5 Keys To Creating A Superior Customer Experience

Lead­ers must fun­da­men­tal­ly rebuild their orga­ni­za­tions around the cus­tomer to deliv­er supe­ri­or CX. Start with the­se high-reward lever­age points.

Leland Maschmeyer By Leland Maschmeyer from Collins. Join the discussion » 0 comments

There’s lit­tle debate that cus­tomer expe­ri­ence (CX) is the new growth engine for busi­ness­es. In fact, an astound­ing 97 per­cent of senior exec­u­tives con­sid­er it “crit­i­cal.” Of that group, 93 per­cent have made it a top three pri­or­i­ty. But unlike the brand, inno­va­tion, and dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tions that pre­ced­ed it, the bur­geon­ing CX rev­o­lu­tion is not a “bolt on” growth dri­ver.

Pour­ing mil­lions of dol­lars into expe­ri­en­tial trin­kets mat­ter lit­tle when com­pa­nies fum­ble the fun­da­men­tals. Got a new in-store VR app? Cool. But not cool enough to soothe your shopper’s frus­tra­tion that her favorite yogurt fla­vor is out of stock. Again. Great CX is not about quan­ti­ty of nov­el­ty. It’s about total­i­ty of qual­i­ty. That means offer­ing flu­id, con­tex­tu­al, per­son­al, and delight­ful expe­ri­ences at every touch­point. This isn’t only a go-to-mar­ket chal­lenge.

It’s also a cul­ture, struc­ture, incen­tives, tal­ent, busi­ness mod­el, and oper­a­tions chal­lenge. Lead­ers must fun­da­men­tal­ly rebuild their orga­ni­za­tions around the cus­tomer to deliv­er supe­ri­or CX. Not every­one is ready to run head­long at this mul­ti-head­ed hydra, though. Fire drills rearrange pri­or­i­ties. The nec­es­sary invest­ment of time, mon­ey, and peo­ple isn’t avail­able.

The con­ver­sa­tion about reskilling teams is mind numb­ing while the sug­ges­tion of uni­fy­ing inter­nal fief­doms sends chills up the spine. Of all the­se chal­lenges though, the tough­est one is the first: where to begin? Six­ty-three per­cent of exec­u­tives are still look­ing for an answer. The truth is, there is no one per­fect place to start; but there are five sen­si­ble places. They’re high-reward, low-cost lever­age points. When simul­ta­ne­ous­ly enact­ed, they make over­com­ing all the oth­er chal­lenges pos­si­ble.

Leverage Point 1: Free The Capacity For Change

Com­pa­nies are fan­tas­tic at adding ini­tia­tives, less so at elim­i­nat­ing them. Becom­ing a CX lead­er, means hav­ing the capac­i­ty – time, mon­ey, and peo­ple – to do so. Every depart­ment, direc­tive, posi­tion, process, ini­tia­tive, and incen­tive should fall under the micro­scope. Is it inef­fec­tive? End it. Is it friv­o­lous? Pull the plug. Is it redun­dant? Hit “stop.” Change only hap­pens when orga­ni­za­tions cre­ate the capac­i­ty for change.

Leverage Point 2: Lower The Percentage Of Project Work

In recent years, lead­ers have dumped retain­er rela­tion­ships in favor of more exper­i­men­tal and non-com­mit­tal projects. And their com­pa­nies aren’t any bet­ter for it. Crowd­ed part­ner ros­ters intro­duce all sorts of inef­fi­cien­cies. It inflates the time and effort to man­age them. Ini­tia­tives often emerge dis­con­nect­ed from a larg­er com­pa­ny ambi­tion.

Con­flict­ing objec­tives and project redun­dan­cies are com­mon. Project rela­tion­ships dis­in­cen­tive part­ners to work togeth­er, so they don’t. What the cus­tomer gets, in the end, is an incon­sis­tent, balka­nized, fric­tion-filled cus­tomer experience—the oppo­site of her def­i­n­i­tion of “qual­i­ty.” Build­ing a supe­ri­or cus­tomer expe­ri­ence requires strate­gic lead­er­ship from one, con­sis­tent part­ner – one who will:

  • Estab­lish and man­age a holis­tic CX per­spec­tive
  • Speak hard truths to you
  • Build with you a port­fo­lio of CX ini­tia­tives to roll out in a man­age­able way
  • Part­ner with you to dri­ve change through­out your orga­ni­za­tion

Leverage Point 3: Elevate What You Value

The pur­pose of a busi­ness, to build on Peter Druck­er, is to cre­ate and take care of a cus­tomer. But pur­pose and prac­tice rarely align. Cus­tomers feel it: a whop­ping 8 per­cent believe com­pa­nies deliv­er great CX. The rift exists because the cus­tomer isn’t val­ued. That may sound harsh, but a com­pa­ny ele­vates what it val­ues. Look in most c-suites and you’ll see what their orga­ni­za­tions exalt: oper­a­tions (COO), mar­ket­ing (CMO), infor­ma­tion (CIO), and finances (CFO). The­se c-suites uncon­scious­ly inspire cul­tures con­cerned with the man­age­ment of busi­ness func­tions. Not the cre­ation and care­tak­ing of cus­tomers. For them, the cus­tomer will always be an input, rather than the point. For aspir­ing CX lead­ers, why not include a “Chief Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Archi­tect” in the C-suite? A sim­ple addi­tion at that lev­el can be a pow­er­ful sym­bol of reeval­u­a­tion and reori­en­ta­tion for a com­pa­ny.

For aspir­ing CX lead­ers, why not include a “Chief Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Archi­tect” in the C-suite? A sim­ple addi­tion at that lev­el can be a pow­er­ful sym­bol of reeval­u­a­tion and reori­en­ta­tion for a com­pa­ny.

