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How to Design a Customer Experience Strategy

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Your boss wants you to retain more. Your coworkers want you to do more. Your customers want you to care more.

So what's your game plan?

If you don't have one, don't panic. While being able to deliver more of everything might not sound feasible given you current workload -- you have customer to support, after all -- it's much easier to do when you have a clear customer experience strategy in place.

At its core, a customer experience strategy serves as a framework you can lean on to ensure quality when the demand for quantity doesn't seem to be letting up.

What Is a Customer Experience Strategy?

If customer experience (CX) refers to the sum of every interaction a customer has with a business, both pre- and post-sale, the customer experience strategy defines the actionable plans in place to deliver a positive, meaningful experience across those interactions.

A successful customer experience strategy should take into account a number of important factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Competitive insight
  • Consumer research
  • Marketplace data
  • Mission & vision

When defining your customer experience strategy, you want to ensure that you're including all departments, not just the folks in customer-facing roles. By incorporating feedback and insight across the company, you'll find it's easier to align the organization around the intended goal: improving the customer experience and relationship.

How to Define a Customer Experience Strategy

According to Customer Strategist Journal, there are six key areas of the digital customer experience:

  1. Reachability: What channels is your business active on? How are these channels being used?
  2. Service convenience: Can customers self-serve? What types of channels are being used to provide service?
  3. Purchase convenience: Is there friction in the purchase process?
  4. Personalization: How well does your business meet/cater to individual customer needs?
  5. Simplicity and ease of use: Are service/informational channels optimized for mobile? Is the customer journey bogged down or straightforward?
  6. Channel flexibility: Is context about the customer being used and applied across all channels? Is there a history of behavior, transactions, and conversations across touch points available for each customer?

In an effort to help you define a comprehensive, cohesive customer experience strategy, let's explore how to define and continuously improve these six areas.

1) Reachability

Business communication plays a big part in shaping your customers' experience. If you're not meeting customers where they are, you're missing out on an opportunity to engage them when they are most interested or in need of help.

Succeeding in this area of customer experience means your business must first determine which channels your customers are most active on so you can adapt your approach and serve them there.

From there, it's important to familiarize yourself with the channel -- whether it be social, email, live chat, or something similar. Ask yourself: How are our customers communicating on this channel already? And how can we use this information to make our outreach feel more native?

Reachability can serve as a helpful competitive advantage if you execute it properly, so it's important that your business has a handle on your customers' preferred channels, and are providing reliable, consistent service through them.

2) Service Convenience

As customers become more empowered to discover solutions and information on their own via the internet and social media, the demand for increased service convenience grows. For businesses to remain in good standing with customers, they must prioritize start-to-finish online support.

Think about it: If a customer has a question on the weekend, do they have to wait until Monday to reach out? Or do you have a 24/7 live chat feature enabled to meet their Saturday needs?

Something as simple as having a polished, up-to-date knowledge base on you website is a best practice that provides customers with the ability to service themselves without having to reach out for help.

3) Purchase Convenience

Nordstrom -- a luxury department store known for its impeccable service -- recently launched a new customer experience tool aimed at improving purchasing convenience.

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Image Credit: Forbes

"The premise, which is built around making it easier for customers to shop in the way that they want to, enables app users to select items they like, then book to have them set in a fitting room for them in the store of their choice, ready to try on in person," explains fashion and business writer, Rachel Arthur.

This new system solves for convenience by allowing customers to try on clothes when and where it's convenient for them. It also gets people in the store, exposing them to thousands of other products they might be interested in purchasing.

But this is just one example of how your brand can leverage and invest in purchasing convenience as part of a customer experience strategy. Something as simple as having accurate pricing and packaging information on your website can effectively eliminate purchasing friction.

At the end of the day, you don't want to make it difficult for people to give you their money.

4) Personalization

Another thing Nordstrom is using its new customer experience tool for? Data.

By learning about location and style preferences through the Nordstrom Reserve Online & Try On In-Store program, the retailer is able to incorporate personalization in a scalable way.

In an effort to provide the best possible customer experience, businesses should collect information throughout the customer relationship that can be used to provide relevant suggestions or more informed support in the future.

In the eyes of the customer, personalization (when done right) can serve as a sign of respect for their loyalty and business. It also signals that your business is interested in strengthening the relationship by continuously working to provide better service, suggestions, support, etc.

While there are many avenues for collecting and leveraging customer data, something as simple as a shared inbox for your customer success or service department serves as a great first step. By creating a transparent, universal space where folks can turn up passed customer conversations or requests, you're laying the foundation for more contextual communication and outreach.

5) Simplicity & Ease of Use

Ever land on a website that was a disaster to navigate on mobile? We're willing to be you didn't stick around for very long.

Back in 2015, mobile internet use passed out desktop use for the very first time. Since then, mobile usage continues to grow, making mobile optimization a high priority for businesses looking to provide a simple and seamless experience for customers and potential buyers.

In an effort to amp up your businesses' ease of use, you'll want to focus on simplifying website navigation for all browsing types. After all, you can't expect customers to wait until they get to a desktop to uncover the information they need, right?

A great example to reference here is Amazon. Amazon embodies simplicity and ease of use in their checkout process by enabling Amazon Prime members to buy an item with just one click:

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What's more, it also offers a quick and easy way to uncover product info and answers to common purchasing questions within the same screen:

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6) Channel Flexibility

When thinking about your approach to channel flexibility, keep the term omni-channel in mind.

If you're unfamiliar with the term, onmi-channel is defined as an approach that provides customers with an integrated, seamless experience -- even when moving from desktop to mobile or social media channel to live support.

In an omni-channel world, the customer experience should be the same across platforms and channels -- and it should contain proper context when applicable.

"For true omni-channel success, there must be a 360-degree view of customer interactions across all channels (digital and traditional) to monitor channel preference, usage, and customer journeys from the customer perspective," explain the folks at TeleTech, a customer experience management solution.

If you're looking to streamline channel flexibility as a key part of your customer experience strategy, get your team together to talk about what you want the customer experience to look, feel, and sound like across channels. From there, you'll have the common ground you need to begin employing a more fluid, contextual overall experience.

Customer Experience Development Is a Long-Term Play

Rome wasn't built in a day -- and you shouldn't expect your customer experience strategy to be either.

Our advice? Work on defining and streamlining the six key areas above, but do so under the notion that things are subject to change.

As you learn about what it means to communicate with customers on their terms, and collect data along the way, you'll find it's easier to make informed decisions about your overall customer experience strategy.

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