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Building Better Customer Experiences

Customer Experiences are More than a Great Idea

Leading business and marketing leaders are talking about customer experiences and how to improve them for new competitive advantage, to attract new customers and to retain existing customers.

Yet many efforts seem to fall short of the objective. Why is this?

We have learned many lessons across numerous clients that point to a number of issues to consider when seeking to deliver a great customer experience (CX).

Overcome eight common mistakes to build a better customer experience.

A. Viewing CX as a “Thing to Do” vs. a Value to Deliver—

Businesses tend to view CX as a marketing activity, a user interface, integration of social media, or a buzzword to deal with. Successful CX leaders view CX as key to achievement of strategic objectives, as a driver to revenue growth and customer satisfaction, and as a “secret weapon” in attracting new customer and increasing loyalty. Leaders view CX as a core and value-building component to their business instead of a, perhaps, superficial or insignificant effort.

Putting CX at the heart of the business, driving everything from culture to product delivery and customer support enables the business in ways that ensure you stand out and lead within your industry, with your customers and your employees.

B. Tackling CX in a “Stovepipe” Manner—

We often see well-intentioned  leaders declare CX as a strategic initiative within their business. Leaving the execution, however, to each individual division or smaller organization as they deem appropriate. With the result being an unintegrated and poorly executed CX effort that delivers small and incremental change and a substantially diminished end result.

Thoughful business and marketing leaders recognize that CX is a strategic initiative that requires synchronized adoption, adaptation and delivery. They manage CX from the top down, harnessing the power of their entire organization, to conform every area of the business to deliver the desired CX without functional or experience gaps.

CX leaders work hard to eliminate CX stovepiping by prioritizing efforts and resources toward those activities that deliver the best and most meaningful experiences, inside and outside the company, sequencing and delivering to CX objectives that grow the value of the business.

C. Failing to Take the Customer View—

This one should seem obvious. After all, the “C” in CX refers to the customer.

Many businesses take an “inside-out” approach to CX. The starting point being what the company does, taking a clinical or technical approach to CX, instead of what the customer desires to experience. Companies define their objectives by internally-driven “cutomer journeys” usually around solving discrete tactical issues.
Successful CX initiatives start with the customer and their expectations. Identification, categorization and prioritization of customer “pain points” should define any journey, as a starting point. However, the business can’t stop there. For each identified journey must also fit within the entire, overall business CX experience in order to build the brand and accelerate business value.

The starting point of any CX initiative must start with “why”. Why is the business seeking to improve their CX, what problems are being solved, and why should the marketplace or customers care? Defining the “why” allows a business to effectively map an “end-to-end” CX journey that encompasses the entire organization, leading to desired outcomes.

D. Developing a CX Without the Customer—

This may seem redundant to the last learning topic. It’s not.

It is often the case that CX intitiatives and development is undertaken, tested and rolled out without interaction with the very audiences that you’re creating the CX for! In a desire to save time and money, businesses create CXs in isolation from market or customer interaction or integration into the process.
CX leaders recognize this problem and strategically involve key customer and market stakeholders right from the start. They seed ideas and approaches with CX “advisory panels” to obtain early and important feedback so as to eliminate unnecessary CX elements and to double-down on important CX activities that achieve desired results. The most effective CX leaders keep customer advocates integrated and involved at every step, from identification, prioritization and testing to rollout and on-going marketing (by turning the customer CX advisors into advocates and evangelists).
Eliminate the “we know best” or “not invented here” internal thinking that eliminates critical customer involvement from the very start of any CX effort. Instead, welcome and integrate customers, market leaders and, perhaps, even key market influencers into your CX initiatives. The end result will be much better than you anticipated.

E. Leading with Scarcity Thinking—

You’ve noticed this. Early in business or career lifecycles ambition and hubris empower risk taking and creativity. However, as businesses mature or individuals advance in their careers they move from being opportunists to risk managers. Evolving from seeing strategies and activities through the lenses of “abundance” to, instead, viewing such through the lenses of “scarcity”.

