Material has helped clients avoid roadblocks and create successful customer experience strategies for several decades, so we’ve had plenty of opportunities to observe what works and what doesn’t. In this post — the first in a 5-part series highlighting effective ways to inspire your employees to deliver a great customer experience across touchpoints — we’ll explore how to thoughtfully execute your CX strategy and lay the groundwork for a compelling customer experience transformation. Let’s dig in.
Deliver a standout customer experience to grow customer relationships
Customer experience (CX) is how your organization is perceived based on the sum total of its customer interactions — and that means it involves more than just great customer support. Every aspect of your customer experience, from the digital solutions and automation you deploy to the quality and functionality of your products and services will impact the ways your brand is perceived. These perceptions drive customer satisfaction and nurture consumer behaviors that have enormous business impact — including customer engagement, spend, and advocacy, as well as customer loyalty and retention — making CX one of the most critical challenges that organizations face today.
To design and deliver a winning customer experience, you need to understand both the needs and perceptions of your customers, as well as the challenges of your employees in embracing and executing the desired CX. To successfully deliver customer-centric experiences, there are 5 best practices you should follow:
1. Define your customer experience strategy within your larger business strategy
When launching any new customer experience initiative (or strengthening existing ones), it’s key to first align on how CX fits into your larger business strategy. Improving CX shouldn’t be a standalone goal, but instead must include broader business objectives, such as customer retention or wallet share. If your organization is non-profit, mission-focused objectives such as medical treatment efficacy or the social impact of non-profit work might be more important to highlight.
Whatever your overarching objective, it’s important to effectively communicate to your stakeholders what customer experience stands for in your organization and identify the right KPIs to measure success. Employee buy-in is required if you hope to go beyond eliminating pain points and truly exceed customer expectations — after all, your employees are those on the front lines. Meaningful collaboration with these stakeholders will be critical.
2. Understand your organization’s history
You’re not starting with a blank slate, of course, so in order to understand the best path forward, you’ll need to go beyond a general understanding of your organization and dig deep into your stakeholders’ current perceptions and experiences. This is where insights can prove useful. Many companies have ways of capturing customer feedback and real-time data, but do not necessarily know how to interpret actionable insights from them. This is where a CX consulting partner with strong insights capabilities can be a game-changer.
We’ve observed that internal teams often overestimate their institutional knowledge, so revamping your customer experience strategy will reveal any knowledge gaps and allow you to close them. Change can be scary, however, and you don’t want employees to feel that their work to date has fallen short. To motivate your team and get them excited about new initiatives, sit down with key team members, highlight previous successes, and communicate your appreciation for past work. You’re much less likely to encounter resistance when everyone feels heard and valued.
3. Identify barriers to customer experience transformation
As you’re talking with stakeholders, reviewing past work, and examining your customer insights, pay attention to both the successes and frustrations that emerge in the discussion. You might be surprised to learn that the most insidious barriers to change are the “cynical voices” within your organization. For example, a team might equate customer experience with another major initiative that failed in the past: “Oh man, this sounds like HR transformation all over again.” Or perhaps employees feel strongly that nothing more needs to be done: “We’re bending over backwards for customers already!” Or it could be an expression of strategy fatigue: “This is our third corporate strategy in two years. I’ll just wait it out.” Whatever form it takes, cynicism will kill your customer experience strategy, so addressing it early is important.
At Material, we take a proactive approach to addressing challenges in your experience transformation. We apply our customer experience expertise to your business goals to understand the state of your CX and align your team around a practical roadmap to accelerate success. We engage your executives and employees in designing the ideal experience at every interaction in the customer journey, from awareness and onboarding to usage and support. We then help you activate your CX transformation with services like Employee Education, Internal Communications, CX Measurement, and CX Governance.
4. Align your organization to actively support the journey ahead
We recommend a dedicated management team alignment meeting to officially kick off any new initiatives. You can use this session to:
- Establish a baseline understanding and common language around customer experience,
- Acknowledge the past and demonstrate that you appreciate the context in which you’re operating,
- Make sure key players understand the path forward and what’s expected from them at each step.
We also encourage you to wrap up alignment meetings with a formal confirmation of support (either written or verbal) to cement stakeholder buy-in.
To build the internal knowledge and skills needed to drive CX within your organization, we also recommend and provide both off-the-shelf and tailored customer experience training for employees, business leaders, and CX practitioners, ensuring everyone remains on the same page throughout this optimization process.
5. Bring your customer experience goals to life
Even the best CX strategy development or customer journey mapping workshop won’t be successful without organizational alignment and a shared vision for the future. Your CX strategy must start five steps ahead with clearly defined goals, a solid understanding of the past, a keen eye for barriers, and an explicitly aligned management team.
Looking for a partner to drive your entire CX transformation journey? Material offers a full range of customer experience consulting services. Our proven methodology delivers end-to-end support to guide you from the first mile of CX research and strategy all the way through the last mile of employee activation and sustainability. Our CX consultants can help you establish a competitive advantage that differentiates your organization in the market and drive profitable customer behaviors. Whether you need guidance and strategy to chart a winning path forward, execution support on specific CX activities, or hands-on partnership throughout an entire CX transformation journey, we are here to help.
In our next blog in this series, we’ll explore how you can use research to understand the current state of CX in your organization.