How to build an effective Customer Experience Strategy (CX) in 2023
Building a customer experience strategy is one of the most important steps a business can take to establish and strengthen its brand. A good strategy can help you build customer loyalty, create a positive impression of your brand, increase sales and improve customer retention.
But what is a customer experience strategy? And how do you go about creating one?
In this post, we'll look at why it is essential to develop a strategy for customer experience (CX), and how to go about building one.
Why focus on customer experience?
Today's customers expect businesses to provide a seamless, consistent and entirely digital experience at every stage of their journey. In order to meet these expectations, you need to put the customer at the centre of everything you do.
A good experience helps to create a positive impression of your company, leading to increased sales and higher customer retention rates. So it's essential to get this right.
What is customer experience strategy
Customer experience strategy is the first step in creating an experience that better meets the needs of your customers. It helps you identify the most important aspects of their journey, such as their expectations and requirements, and then discover how to meet them. It also helps you identify gaps in your current offering and opportunities for improvement.
So when we talk about improving customer experience, what exactly are we trying to improve? Well, as a CMO or marketing leader, there are probably three main areas where improvements can be made: Your product or service; Your marketing strategy; and finally (and perhaps most importantly), Your approach toward communicating with customers.
Time to get started.
How to build a customer experience strategy
In order to successfully improve the customer experience, CMO's and marketing teams need to focus on the following six steps:
- Understand the customer needs
- Map the customer journey
- Identify experience gaps & opportunities
- Score and rank each opportunity
- Define your customer experience vision (a north star)
- Build a customer experience roadmap to get there.
Here's a breakdown of the steps to take.
Step 1. Understand customer needs
Having a clear understanding of your audience, their objectives and their needs is essential.
The first step is to make sure you have up-to-date versions of your buyer personas. Each of your target audiences should be represented by a buyer persona, and their motivations, needs and influence on the buying decision should be established and written down.
These personas can be created by interviewing customers, prospects and others who represent your target market.
For example, a component manufacturer might have buyer personas that include 'specifiers' (who advise on component selection) as well as 'OEMs' (original equipment manufacturers) and 'processors' (who are including those components into their own products).
Each of these personas has distinct and different needs. The specifier would be interested primarily in component properties and case studies for similar applications, whereas the OEM would be more interested in distribution and security of supply. Both personas influence the buying decision.
Step 2. Map the customer journey
Customer journey mapping is the process of identifying all the touchpoints between your business and customers, and then examining how well those touchpoints are working.
The first step in customer journey mapping is to identify all of the touchpoints (website, mobile app, retail locations, support channels) where your business interacts with customers.
Then, for each customer persona, map out the entire journey from start to finish—across all relevant touchpoints and over time. You can use tools, such as Google Slides, PowerPoint or Visio to draw out a map that outlines your customer's entire experience from start to finish.
You should get granular with this step by looking at each touchpoint (e.g. first visit to the website) and consider the scenarios in which a user might arrive at that point (e.g. what are they doing before they click to visit your site, why are they visiting).
You should also describe what information or tools each person needs at that stage. Think about what the person wants at each stage of the journey, what are they thinking, what do they there to find, what do they need to do. You should also define how each touchpoint will operate under various circumstances (for example, if a customer calls instead of using the website).
For instance, a prospective student researching a course would want to know the qualifications required for admission, where and when the course runs, and the benefits of studying at that institution.
The key to remember is that each persona has their journey and their own experience.
Step 3. Identify experience gaps & opportunities
Now, review your journey map against the experience that you currently provide.
Identify the pain points and ‘experience gaps’ (the roadblocks) that negatively impact customer perceptions today, and identify the opportunities where the experience can be improved.
For example, a component manufacturer might identify the need to provide 'researchers' with more detailed product information, technical datasheets, processing guides, supporting FAQs as well as product comparison tools.
It’s important here not just to think about incremental improvements, but also radical ones that may require significant investment or substantial changes in how we do things today.
As an example, many fast food restaurants have historically struggled with long queues at cash registers, leading to the introduction of new in-store ordering kiosks and "click and collect" services.
Step 4. Score & rank the opportunities
Evaluate and score each potential opportunity by both the value to the customer, as well as how easy or difficult it will be to implement. A simple 1 to 5 rating is usually adequate at this stage.
Ideally, you should also capture the relevant importance according to business goals as well as a description of what needs to be done, who will do it and when.
You might need to consider multiple solutions for each gap or opportunity. In some situations, it might be better to settle for a partial solution rather than put in the effort required to solve the problem entirely.
The goal of this process is to make sure that we’re addressing each gap or opportunity as effectively as possible. This can be done by considering the following questions:
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- Do similar experience gaps exist elsewhere? In other industries?
- What solutions have they tried and how well did they work out?
- Could we better address the need ?
This can help identify which solutions will work best for each gap, especially if there are several possibilities.
Step 5. Define your customer experience vision
Based on the steps above, you should now set out a vision of what you want the resulting customer experience to be. This defines your "north star" as well as the rationale, the steps, capabilities and changes you need to make to get there.
Creating an experience vision is an important step in creating a successful customer experience. The experience vision sets out how you want your customers to feel when interacting with your brand or product.
Use this as a guiding light when making decisions that impact the customer experience.
You should include
Your brand values. The first step in creating an experience vision is to identify the core values of your brand. What do you want to stand for? What’s important to your brand and how do you want customers to feel when they interact with your products or services?
A summary of customer needs. It’s important to include your customers’ wants and needs when creating an experience vision. What kind of experience do they expect when interacting with your brand? Do they prefer speed, convenience, or personalized service? Understanding your customers will help you create an experience vision that meets their expectations.
Goals and objectives. The experience vision should include both short-term and long-term goals and objectives. Based on opportunities you identified and prioritized above, think about the objectives you want to achieve in the next three months, six months, and one year.
Experience Blueprint. Once you have identified your brand values, customers needs, and set goals, you should set out examples of what good looks like. This could be in the form of sketches, wireframes or a swipe file. Essentially anything that will help you communicate to internal stakeholders what you are looking to achieve as a result.
Step 6. Build your roadmap
Creating an experience roadmap is a great way to align your team, stakeholders and even communicate to customers about what’s coming next.
It sets out what you are trying to achieve, why it is important and how you intend to get there. It also discusses dependencies, and how progress will be tracked and measured.
When creating an experience roadmap, there are a few steps to keep in mind:
Define your priorities – Start by defining your customer experience goals and priorities. This will help set the tone for the rest of your roadmap and ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page.
Identify milestones – Set out the key milestones, as well as the steps and dependencies you need to reach to achieve those goals. This will serve as the foundation for your roadmap.
Establish the timeline – Establishing a timeline for your milestones is essential for making sure that everyone stays on track. This will also help you prioritize tasks and allocate resources efficiently.
Measure progress – Set out how you will track progress and measure improvements as the project progresses. This is key to making sure that your roadmap is being followed and that you are making progress towards meeting your goals. Make sure to track progress regularly and adjust your roadmap as needed.
Customer experience strategy is a way to improve your customer satisfaction, increase your customer loyalty and build trust with your customers.
A good example of the above would be the CX strategy work we did for global polymer manufacturer Victrex. Our research uncovered the need for the website 'to act as a resource' with a vastly improved search, easier access to technical datasheets, processing guides, technical FAQs as well as grade comparison tools.
If you want to create a customer experience strategy that will help you grow your business, then we recommend getting in touch.