Customer experience, namely the way brands interact with their customers, is a broad topic that affects a lot of other processes within a company. Building a relationship with with customers is vital for encouraging customer loyalty and advocacy.
We’ll be going through:
- What customer experience is
- Why customer experience is important, and
- The ten steps to developing a customer experience strategy.
What is the definition of customer experience?
Often shortened to CX, customer experience covers any interaction between you and your customers, and your customers’ feelings resulting from such interactions.
This includes interacting with your product or service, and with other types of communication such as social media, feedback collection, promotional events, and so on. These moments are known as touchpoints (where you connect with your customer base directly), and how successfully these interactions go has a huge bearing on how your brand is perceived by your target audience.
Why is it important to improve customer experience?
The difference between a bad experience and a good one can make the difference between increased customer retention and a continuous turnover of customers. Customer retention has a huge impact on revenue and so do, by association, customer experience.
We speak more on the importance of customer retention in our article ‘Why is customer retention important? The essentials you need to know’, but, in essence, the higher the number of your customers that return on a regular basis to your company, the more stable your bottom line is going to be.
The customers are the ones with the power to influence the success of your company, so providing them with great cx is a vital part of ensuring the continued success of your brand. 2022 found that:
- One in three customers will walk away from a business after just one bad experience (a further 90% will walk after 2 or more bad experiences.)
- 94% of customers who consider a brand's CX to be “very good” are more likely to purchase more from the company in the future.
- 70% of enterprise CEOs consider CX a major differentiating factor between themselves and their competitors.
How do you develop a customer experience strategy?
So now that we know why customer experience is so important, how do you begin to develop one? These are the ten steps of a cx strategy that you must get right to ensure the strategy you build will stand the test of time.
One- Research your existing customer base
To start a strategy such as this one, you have to do your research first in order to approach the program with an appropriate knowledge base. For customer experience this means two things…
The first is understanding your target audience, and evaluating how much of your existing customer base fits with this. This means taking a look at both of your buyer and user personas and analyzing them against your current customer base. How many of your loyal customers fit in with your personas?
The second is evaluation of where you interact with these customers and what the user experience quality at these points of connection. This is where it’s good to get customer insights. Talk to those who had both good and bad experiences with your support teams to begin identifying the areas which need to be focussed on in this strategy.
Two- Map out the customer journey
Contextualize customer experience within the customer journey so you can identify the touchpoints which are most in need of attention. This is a continuation of the last point, as once you have a good understanding of who your customers are, you can begin evaluating how they interact with your brand.
Create a customer journey map so you can identify the pain points both pre and post-purchase processes. If you notice there is a high drop off point during one stage in the customer journey, analyze this stage and the processes associated with it in depth.
That way you can identify if these drop offs are a result of poor customer experience, or another factor that may also be worth your attention. And don’t be afraid to follow up with you customers. They, after all, are in the best position to let you know what does and doesn’t work within the customer journey.
Three- Conduct competitive analysis
Third is conducting an in depth analysis of your competitors. Now, you should already be regularly checking up on your competitors and their style of work, but this investigation will focus on the experiences their customers have with them.
- Consider the types of communication they use for customer interactions.
- Check review sites and social media channels to see what their customers are saying about them.
- Evaluate how their customer support is run, how smoothly their automation surveys run, and so on.
Doing this can not only identify ideas for where to improve your own customer service, but also find the gaps in customer needs where they’re lacking.You can then fill those gaps to give yourself a competitive advantage.
Four- Establish your goals
If you’re going into this with the simple premise of ‘I want to improve the experiences of my customers’, then you’re not going to get very far. While this is a completely understandable sentiment, you must delve into the details of what it is about your current processes you want to change and add too, otherwise you’ll remain floundering in the dark.
Knowing exactly where you want to change things can go a long way into justifying the creation of the strategy to stakeholders too. If everyone involved in the project has a good understanding of why it exists, it’ll minimize the risk of siloed work, or poorly done tasks.
Allow your members the opportunity to get invested and excited in the project, so they understand what they are working towards in terms of the goals for your teams and the business goals as a whole.
Five- Align your strategy with business objectives
Your cx strategy should align with the business goals of your company as a whole. When speaking about customer experience consider the tone and style of your content, and make sure it accurately reflects the brand image your c-suite executives and stakeholders want to put forward.
