The Guiding Principles of Your Customer Experience

Everybody has a customer experience. RadioShack has a customer experience, United Airlines has a customer experience, and your local grocery store has a customer experience. You don’t need a customer experience to solve your business problems; you need an intentional customer experience. Because here’s the thing – a great customer experience doesn’t just happen. Just like a great meal doesn’t just happen, or a great play, or a great party – creating a great customer experience takes time, thought, and effort. To be great you must be intentional in your actions. Defining your Guiding Principles is the first step in creating a deliberate customer experience.

What are Guiding Principles?

Guiding Principles are the pillars that guide all actions and investments relating to the customer experience. Think of it this way, your brand makes the promise; your customer experience delivers the promise. Your Guiding Principles are the basic support structure that ensures your experience can and will deliver on that promise. Your Guiding Principles are not:

  • A list of initiatives and to-do’s
  • Your customer experience vision
  • Your customer experience priorities

A good set of Guiding Principles will become the lens through which all future business decisions are evaluated. When someone needs budget, or you are deciding what features to add to a new product, or your company is about to purchase new technology, or you are designing your compensation structure – your Guiding Principles will be the criteria against which these are evaluated.

What makes a good Guiding Principle?

  • Start with a verb: Your Guiding Principles aren’t statements, they are action-oriented
  • Distinction: Keep your Principles simple and distinct from each other
  • Emotional: Guiding Principles should address how you want your customers to feel
  • Cross-Channel: A good Guiding Principle will apply regardless of the channel being used
  • Differentiated: Your Guiding Principles should be bold enough that they will lead to decisions that will make you noticeably different from others in your space
  • Relevant at all levels: Front-line associates and senior level executives alike will be able to derive value from the Guiding Principles

How to put Guiding Principles in action?

Developing the Guiding Principles isn’t just an exercise to complete. These principles are a tool that business leaders who may not be directly involved in the day-to-day customer experience work can still use to guide decisions in their department. For that reason, it’s important to test the guiding principles before committing to them. The best way to test these (without trial and error alone) is to ask yourself this question: “What does this mean for how our customers experience us?” If the answer is measurable and meaningful then you have a Guiding Principle. If you can’t think of a way that you’re Principle would impact the customer experience, then you likely just have some marketing speak.

Guiding Principles are your first step in creating a customer experience that is memorably different. They ensure that you don’t become another also-ran in the customer experience game, but rather that you deliver something unique that your customers value and rave about.

Photo credit: Ian Sane / Foter.com / CC BY

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