Customer experience is the new frontier –– while this concept has been shopped around for a few years, it really captured business minds in 2017. Influencers and marketing blogs alike are all over this topic, giving tips on how to enhance Customer Experience and theories on how CX “works”.
Beyond the buzz CX has been generating, studies prove that customers’ experience of your business is indeed worth a closer look. Gartner projects more than 50% of companies will increase investments in CX enhancement in 2018. This makes sense, given Deloitte reports “90% of customers trust peer references.” In today’s culture, consumers place emphasis on the now — they expect reviews, feedback, and results instantaneously. If they hear of a have a bad experience with a brand, they have no reservations in cutting ties with that company.
In short, companies should pursue the goal of incredible CX primarily for customer retention and customer satisfaction. There’s no doubt CX matters, but how should a company set out to conquer CX? And, more importantly, who in the company should be responsible for CX?
Does Marketing Own CX?
CX is all about what a customer does, feels, and thinks during his or her journey, and for most people that sounds like something that the marketing team is responsible for. Marketing also directly impacts CX as a consequence of ‘owning’ the four P’s (Product development, Pricing, Placement (Distribution) and Promotion).
Therefore, most organizations assign oversight of CX to the CMO. Thinking that marketing teams can sufficiently cover all the areas of the customer journey, companies are content to add the responsibility of CX to an already overwhelmed part of the business.
Though Marketing is all about surprising and delighting prospects and customers alike, there are many other stakeholders in the customer journey throughout any company. For instance, a CMO is likely not the best person to define what a salesperson’s relationship with the customer should look like. And isn’t customer service and support another major CX battlefield? Shouldn’t the CS team have a role in CX design as well?
CX Belongs to the Entire Organization
Questions arise because some make the mistake of thinking of CX as a business practice or a campaign. However, that is an oversimplification of the concept. In reality, good CX can transform a business, and should be something that is constantly top-of-mind for leaders. Ultimately, a well defined customer journey translates into greater ROI.
As a result, the effort falls onto the entire organization and permeates every team, process, and decision when working directly with a customer. Having a stronghold from the executive leadership should lead in CX design, implementation, and innovation. The commitment to CX should flow horizontally across the whole organization.
To ensure success as an organization, create a team that is structured and accountable to the company-wide goal of improved CX. Typically, a Chief of Customer Success or a Chief Operations Officer captain this initiative.
Regardless of the title, a leader needs a team filled with experts to drive results. This team should have the following members:
- Content Strategist – The better the content, the better a customer journey. The Content Strategist will should keep customers up to date on the product or service and helps customers trust your brand with the relevant information from your company that impacts them. Remember, the best content should inspire the customer to take action–that is, to continue buying or subscribing.
- Sales Expert – Insights into how sales and selling works is crucial in understanding what generates cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
- Customer Service – A CS teams interacts directly with customers all the time, and gains real time information on customer behavior. They have the longest experience in directly serving customers, which means they have developed an instinct for what the customer likes/dislikes.
- UX Designer – UX design is crucial, especially for businesses based on the web. Having a designer who creates an ergonomic yet beautiful interface(s) for customers to engage and enjoy using.
- Product Manager – A Product Manager may seem simple. Obviously, the Product Manager manages the product, but this role the is about ensuring the product meets the customers’ goals and needs. This means that the Product Manager can also help steer the CX team towards a metrics-based implementation of the CX design, as this person is well-versed and experienced in relating data to real action.
Team Effort for CX
Once the team is identified, it’s time to develop strategies to involve and improve the organization.
As a next best step, focus on the persona or profile of the customer. What’s their position in the company (if you’re in B2B)? What’s their interest in purchasing your service or product? Think of the customers’ characteristics, hobbies, activities, etc. The more detailed the persona, the easier it will be to conjure buyer scenarios.
Second, determine and construct the customer journey and define what each stage of the customer lifecycle will look like. The goal in this activity is to create the organization’s vision of the perfect journey. For each stage, plot out what should happen in the following five stages, which team(s) are involved, and whether or not those teams are customer-facing.
- Discovery – the prospect is searching for a product or service that can solve a specific problem or need
- Research – the prospect is learning more about the available products or services available to solve the problem
- Evaluation – the prospect chooses the best option
- Purchase – the prospect purchases the chosen product or service, and thus becomes a customer
- Advocacy – the customer continues using the product or service and recommends the product to others
Next, map out the touchpoints to gain insight into what motivates the target customer. Determine which prospects are receptive as there are many factors in making a purchase. For instance, an online retail store wants to know how its customer behaved while browsing the site, especially on a product page. When the data on buyer behavior during key interactions of the journey available, it allows mapping and gaining insight on the progression to the next touchpoint. It’s vital to recognize who is responsible for the interactions in each phase. When is it Marketing, Sales, or Customer Service? It is important to define the roles of business teams and make sure the transitions from one stage to the next in the journey is seamless for the customer and your organization. CX, which can seem abstract, becomes an attainable thing to create and measure in a business if an organization creates structure around touchpoints along the journey.
If done correctly, focusing on CX in operations will reduce costs and increase revenue. The creation of a transparent and visible feedback loop to generates unbiased and raw insights on CX–straight from the customers themselves.
One of the ways operations can enhance CX is by automating tedious and repetitive processes. Automation allows key stakeholders to focus on customer responses that directly impact the brand. In the past, many companies focusing on CX as a growth strategy were investing in platforms that help capture each stage in the customer journey, such as CRMs and Marketing Automation Platforms. These platforms have addressed the issue of data capture at the point of interaction, but many businesses struggle to marry the data between systems. Integrating these disparate systems allows for easily accessible customer information from different sources to be readily available. Imagine visibility into customer interactions — from marketing, to sales, and all the way to support — all in one place. If that real-time view of the customer is available across an organization, the customer journey is not only easier to map, but it is also easier to optimize.
Optimizing your CX for customer success and business growth is not a simple task; however, with the right leadership and perspective, these goals are attainable. As time goes on, customer experience is only becoming more mission critical to every business’ success. In 2018, companies can embrace this trend by making CX not only a business goal, but part of the intrinsic value they deliver to their customers.