Many companies dive into customer experience (CX) improvements without a customer-focused approach or informed strategy. CX requires a plan that isn’t just based on thinking about your customers but grounded in thinking like your customers.
Jenny Sussin, vice president at Gartner and CX program lead at the Gartner Application Strategies and Solutions Summit, looks at how organizations can take CX to the next level.
Q: Why is it so difficult for organizations to get their customer experience strategy right?
A: A superior CX is one of the few remaining means of sustainable competitive differentiation, and, as such, the CX strategy must be a focus for the whole organization, not just one department. This is a message that customer relationship management (CRM) leaders have struggled to get across for years.
In most organizations there are multiple independent technology and strategy investments across several marketing, customer service, digital commerce and sales departments which exist independently, and often in ignorance, of one another.
The first step in building a successful CX strategy has to be establishing what investments exist and where. Only when you have a handle on these can you work out how to reconcile the various technologies and strategies in a way which supports internal polices while also being in the best interests of the customer. This is an extremely complex balancing act and will require that CX stakeholders across the business continue to seek out solutions that can improve upon existing investments while keeping pace with new technology innovations.
Q: What types of CX projects should organizations prioritize?
A: Just as the CX strategy is unique to every organization, the priority weighting of individual CX projects will vary from company to company. CX stakeholders need to look at projects that are currently underway, which projects they want to achieve in a six month timeframe and which they want to develop over a longer three year period. A good place to start is with listening projects, where customer data and analytics are used to find the voice of the customer and identify where they are satisfied and dissatisfied
Ultimately, Gartner classifies CX projects into seven types that range from listening to customer feedback to re-defining processes and altering employee attitudes.
Q: How can CX stakeholders identify areas for improvement throughout the customer journey?
A: Today’s customer journey is a progressive one that spans buying, owning and advocating. So, if brands do the right thing in the buy and own stages, they earn customer advocacy in the longer term.
The critical first step in identifying areas for improvement throughout the customer journey is taking an outside-in approach. You need to look at the journey from the customer perspective rather than from the perspective of internal processes and policies. This may sounds like common sense, but it needs to be seen against a complex backdrop in which many organizations have become so absorbed by internal dysfunction that their customer journey maps have strayed from being customer-centric, and are actually company-centric.
It helps to start by identifying specific use cases for customers connecting with your organization – they’re having issues accessing their account, they need to make a return, they’re interested in one of your promotions, etc. Then map the customer journey through that use case, considering multiple channel scenarios and multiple emotional scenarios. Identify which scenarios your organization best serves today, and which scenarios need further investment.