As a result companies systemically struggle to identify bold and innovative approaches or solutions to CX, bringing exceptional creativity to the process and culture. Typical responses to new ideas and approaches tend to be around “it’ll never be funded” or, “we’ve tried that before” or, “that’s not how things are done around here” or, “we know how to do it”. Each response stiffling creativity and improvement from within and without the company.
Delivering the best CX possible is not an exercise in safe or incremental improvement. The best CX-driven companies are on their own journey of continuous transformation by encouraging creativity from all sources, testing at every turn, and capitalizing the best ideas through additional investment in time, money and resource.

Markets and customers are CX experienced, with very high expectations. Businesses that don’t deliver to that standard are abandoned as customers shift their attention and spend to where they can get the best experiences, rewarding leading CXs with loyalty and additional purchases.

E. Thinking CX is  “Marketing Thing”—

We’ve covered this point before in a prior blog post. But is it worth repeating.

Markets and customers desire a consistent, integrated and value building experience with every interaction they have with your company. Any CX gaps that cause a diminishment of overall CX will be rewarded by customer defection and lowered spend with you.

CX is not a “marketing thing”. CX is not a B2C, consumer-oriented thing. CX is the entire experience that the market or customer has across your entire business—whether you’re a B2C or B2B or B2B2C company.

CX starts with the business mission, vision and values. It works its way through product and/or service development, marketing, sales and value delivery systems. Ending in product or service support experiences that bolster the entire CX for additional loyalty and increased spend with you

Businesses that view CX as a “marketing thing” only fall short of what the market and customers expect and, along the way, create problems by setting expectations that the business can’t deliver to—basically, “writing customer experience checks that the company can’t cash”.

Always view CX in its proper light. As an entire company effort that drives value to the market and customer as a mechanism to drive accelerated business value to your company.

F. Defining the Customer Incorrectly—

We often find that businesses view customers and their CX initiatives through very narrow lenses. That is, genrally, only those that can “place an order” with the company. This is wrong.

CX leaders recognize that a business has many constituencies, or stakeholders, that must be included in any  customer experience effort. Leaders build industry-leading CXs that cover:
  • Internal Audiences: To promote excitement and enthusiasm for the business; to encourage innovation and risk taking; and, to turn employees into “evangelists” to markets, customers and potential new recruits.
  • Markets: Promoting unique and economic value experiences that attract attention, provide competitive differentiation and drive new consideration and adoption of products and services.
  • Individual Customers: Using CXs as a gateway to new pipeline and sales; turning customers into “evangelists” for customer spend capture and referral to other potential customers.
  • Analyst Communities: Delivering a great CX that influences their perception and value assessment of your business; to drive support for recommendation to other businesses; to garner support and inclusion in white papers, reports and industry events.
  • Investor Communities: Demonstrating superior value through great CXs that attract attention, evaluation, support and invesment into the business; differentiating and delivering superior CXs that increase the value of your business for when it is time to sell, merge, acquire or move into other equity-related actions.

G. Leaving CX as a Strategic Initiative—

Successful CX pervades the entire business. It becomes the “oxygen” to how business is conducted, from strategy through execution, including culture and prioritization of day-to-day activities.

As this is the case, CX cannot remain only a strategic initiative. It must be cross-functional, at every level, and integrated in everthing the business is about.

As a result it is important to view and integrate CX beyond those that touch the customer to include everyone in the company. To do otherwise creates CX gaps within the company that will affect the external CX.

CX leaders operationalize customer journeys everywhere inside and outside the company. They create and deliver CX training, resource materials, processes, goals/objectives, success metrics and measured KPIs that are across the entire company. Leaders champion CX through a steady “drum beat” that is heard across the company, encouraging everyone to engage and express the CX in everything they do in their role and job responsibilities.


In the end you get to decide what your CX will be and how it will perform. Based on what you now know, what changes to you need to consider in the approach, development, rollout and continuous improvement of your company’s CX?

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