CX Strategy (1) – First in a series about how to develop and implement a customer experience strategy
Welcome to the first article in my series on how to develop and implement a customer experience strategy.
This series is about building and implementing a customer experience strategy in a business-to-business environment and in what I call ‘the real world’. The real world is one where people behave like human beings, and not as traditional economists would have us believe. Human beings do not constantly try to optimize mid-term outcomes. We behave far less rationally, though still quite predictably. A great customer experience strategy combines scientific research, behavioral economics and the experience of others. In this series, I share mistakes I have made and things that I have found to be successful. Above all, I believe the series will save you a lot of time on your path to happier and more loyal customers.
What is customer experience?
In this context, customer experience is the overall impression your company creates with each of your clients. It is influenced by many factors, from the way your brand is perceived as socially and environmentally responsible, to what happens when someone complains about your product or service. From a practical perspective, it is about the ‘customer journey’. It starts with the way a customer becomes aware of your existence and continues through the cycle of comparison, purchase, implementation, use of the product or service, decision to renew or repurchase, and their decision to talk about you positively, negatively or not at all.
The main concepts that will be covered are:
- A comprehensive methodology for developing, communicating and implementing a formal customer experience strategy. The system works well for medium to large enterprises and can be simplified for smaller businesses. At least some of it is applicable to entities that have non-paying customers, such as government departments. Some ideas on how to simplify the methodology for small companies are also covered.
- A comparison of the main customer experience systems in use around the world, and a methodology for choosing between them. Each has been successful in its own way. There is no single correct answer that works for everyone.
- A short article explores whether there is any evidence that employee happiness is a necessary condition for customer satisfaction. The research will surprise some readers.
- Methods of ensuring you have the sponsorship required to succeed. Once you have a strategy, how can you be sure you will get and keep support for implementing it? What are the keys to keeping your management both interested and supportive of the ongoing investment?
- Companies change constantly, from rebranding to mergers. How can they ensure customer loyalty through the inevitable transitions?
- Since accurate customer feedback is critical to your efforts, there will be articles on the different types of customer research that can be used, how to design good surveys, and the most common mistakes people make when they implement their feedback systems.
- The application of behavioral economics research to gain insights into customer behavior.
- Examples of initiatives you may like to consider as you build your own strategy.
What is the scope of B2B?
For the purposes of this series, business-to-business refers to companies that sell products and services to other companies. Size does not matter much, though some techniques will probably not be appropriate for very small companies. My working assumption is that the client companies will be of all sizes, from small to very large. Strategy development will be faster for smaller companies with a small number of clients, though the methodology is independent of size.
What is strategy?
Strategy is about how you deploy your resources to win. You don’t have unlimited resources and can’t afford to do everything. This series will provide you with a system to determine what to do that will have the highest impact and how to implement it effectively.
A common but ineffective strategy is to “exceed customer expectations in all our interactions.” Nobody has the resources needed to do this despite the thousands of web and printed pages that say the opposite. The question is how you determine where doing the strict minimum is appropriate, and how you will gain market share by doing something exceptional. It is absolutely not random.
Difference between customer experience and quality
Quality also tends to be defined broadly. People use the term for a wide range of different purposes. An excellent sales team could be said to be of high quality. For the purposes of this series, ‘quality’ means product and service reliability; their ability to continue to function.
This is not about organization design
Organization design needs to be done after work design. While I will cover possible answers to the question of where a customer experience leader should report, it is not a major focus of this series. I do, however, cover innovative ideas about staffing and how to make customer experience work into an attractive people-development path in your organization.
The next article will be about what makes B2B different.
As is often the case, the above is an edited version of a chapter in one of our books; in this case Customer Experience Strategy – Design and Implementation.All of our books are available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon stores worldwide, and from your better book retailers.