CX Success Statement. The strategy defines and communicates customer experience across your organization and aligns customer experience goals with larger organizational goals.
This strategy is not just for customer happiness, but for brand success.
Everyone in the organization should understand what customer experience your brand aspires to deliver, and their role in achieving that. The strategy is about what leaders are involved where, and what actions and plans are required to deliver on the promises made throughout the customer journey.
What should customer experience strategy include?
Your strategy should include:
- A clear vision of what CX means at your organization. This is where the CX Mission Statement and the CX Success Statement are so helpful!
- Defined goals for leaders around CX, including what leader is responsible for decisions and priorities ultimately.
- How each goal will be measured for success, based on both customer feedback and operational outcomes.
Now consider technology and tools.
Once you know where you’re going with customer experience, then it’s time to find the right tools to get you there.
In an ideal world, you’ll have one, universal and centralized tool for customer experience management. Sometimes, you’ll have to leverage what tools you have available and create your own way of centralizing the data.
What Should CX Technology Do?
You want technology to enable:
- Customer feedback and Voice of the Customer programs
- Operational dashboards
- A holistic view of the customer journey
Customer experience management platforms and tools today provide robust choices for leaders.
Knowing your vision, mission and strategy will guide you to what tools will best serve your organization. If you already have legacy systems and technologies that won’t be changing any time soon, fear not! You can do this.
Just look for what those tools can provide, then centralize those findings into a dashboard related to your CX strategy and goals.
This does require manual effort and can be time-consuming, so automate whatever parts you can.
None of this matters without Governance and Discipline
Are there any words LESS appealing than governance and discipline?
Customer experience is supposed to be fun and focused on customers – do we really need to talk about governance?
Yes, we do. Customer experience sometimes gets classified as “soft” or “nice to have” because it gets talked about but not acted on.
And many CX programs start with a tactic – like a customer journey map – and lose steam when leadership nods along but there is no discipline to back it up. THIS is why governance is so critical.
Governance provides a framework to help guide decisions and outcomes around CX for the organization. Without this, for example, it’s way too easy for every team leader to say “let’s send a survey” and quickly inundate customers with feedback requests.
It’s also tricky to prioritize what actions are needed after identifying a list of dozens of ideas after customer journey mapping. What gets funded? What gets prioritized? These are questions that are hard to answer without CX governance.
The framework provides clear objectives, policies, and protocols around CX decisions.
This requires cross-functional teams and often includes two levels of responsibilities:
- A team of leaders who are close to the issues, typically including Marketing, Customer Service, Product Development, and others, organize and report their recommendations for improving the customer experience.
- An executive leadership team to approve or deny those recommendations.
This can be especially important in industries with regulations and compliance rules. This is understandable, but a CX strategy can also help teams get creative about solving customer issues, instead of shrugging them away with “that’s how it’s done in our industry.”
And finally…iterate and innovate!
Customer experience depends on avoiding complacency. Teams and leaders must be dedicated to continuous evaluation and improvement.
I’ve witnessed customer survey programs that have not had a change in ten years.
Customers change, and your approaches to CX must change with them. What’s the point of all this effort if it doesn’t result in compelling, meaningful customer experiences that will move into the future with our customers?
CX strategy means staying ahead of the marketplace by investing in the experience customers have with your brand. That requires future-focused thinking and ongoing assessment of what success looks like.
Customer experience can move your organization forward while creating powerful and positive moments for your customers. It doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by design.