Businesses and brands are working to identify and leverage strategies to achieve goals and promote growth. This means taking a look at existing initiatives and trying a fresh approach. For many, it’s time to consider new perspectives to serve the ever-evolving omnichannel landscape.
The vast majority of marketers today agree that the ideal method of brand differentiation is to deliver a better customer experience. Recent projections from Gartner’s Customer Experience Innovation 2017 survey show that by 2020, more than 40% of digital analytics-related projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience.
Driving The Future Of Business
To better meet the needs of customers and attract new markets, a business must focus on enhancing the customer experience as a top priority influencing its marketing strategies. To accomplish this, a brand will need to focus on improving both online and offline customer experiences by leveraging new technologies, tools and strategies to drive revenue and create meaningful relationships with customers.
Forrester data states that, while 72% of businesses see improving customer experience (CX) as a top priority, only 63% of marketers prioritize implementing strategy and investments that will help them get there. The problem, it seems, is that organizations aren’t entirely sure what a CX strategy would look like or how to implement it properly. And while many may think that the customer experience is all about, well, the customer, it begins with the business.
Defining The Customer Experience
Every company is in the business of CX. From retail brand Nordstrom to financial services company USAA, customer experience embodies the perception of a brand through the eyes of the customer, including all interactions a person has with a brand or business. These interactions are vast, ranging from a social media post to the content on a packaging label, helping to inform and connect the consumer to the brand, service, products and vision of the organization.
A well-crafted CX strategy should be deliberate, authentic and consistent, delivering the ideal environment to a consumer. Introducing a CX strategy to improve the customer experience provides a useful and optimal user experience — reducing cost, increasing value and creating differentiation. Key activities required to improve CX include creating personas, competitive analysis, touch point identification and journey mapping:
• Persona Development: The practice of developing user personas helps deepen a company's understanding of its customer, revealing insights that tailor the experience. Consider questions such as: Who are your users? Why are they interacting with your brand? What do they expect from that connection? What is their driving reason for coming to you?
• Competitive Analysis: By identifying market trends, a brand can begin to fully understand the expectations and needs of customers. Beginning with a review of customer-facing assets, companies can uncover important information, including purchasing patterns, pricing trends, differentiation points, features and benefits and so on. These answers inform the positioning of a brand in the market and how it is portrayed alongside its competition.
• Touch point Identification: Touch points encompass a customer's encounter with a brand, including everything from digital to print. These engagement points dictate how a customer feels about a product or service. Identifying, analyzing and developing an understanding of each touch point allows a company to design better experiences for its customer.
• Journey Mapping: Taking the information from touch point identification, customer journey mapping is an illustration of all the places customers interact with a brand. Journey maps visualize a customer's point of view, revealing their motivations. The result is a valuable tool from which a business can make revenue- and conversion-driving decisions.
The Big Idea: Setting A CX Blueprint
When building a customer experience strategy, all initiatives must authentically reflect the unique business, brand and vision. These elements should guide, inform and engage the identified markets, creating new opportunities for a business to grow.
The CX blueprint, along with a customer experience statement (CES) or big idea, should inspire customers, empower and inform all internal employees, with the CES acting as the driving force behind the strategy. By guiding the decision-making process, the CES defines initiatives that need to be put in place to deliver the ideal experience. Though similar, a CES should not be confused with a company’s mission statement, as a customer experience statement goes into specific detail about the inner-workings of the customer experience journey in relation to a company’s overarching vision.
Implementing The Strategy
The best customer experiences go far beyond marketing. Targeting, reaching and engaging the right user set and converting them requires a collaboration of strategy, personalization and goals that cannot be accomplished with marketing alone.
From design and content to sales and customer service, several components must work in alignment to bring a CX strategy to realization. Inclusive of training, tools, platforms and technology, outside teams and internal individuals will need to be fully contributory, working toward the strategy’s overall success to authentically resonate with the consumer.
The Truth Of Measurement
Customers are only human and they will change over time. Measurement of initiatives indicates that progress is being made, but also help to refine a customer experience strategy that remains consistently relevant.
The foremost tool for measurement is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), an index that ranges from -100 to 100, depicting how willing a customer is to recommend a brand's products and services to others. Additional metrics include average handling time (AHT)/first response time (FRT), first contact resolution (FCR), customer satisfaction score (CSAT) and customer effort score (CES).
The Tipping Point
While the path to becoming a fully customer-centric organization isn't immediate, it's essential to put a strategy in place that can provide experience-based differentiation, forging tangible connections for relevant products, services and brands.
Don’t be part of the nearly 40% of companies ignoring the power of CX. For companies of all sizes — whether new to CX and looking to establish a foundation, or a seasoned organization with an existing strategy — implementing a customer experience strategy will always be a sound investment for the long-term success and growth of a business.
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