Business has entered the era of the customer. Creating a customer service strategy is at the top of everyone’s to-do list. According to a 2014 Harvard Business Review survey, companies who provided an excellent customer experience surpassed poor-CX companies in profitability, quality, growth and revenue generation, market share, and customer retention.
With benefits like these, companies are scrambling to deliver good customer experience. However, only 36% of those surveyed said that they felt their company’s CX strategy had adequate forward planning and support.
Creating a customer service strategy can be difficult. Sometimes companies can get stuck making small changes to their existing model instead of taking a good look at it and rethinking from the ground up. Customers today want to be thrilled with excellent service, and industries with legions of only-satisfied customers are ripe for disruption by an innovative startup with a completely new game plan.
Determining what actually works and measuring ROI is a fraught and complex task, which is why we’ve come up with these 8 tips on how to build a successful CX strategy.
1. Appoint a CX leader
Your customer experience initiative is only as good as its support and implementation. A good CX director will keep it organized and on-track, and be able to draw from resources throughout the company. They’ll be able to identify the right profiles throughout the company who truly understand your customers, whose input will be necessary to gain broad-based support for your CX goals.
2. Determine your CX goals and objectives
Your CX goals should be relevant to your brand and your mission, and, most importantly, your bottom line. What, exactly, do you want to accomplish? You can spend a little time asking yourself questions such as:
- Do you want new customers or to increase revenue from existing customers?
- Are you moving into new markets or introducing new products and services to your existing markets?
- What is your top area of competition? (Ex: value, innovation, personalized service)
- What promises does your brand make that should be fulfilled by your CX?
3. Make the customer experience central to your company culture
One tech company went so far as to associate part of their executive-level compensation package to customer satisfaction metrics. You don’t have to go this far, but officially tying together your CX and business strategy is one of the top four best practices in this area.
4. Gather data from all channels to create a detailed map of the customer experience
Your business probably has different products or services, and handles customers through different channels, such as telephone calls, email, social media and so on. Comprehensive information from both sides of the experience – from inside the company as well as from the customer’s point of view – is important to creating a customer service strategy that covers all the bases.
Take a good look at how your customers interact with your brand. Their experience is what should determine your CX agenda. What are their touch points and at what stage of their journey do they use the different channels?
5. Zoom in on what your customers really want
Once you have good descriptions of your customer demographics and how they interact with your company, you should have a good idea of your customers true needs and desires, which might not match up with your preconceptions. For instance, when one US airport surveyed their customers’ expectations they found that customers didn’t mind having longer wait times as long as TSA officers behaved in a courteous and efficient manner.
6. Pinpoint the gap between customers’ desires and what they receive
This is the area where changes make the most difference and where you should concentrate your efforts. Maybe your customers want to feel welcomed and comforted when they deal with your company, or maybe they just want to finish the interaction quickly and efficiently and get on with their day.
If you can spot a customer pain point that is not being addressed by existing systems within your industry you can create a customer service strategy that will leave the competition in your dust.
7. Create a customer service strategy with SMART policies
Once you have all the data and you know what it means you can create a customer experience strategy that is Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-based. Everyone in your company should know the role they need to play and exactly what actions to take to fulfill that role.
For instance, the Forrester’s Customer Experience Strategy Best Practices report talks about VCA Animal Hospitals, who have a ‘Client I Want List’, where their CX goals are spelled out in clear actionable terms such as: “Provide sensitivity, privacy and flexibility around [the customer’s] payment options.”
8. Review your results and make changes as needed
It’s important to have clearly-defined metrics by which you can track the results of your efforts. This will help ensure that everyone is on board and show areas where your team might need some extra training, or deserve some extra appreciation.
Just as important, you’ll be able to measure the success (or lack thereof) of your strategy. How well are you achieving your goals? Which initiatives are making the most difference to your bottom line?
With proper measurement and analysis of your data points you’ll know how to prioritize your resources to get the biggest CX bang for the buck. You should collect information both on short and long-term goals that support your vision for your company 5 or 10 years down the line. It’s also important to look at the details and the big picture, from the day-to-day interactions at each branch office, to an all-inclusive view of where your company as a whole is going.
Delivering a good customer experience is one of the major platforms for giving your company a competitive edge in today’s market. It’s not an easy process, but it’s worth the effort.