Editor’s note: Recently we brought you the first part of our 7 part series “Customer Experience in a Business Discipline”. If you missed it, you can find it here.
Within this post, we briefly discuss the six key areas within Customer Experience Management: strategy, customer understanding, design, measurement, governance, and culture. Throughout the series, I will dive into each of these disciplines in greater depth. Without further delay, let’s examine the role of strategy in customer-centric organizations:
Customer Experience Management (CXM) is like any other business discipline: It achieves its objectives when it is supported with clear vision and actionable strategy. By thoughtfully crafting a CXM strategy, and applying it in a manner that aligns with overall corporate strategy, firms ensure that customer experiences are the result of deliberate decisions that support revenue goals, not the sum of random interactions which may jeopardize the long-run prospects of the firm. In this light, it is imperative that CXM executives:
- Align CXM strategy to overall corporate strategy.
- Employ a CXM strategy that is consistent with brand image.
- Ensure CXM strategy is clear and precise.
A divided firm is a firm headed for failure, and customer experience is no exception. A CXM strategy that is misaligned with a firm’s corporate strategy can be disastrous. For example, consider the fast food chain McDonald’s whose mission is to deliver food in a quick and cost effective manner. If McDonald’s made customers wait to be seated, had them order off a menu, and brought food and drinks sequentially, their customers would not only be confused but also displeased with their experience. This may lead to the customer choosing a competitor in the future. While this is an extreme example, it illustrates that a firm’s CXM strategy must go hand in hand with its overall corporate strategy and culture.
As evidenced from the example, it is important to align CXM strategy with the corporate strategy but it is just as imperative to align CXM strategy to a firm’s brand. How consumers perceive a firm and its brand should dictate how a firm crafts its CXM strategy. It also goes hand in hand with the earlier notion that a strategically unified company is in a better position to succeed than its competitors. In the book, Outside In by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine, it is noted that, “You need to be able to guide the activities and decision making of employees at every level of your organization so that they can deliver on your company’s brand promises.” Manning and Bodine not only support the notion that throughout the entire company there needs to be a unity in purpose, but also that it must extend to interactions with customers. Returning to our earlier example, we can equate buying from McDonald’s to purchasing a small sliver of happiness (Consider adding toys to happy meals and play grounds to restaurants). Like McDonald’s, firms with the defined CXM strategies are those which keep consistent with brand image and aim to please their consumers.
Finally a strong CXM strategy is clear and precise. While it may seem fairly obvious, it warrants evaluation. To create a transparent CXM strategy, the firm must determine the best way to communicate the plan to its employees. Firms must dispense the use of vague phrases and generalities when describing what types of experiences they want to impart on customers. This will ensure that all employees are on the same page and fully understand the strategic requirements.
In conclusion, the key components to crafting a CXM strategy are consistency and clarity. A defined strategy can have financial impacts as satisfied employees and customers typically translate to increased revenue and decreased expenses. Executing a strong CXM strategy is a company-wide effort. Using the principles defined above will aid the process and improve a firm’s ability to effectively manage customer experiences well into the future.
Our next edition of this series will dive into customer understanding. Stay tuned…
Ben Limegrover is a Consultant at SDLC Partners, a leading provider of business and technology solutions. Please feel free to contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions on this blog post or to further discuss Customer Experience Management.