Customer Experience Strategy: The Don’ts
JANUARY 20, 2023
Any brand that wants to optimize its CX, needs to first make a plan to do so. And to make a plan, you need a CX strategy that will serve as the right framework for bringing your CX vision to life, that will help your company systematically make decisions to consistently meet and exceed customer expectations.
CX strategies that don’t deliver the desired results are usually the ones missing defined details and clear direction and will most likely lead to a waste of precious time and effort. In other words, it’s hard for companies to bring their experience strategy to life. On the other hand, a well-defined CX strategy is a foundational, best-practice capability of customer experience leaders.
According to Forrester Research, a focus on CX is a must in the age of the customer. Most brands, however, are lagging as empowered customers are more willing than ever to try new brands and quickly discard others. It recommends making the business case for CX improvements to the C-suite executives with a focus on three key elements: urgency, impact, and direction.
But while urgency and impact are important, having thoughtful direction is just as important. If you’re a business leader looking to deliver a more seamless customer experience, here are the most common CX transformation strategy mistakes you should avoid.
- Let the “HiPPOs” lead the CX strategy. CX pros armed with customer insight must be ready to challenge directives from HiPPOs and advocate for projects that deliver the most impact to the customer and the business, as they are most likely to base their CX strategy on their gut and personal experience rather than the underlying data.
- Mixing customer satisfaction with customer experience Satisfaction is an end product. Like a batting average, it tells you how you did, but not how to swing and hit better,” write Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell, authors of Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight.
“Satisfaction is backward-looking. It doesn’t correlate to future behavior.”They recommend constructing a program to examine past, present, and potential ways to delight customers. It’s also important to identify specific customer pain points and fix them, as even little irritants can escalate, write Stewart and O’Connell. If you get these “make or break moments” right, you generate goodwill that fuels long-term relationships with customers.
- Lack of vision According to McKinsey, CX transformations require employees to change their mindsets and behaviors. The organization must make cultural changes and rewire itself across functions to put the voice of the customer top of its mind. Unfortunately, managers embark on CX transformation with no real vision and end up with vague targets because there’s an underlying fear of failure. “Great organizations instead spend significant time up front defining a clear, compelling, personal and ambitious aspiration, which doesn’t necessarily involve becoming a customer-experience leader,” write McKinsey’s Ewan Duncan, Kevin Neher, and Sarah Ray. “Depending on the context, it may make sense for a company to aim at having a best-in-class customer experience or to improve the baseline but not invest in a full transformation.”
- Focusing on too many things As with any endeavor, boiling the ocean by trying to transform everything at once is not the hallmark of a viable CX strategy. This leads to organizations spending significant time and money on things that ultimately don’t matter to customers. “Successful transformations tend to start with a rigorous attempt to identify those things that matter most to customers,” write Duncan, Neher, and Tucker-Ray. “Such efforts establish a clear understanding of where improvements in the customer experience can create value across the organization—financial returns, operational efficiencies, and improved employee engagement and outcomes,” McKinsey recommends measuring customer journeys instead of touchpoints and analyzing which journeys are most important for overall satisfaction. These methods enable companies to take a targeted, hypothesis-driven approach to CX transformation.
- Mistaking process automation as CX Throwing technology at a problem rarely works. One example, according to Gartner’s Greg Alvarez, is mobile apps, many of which are aimed at improving the experience but end up pushing people away. These apps rarely improve the customers’ lives. Often, these apps are deployed without answering key questions, such as what kind of experience the organization wants to deliver to customers.
Similarly, process automation “only works if it drives down costs for the customer or eases their lives.” If they don’t see it as valuable and it doesn’t change their experience, they’ll take their business elsewhere.
- Taking the “human” factor out of the equation Artificial intelligence and machine learning have the potential to improve CX but can easily end up in the category of throwing technology at the problem. Often, these technologies are mistaken for being a good substitute for human interaction. Instead of replacing people, organizations should use bots and AI to facilitate the human delivery of better CX. These could include helping with non-complex tasks to free up human agents to build relationships.
- Not listening to the employees Bad CX is a culture problem, not a technology problem, so ignoring the role of your workforce is a big mistake. Most companies are failing at this challenge, according to the data company Gallup, which found that only 31.5 percent of the U.S. workforce considers itself engaged in work. A growing body of research shows that an engaged workforce may be the key to better customer experience. As part of your CX strategy, you need to rethink the use of traditional employee engagement tactics and look for methods that allow for a two-way conversation with your team.
Leveraging strategy to win
CX leaders must ensure to avoid all those don’ts while making sure that their customer experience strategies do four things very well. First, they align with their business and brand strategies. Second, they articulate their strategies, defining the customer experiences they plan to deliver and to whom. Third, they guide how their people behave, and how their systems, processes, and activities enable them to deliver the experiences they wish. Fourth, and critically, their customer experience strategies inform the prioritization and use of resources, guiding the allocation of the resources to design and deliver the intended experience.
These companies recognize that it’s hard to be customer-centric without a plan—a defined strategy—to guide it. To build yours, engage broadly and collaborate with leaders and stakeholders across your organization. Be clear about whom you wish to serve and the types of experiences you plan to deliver. And be sure to avoid the common pitfalls other organizations have fallen into.
If you want to discover the best practices for a successful CX strategy read our blogpost Customer Experience Strategy: The Do’s