Leverage Point 4: Measure What You Value

Com­pa­nies also mea­sure what they val­ue. Mea­sur­ing behav­iors, beliefs, or sen­ti­ments for speci­fic touch­points is com­mon. But cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion as a cumu­la­tive score of expe­ri­ence across touch­points and time? That’s sur­pris­ing­ly rare. It should be a pri­or­i­ty since cumu­la­tive sat­is­fac­tion scores are more pre­dic­tive of busi­ness out­comes — high rev­enue, repeat pur­chase, low cus­tomer churn, pos­i­tive word of mouth — than any indi­vid­u­al touch­point score. Form­ing a CX ana­lyt­ics team and a CX track­er is a low hang­ing fruit with big ben­e­fits. It doesn’t require any pro­pri­etary sys­tems, infu­sion of cash, or reskilling of tal­ent. It requires mere­ly a shift in research ori­en­ta­tion to return a wealth of insights that can fuel orga­ni­za­tion­al change and CX improve­ment.

Form­ing a CX ana­lyt­ics team and a CX track­er is a low hang­ing fruit with big ben­e­fits. It doesn’t require any pro­pri­etary sys­tems, infu­sion of cash, or reskilling of tal­ent. It requires mere­ly a shift in research ori­en­ta­tion to return a wealth of insights that can fuel orga­ni­za­tion­al change and CX improve­ment.

Leverage Point 5: Chart Your ‘Share Of Experience’ Expansion

It’s tempt­ing to think of “cus­tomer expe­ri­ence” as a customer’s con­tact with a busi­ness. This point of view isn’t wrong; it’s just incom­plete. Peo­ple don’t think in terms of “cus­tomer expe­ri­ence.” They think in terms of “my expe­ri­ence” – one described as a goal and defined by a series of activ­i­ties. While an online retail­er might use the lan­guage “shop­ping expe­ri­ence,” a soon-to-be father is more like­ly to describe it as “my expe­ri­ence prep­ping for the baby” – a recent expe­ri­ence for me. Yes, includ­ed in it are store vis­its and pur­chas­es, but it also includes many touch­points:

  • Read­ing about baby’s needs
  • Cre­at­ing a wish list
  • Solic­it­ing ideas from friends
  • Research­ing sug­ges­tions
  • Research­ing pro­duct tox­i­c­i­ty
  • Hunt­ing for nurs­ery design ideas
  • Watch­ing how-to videos for crib assem­bly or putting on wraps
  • Wife’s baby show­er
  • Fig­ur­ing our how to store the baby items
  • Baby proof­ing the home
  • Return­ing items baby didn’t like
  • And so on…

Through­out those activ­i­ties, mul­ti­ple com­pa­nies dip in and out. Rarely does any one expand into adja­cent phas­es or own a whole touch­point. There­in lies the oppor­tu­ni­ty for savvy CX lead­ers. Defin­ing expe­ri­ence as the father does reveals oppor­tu­ni­ties to extend a company’s val­ue in authen­tic and rel­e­vant ways. This is the essence of “share of expe­ri­ence.” By expand­ing its val­ue, a com­pa­ny can enrich its rela­tion­ship with cus­tomers. In addi­tion to being a source of inno­va­tion and dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion, it’s also a source of growth: Acquir­ing a new cus­tomer is always more expen­sive than grow­ing val­ue for exist­ing cus­tomers. It costs six times more to get a cus­tomer than to keep one. Fur­ther­more, a mere 5 per­cent increase in reten­tion can gen­er­ate a 75 per­cent increase in prof­itabil­i­ty.

First-Mover Advantage

The rea­son the brand rev­o­lu­tion gave way to the inno­va­tion rev­o­lu­tion and then that of dig­i­tal is because the com­pet­i­tive advan­tage each cre­at­ed was not sus­tain­able. Adver­tis­ing cam­paigns were, at best, super­fi­cial gains. Inno­va­tions were easy to mim­ic. Look­ing for­ward, the same par­i­ty will occur in dig­i­tal as lead­ers add sim­i­lar capa­bil­i­ties, ser­vices, and prop­er­ties. The CX rev­o­lu­tion is dif­fer­ent, though. As not­ed, achiev­ing supe­ri­or CX requires sys­temic change across an orga­ni­za­tion: from oper­a­tions to cul­ture to go-to-mar­ket. The learn­ing curve is steep and long. Com­pa­nies that act ear­ly and fast will gain a first-mover advan­tage. The asso­ci­at­ed com­plex­i­ty and nec­es­sary costs of CX imi­ta­tion will deter most would-be copy­cats. Those who do attempt imi­ta­tion will find lit­tle reward. While they strug­gle to ascend the learn­ing curve, CX lead­ers will move with the effi­cien­cy found at the top of the curve. Not only will the com­pet­i­tive gap yawn, but also the cus­tomer loy­al­ty lead­ers earn

Not only will the com­pet­i­tive gap yawn, but also the cus­tomer loy­al­ty lead­ers earn will shore up them up again­st aggres­sive tac­tics of des­per­ate imi­ta­tors. Thus, the advan­tage given by CX endures pre­cise­ly because it is so dif­fi­cult to achieve.

Leland Maschmeyer

Written by Leland Maschmeyer

Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder, Collins

Under Leland Maschmeyer’s leadership, Collins evolved from a design studio into a full-service brand consultancy with award-winning customer intelligence, strategy, design, experience, and digital practices. His work spans industries from fashion to music to insurance to emerging digital brands, including Spotify, Target, Microsoft, and Chubb. Leland’s aim is to make companies work better for people and make customer experiences meaningful.

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