In this previous post, I had discussed the importance of Customer Experience (CX) and the implications it has on a customer’s perception of a brand/company. Given the growing trend of commoditization of products and services, it makes brand differentiation a challenge. This challenge requires companies to find ways and means of differentiating themselves against competition, and one such measure includes providing a great customer experience.
As mentioned by Harley Manning, Research Director at Forester Research, companies often view customer experience as the various touch points that a customer interacts with. In his podcast on this topic, Manning uses an “iceberg” analogy to illustrate that the customer touch points as the tip of the iceberg that is visible to people. However, customer experience also includes the backend processes that enable these touch points i.e. the bottom of the iceberg, which is a substantial influencer in itself. So how does a company or brand target customer experience? How can companies truly improve and quantify customer experience?
Define Customer Experience
“A customer experience is an interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind. It is a blend of an organization’s rational performance, the senses stimulated and the emotions evoked and intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact.”
Design your CX Strategy
As mentioned in this post, managing positive experience requires time. Customers associate their perception of a brand based on multiple interactions and over a period of time. In order to satisfy customer needs and to promote a positive experience, companies need to engage the customer in a manner that promotes customer retention. This requires building a CX strategy around the core attributes of your brand and throughout the customer interaction lifecycle of the brand (from evaluation to post purchase/consumption experience). Companies need to understand their customers’ perceptions of the brand and design a strategy based on it.
Test your design and Manage your CX strategy
Another important step is to test your CX strategy design consistently. Customer interactions are unique, spread across a lifecycle, span across different touch-points and grow over a period of time. So you need to get down to specifics and measure the relevant metrics. A common approach to measuring customer experience, as mentioned by Manning, is the CX Evolution Path.
Companies examine the lifecycle of a CX: locate a problem, identify the source of that problem and fix it. Although this approach may seem like a “whack-a-mole” strategy, it ensures that the sources of various customer experience problems are resolved. This approach can also help save dollars by reducing redundancies in the customer experience lifecycle.
Recognize the Backend Processes that enable a CX strategy
Customer experience is dictated by a multitude of factors, not just customer touch points. A good CX strategy identifies the various business units that play a role and understands their function in the successful execution of the overall strategy. Companies need to identify employees that play a key role within a company and provide them with the necessary tools to provide consistent, positive customer interactions. Companies should also ensure that internal communications promote a consistent brand identity to employees. If employees understand a brand’s attributes, then they can articulate them to customers.
Define the role of technology in your CX strategy
With the advent of technology, companies are more inclined to use new technology to help promote their CX strategy. However, CX technology should be used to aid CX management and not serve as a replacement to your strategy. The IT units of a company should understand the CX strategy that is in place now and in the future, in order to develop technology that aids the company. Technology should better position the company to support customers and their changing needs. As Manning states, IT needs to be more agile and should not contain long life-cycles.
So what should companies do to deliver a consistently strong customer experience?
An answer to this can be found in this article where Colin Shaw discusses innovation around the Airline Boarding process. Airlines like many other companies have an internal focus on efficiency, but their focus should be on the customers. In order to improve customer experiences, companies need to understand the customers’ needs, their perception of the brand, and the various avenues through which they interact with the brand. If companies can break down customer experience into these manageable parts then they can define it and execute a strategy that improves a customer’s perception of their brand.
For more tips on how to improve customer experience please click here.
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