An effective customer experience strategy is both an art and a science. With the global pandemic revealing weaknesses in many customer experience strategies, companies will need more of both to engage with customers across all channels. Here are 10 guiding principles to consider as you embark on your customer experience improvement journey:
- Customer experience is personal. It is the aggregate of a person’s perceptions, feelings, memories, and associations around his or her engagement with a brand. We cannot make an experience—we can only try to understand needs and afford customers the chance to engage.
- Customer experience is complex and unpredictable. The explosion in digital channels has resulted in people seeing the totality of how a brand intersects with the world around it, including its ethics and values. Every facet of a company’s operations now needs to be understood from the customer’s point of view—it’s all on display.
- Customer journeys usually start before they engage with you, and end long after. They include interactions with digital media, social interactions, word of mouth, service interactions—the works. Mapping customer journeys across channels is the key to understanding how customer experiences can be enabled, orchestrated, and optimized.
- You must apply “journey thinking”. Every touchpoint designed into a website, app, retail interior, hospital, office, store fixture, airport, hotel, smartphone or table setting is put there to enable certain interactions, carry certain messages, and pattern certain behaviors. When companies focus too strongly on touchpoints, the bias is toward the operational aspects of the experience—not what the customer is actually thinking, feeling, saying, doing, or spending.
- There is no such thing as an “offline” customer. Whatever industry you are in, you can be sure that your customer can be present in several channels, often at once—comparing you to your competition and learning about what others say about you.
- Moments matter. When customers have so many options available simultaneously, they are constantly faced with the choice of sticking with your company—or not. When assessing journeys, uncover the “moments that matter” and address them first. Your competitors are always a click away.
- Happy customers spend more and tell their friends. Companies are seeing an enormous upside in revenue—sometimes in the billions of dollars—by framing their products, services, and systems around the customer’s experience.
- The impact of improving customer experience can be massive. In our projects, we have seen increased revenue, improved brand perception and trust, higher likelihood to recommend, improved satisfaction scores, increased retention, and simplified operations by taking a customer-centric view.
- Give up the illusion of control. Many managers believe that experience should be “staged” around a theme to “surprise” and “delight” the customer at each step of the journey—but attempting to make this happen in the real world can feel cumbersome and contrived, creating a brand perception that is fake, insincere, and inauthentic.
- Consider the Peak-End Rule. Cognitive research into how we remember and grade experiences shows that we tend to recall the most intense moments, and how our experiences end. When crafting or improving customer experiences, focus closely on peak moments—good and bad—and make sure you save the best for last!
Managing Director - Head of CX Acceleration