Align your strategy with the overall business roadmap and identify how your cx strategy is proactive in realising these goals.
Six- Engage key stakeholders
The key with this stage is strong communication and transparency. To understand why they should sign-off on your cx strategy, stakeholders must understand why the strategy exists. Keep things simple and aim to answer:
- The problem your strategy is going to solve,
- The steps you will take to solve this problem,
- What solving this problem will achieve for the company as a whole,
- The timeline to achieving these solutions.
One way to spark interest is to talk to them about the metrics and KPIs you’ll use to measure your success. Consider more tangible scores such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), or Customer Satisfaction Score, as well as relationship based evidence including case studies and surveys.
If stakeholders can see where your efforts are going, and how this can improve other parts within the company they’re much more likely to sign-off on such a program.
Seven- Evaluate appropriate lines of communication
This is with both your customers and your internal teams. Cross-departmental collaboration is vital in this strategy because customer experience impacts every aspect of the customer journey and the team responsible within these stages.
Set up a repeat meeting with your stakeholders and teams involved in the process so everyone involved is on the same page for any changes you may need to make.
Collect customer data from surveys, focus groups, and case studies. Establish what you customer expectations are for an improved cx experience. This way you can better align your strategy to your target audience, but also improve brand loyalty by showing your customers that you are a customer centric company.
Customers like being informed of the changes you make in the company that’ll affect them, so don’t be afraid to be transparent about any improvements you want to make.
Eight- Establish your CX strategy
Now to get into the strategy itself. Which tactics and changes will you chose to implement? Are there any current processes you can optimize? Is there scope for introducing more feedback channels through automation such as chatbots?
These are all questions you must consider in this part, and which solutions you go for will depend on the unique pain points you’ll be solving or your customers. Customer experience is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You must utilize the research you’ve already done on your existing customers, your target audience, and your competitors to create a solutions personalized to you.
Remember to investigate your current customer churn and customer retention rates. Consider talking to your customer success teams to get insights from the feedback they’ve collected from customers, post-purchase.
You must also make sure that whatever customer relationship management schemes you come up with are also sustainable. While revisiting old processes and strategies is inevitable, you don’t want to have to go back to your strategy every single month because the practices you’ve put in place are not realistic long term.
Instead, make sure to consider the changes you can make that are sustainable for long and short periods of time. Consider how you can support customer experience through big events like product launches as well as through the day-to-day experiences of using your product (this is especially important for SaaS companies).
Nine- Track your progress
Once your cx strategy is set up, the next thing to do is launch and monitor it. Try to check in on these new processes every single week to begin with so you can catch any components that aren’t working early and change them.
Remember that the aim of the strategy is to offer a positive customer experience for all of your customers. Don’t be afraid to get your customer’s perception on these changes too, and ask them how these solutions have played out for them (This’ll be a great place to get your advocates involved in your business processes. Let them know about the changes and use them as a quick point of contact to monitor how each implementation is running.)
Ten- Optimize your CX strategy
We said earlier that you don’t want to keep on revisiting your strategy, and that’s true, but you don’t want to neglect it either. Having to revisit and change your strategy from the minute you start to implement is a sign of things not being set up properly earlier in the timeline.
But as your strategy rolls out, you may find certain components haven’t worked as well as you wanted them to, and will need to be changed in order to deliver the best customer experience. This shouldn’t at all be seen as a failure, in fact, cx strategies that change depending on feedback from the customers experiencing them are doing exactly what they should be doing; listening to the customers experiences.
Optimizing your strategy in the following months after implementing it will hopefully lead to an increase in customer satisfaction, customer retention and, through word-of-mouth, an increase in new customers too.
Support your work
So, now you have a good foundation on which to consider your customer experience strategy, we wanted to let you know about some more resources you might find creating this strategy more efficient, with the templates and frameworks in our CMA memberships. For example our customer experience map checklist which covers:
👥 How to create a cross-functional team for your Cx strategy,
🔍 How to collect both qualitative and quantitative data,
🔧 How best to breakdown your customer needs (as well as your own KPIs)
We have more covering a variety of customer marketing topics such as personas, advocacy, retention, VoC, and more.