What is customer experience strategy? A set of tactics or a program is often labeled "strategy", but let's not be fooled by semantics.
In Strategy: An Executive's Definition, an article by Booz Allen Hamilton, "strategy" is described as a shared definition among executives when they are creating, communicating, and implementing their choices on where to play and how to win, to maximize long-term value.
Let's use this definition to examine customer experience strategy.
Shared Definition: A shared definition minimizes likelihood of resistance and maximizes potential for collaboration. A shared vision integrates viewpoints and clarifies WIIFM (what's in it for me) across functional areas. And just as your body works as an indivisible systems, so does customer experience require your company to harmonize all functions. Is there a shared definition across executives of all functional areas in your company regarding customer experience?
When customer experience is a determinant of corporate strategy, companies tend to have stronger business results, according to the ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study. A larger percentage of companies view customer experience as a subset of corporate strategy, or unrelated to it. However, among the companies that realize their whole existence is in thanks to good customer experiences, and who treat their corporate strategy accordingly, holistic approaches to customer experience management are more likely, and return on investment is higher.
Creating, Communicating & Implementing: Co-creation of strategy is instrumental to buy-in and ongoing support. Communicating your customer experience strategy has no limits, as constant awareness is critical for company-wide implementation. Without full implementation, you're leaving money on the table. Is there company-wide co-creation, communication, and implementation of your customer experience strategy?
Choice on Where to Play: Informed decisions require analysis of what's going on in the business relative to what's important to customers, and capabilities/achievements that both customers and executives want to have in place in the future. Analysis of comments from customers and employees, in conjunction with operational data, is key to creating a shared understanding of the current landscape and making strategic choices about customer experience.
"Where to play" refers to prioritization of opportunities and issues to take you from current to desired state. Remember, we're talking about strategy here. Opportunities and issues at stake are about doing the whole job for your company's success. Choices about where to play in customer experience have implications for corporate objectives, organizational structure, employee trust and engagement, governance, communication, projects and programs. Has your company made informed choices about where to play in customer experience?
How to Win, to Maximize Long-term Value: A strategy specifies how you will know when you've won, and lays out the plan for how to get there. Mutual value for the company and customers in the long-term is the aim of customer experience in the first place.
Long-term value does not preclude immediate wins; it aims to achieve systematic wins that do not erode, but rather, maximize value to all over the course of the customer's relationship with the company and beyond. Value is gained by customers in heightened capabilities and minimized time, effort, worry, and costs. Value is gained by your company through customers' strategic inputs, extended buying, and word-of-mouth promotion, all of which may reduce your costs and increase your revenue.
Customer Experience Strategy Assessment: A sanity check of your game plan for customer experience is whether it covers all the essential building-blocks for customer experience return on investment (CX ROI). These building-blocks work sequentially, and in concert. Our research has shown that companies that are skipping a building-block, or putting the cart before the horse relative to the sequence shown, are struggling more to prove CX ROI.
This sequence is C5 + I2 + B2: customer-focused corporate strategy » customer-centered culture » customer voice » customer intelligence » customer lifetime value » improvement of customer experience » innovation of customer experience » branding internally » branding externally. These building-blocks are prerequisites to customer retention and loyalty, and accordingly, to lasting, strong business results associated with customer experience. Has your company created a roadmap to nurture maturity across the CX ROI building-blocks?
Stepping-stones within these building-blocks are recommended in our customer experience maturity assessment, on the basis of our research of CX practices and many years in our personal careers in leading customer experience efforts inside complex organizations, with 20-20 hindsight.
The stepping stones are prioritized by their typical impact on changes that customers will notice and respond to positively. This framework guides your deployment of the entire system simultaneously, with gradual increases in sophistication of all components over time.
Your Customer Experience Strategy: Make sure you establish widespread shared vision and engagement across your C-team for customer experience strategy. Avoid the tendency to label a program or technology a strategy! Align your corporate objectives, organizational structure, employee trust and engagement, governance, communication, projects and programs to achieve your shared vision. Define your CX ROI building-blocks roadmap to nurture maturity and mutual value in your company’s ongoing journey toward customer experience excellence.
This is the 2nd article in a 10-part series explaining each CX ROI building block. The 1st article was "Customer Experience Maturity Roadmap", and the full series can be accessed there.
Find the PDF whitepaper built from this article, on Slideshare, at "Customer Experience Strategy: Exploring the Success Factors".