Creating a customer experience strategy

Over the coming years, the customer experience is set to be a differentiator between businesses who thrive and those who just survive, with 59 per cent of people noting they will care more about the customer experience in a post-COVID world.

That makes a focus on the customer experience a priority for many businesses, but how do you create a strategy that allows for products and services that delight your consumer?

Here’s a brief guide to creating a customer experience strategy…

What is the customer experience?

The customer experience extends far beyond just customer service. It is every encounter a consumer has with your business as part of their journey.

To clarify, the customer journey includes all the touchpoints someone has with your business on the path to purchasing and even beyond.

Customer service is just one touchpoint on this journey, while the experience is how they feel about a business during each and every interaction with it.

Or as Harvard Business Review explains: “Customer experience encompasses every aspect of a company’s offering—the quality of customer care, of course, but also advertising, packaging, product and service features, ease of use, and reliability”. 

That experience then becomes the basis of the loyalty and affinity your customer has with your brand.

So how do you create a strategy to really hone in and ensure that experience delivers on behalf of your business?

Know your customer

The first step to creating a customer experience strategy is to know your customer. Who are they? What hobbies do they have? Where are they located? What are their values?

To crystalise this you can create customer personas (customer profiles) that personify your customer, including their age, habits, etc. 

Have clear goals

Once you know your customer, it’s important to create clear goals and principles that define the quality of the experience your business intends to deliver them.

These goals and principles should be shared with your staff in two ways:

  • Statements that define your values (what the customer should expect every time they deal with your business).
  • Measurable performance indicators such as net promoter scores so staff can gauge whether they’re living up to those expectations.

Connect with your customer

Experience is about emotion, so consider how you connect with your customer. What do you do or offer that meets their emotional needs or desires?

It’s important to note, this isn’t just about the products that you offer and the needs they meet, but how you make your customers feel when they interact with your business in general.

Loyalty is engendered by the way you make people feel, so you should be tailoring each part of the customer journey to create a real and memorable connection.

Seek feedback in real-time

Seek feedback in real-time

To understand whether you are meeting the customer’s needs, you should be measuring their experience  – preferably in real-time.

This allows you to understand whether your business is offering connected moments, and to instantly rectify things if something goes awry.

Close the loop

When you know your customer, your business’ experience goals, and how the customer feels about their experience with you, it’s time to close the loop, looking at gaps between the expectation and the actual experience.

These gaps are addressed by ascertaining exactly what went wrong, and implementing strategies or policies to fix any problems.

Engage your employees

As the people at the front line of providing a great customer experience, your staff should be engaged throughout the strategy creation process.

Critically, you should also be seeking their feedback to understand the things they need to create a positive and memorable experience for your customer.

Measure the effects

Measure the effects

Once you’ve implemented your customer experience strategy, it’s time to measure the effects, and you should be doing this consistently through customer feedback and net promoter scores.

The likelihood is your strategy will need to evolve over time, just as your customer will also change and their expectation of what constitutes a positive experience will shift.