Last updated on September 12, 2023
The customer is a mysterious creature. Just ask any business owner. Deciphering the wants and needs of your customers is essential for sustainable, long-term success. For a company to grow, it needs to convert one-off customers into regular patrons. And the only way to keep them coming back for more is to provide a customer experience that they would like to revisit.
In customer experience, as with any other business endeavor, failure to plan is planning to fail. That’s why customer experience strategy plays such an essential role in determining how well a business performs. It involves creating a plan to elevate every customer’s experience across every touchpoint they have with your company.
Customer experience is a wide-ranging phenomenon that comes to life the moment a potential consumer becomes aware of a brand. Consider the following scenario: A customer learns a new airline will be operating flights in their city. Their customer experience will begin long before they board their first flight with the new airline. Booking tickets through the website, checking in online, and attractive introductory offers – all these contribute to customer experience even though the passenger hasn’t even reached the airport.
This is the secret ingredient to retaining customers, increasing sales, and succeeding as an organization.
Having a customer experience strategy template helps companies formulate actionable plans that deliver results for both the customers and the business.
Before we examine the finer points of developing a customer experience strategy, let’s take a moment to cover the basics. In the simplest terms, a customer experience strategy is a comprehensive set of plans that are put into action to ensure meaningful, positive, and repeated interactions with customers. Each customer experience strategy requires clearly defined goals. The steps needed to achieve those goals should also be documented when preparing a strategy.
Customer experience wasn’t always given this much importance. In the 1970s and 1980s, when the field was still in its infancy, customer experience was hardly a factor in determining which goods consumers bought. Instead, the “Four Ps” (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) were the key elements in determining purchase. With the rise of the internet and communication technology, customer experience began to receive attention in the 1990s, and today, we live in a time where customer experience is paramount for every company. With customers willing to pay higher prices for quality service, every company is looking to upgrade its customer experience capabilities.
Before developing a customer experience strategy, you need to identify the metrics against which you will measure your performance. Criteria like your company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) will give you a fair idea of what customers’ opinions are like. Creating customer personas and mapping customer journeys is another vital facet of customer experience strategy, which we will explore in more detail later on.
Customer experience is the responsibility of every department in the company, not just the client-facing ones. It requires cross-departmental cooperation to put together a truly effective customer experience strategy. It should include inputs from all stakeholders within the organization and take into account factors like:
Customer service is the tip of the spear when it comes to customer experience. But that doesn’t mean the two are interchangeable. Customer service is merely one aspect of a larger whole: Customer experience.
Picture a Venn diagram, where a smaller circle (customer service) is nestled entirely within a larger circle (customer experience). That’s the perfect visual representation of the relationship between customer service and customer experience. While they do seem superficially similar and appear to have overlapping areas of interest, there are some important distinctions that must be made between the two.
Customer service can be tightly managed, but customer experience is more challenging to control. A company can have the best, trained customer service team providing the highest level of service, but they have no influence over how a customer perceives their brand. All the company can do is try to ensure that its products, services, and marketing are conveying the right message and delivering value to customers.
There are many metrics that can be used to measure the level of customer service and the quality of the customer experience. Customer effort score (CES), CSAT, and NPS are examples of metrics applicable in either case. But since customer experience has a more broader outlook than customer service, additional data like repeat sales figures and customer retention rate are also taken into consideration.
Whether your organization refers to them as customer support executives, relationship managers, or any other appellation, the task of customer service falls squarely on the shoulders of one team and department. Customer experience is not so insular. Every department across the organization — from marketing to product development to sales — shares the responsibility of providing customers with the best experience.
The importance of customer experience in long-term success cannot be overstated enough. Having loyal patrons who do the work of converting new customers through word-of-mouth publicity (and at no extra cost, too!) is invaluable when it comes to increasing your brand’s market share. And it’s not just wishful thinking; this assertion can be backed by research.
The Customer Experience Report from PwC’s Consumer Intelligence series found that 73% of its surveyed customers made purchasing decisions based on their experience with a company. A rewarding interaction with a company is usually much more effective in winning over a customer compared to an advertisement. Today, customers consider their experience with a company just as important as pricing when buying products. And if you offer a premium experience, people will be willing to pay. Those surveyed in PwC’s report were willing to pay anywhere from 7% to 16% more for a product from a company that offered a good experience.
A clear vision is at the heart of every effective customer experience strategy. This vision entails having clear goals. When setting goals for customer experience strategy, remember that each of them needs to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. With this framework, you will be able to define exactly what is missing in your customer experience strategy and come up with steps to replace it.
For example, imagine 15% of your customers leave an unsatisfactory rating after calling your customer support helpline. In this context, reducing that number to 5% would be considered a SMART goal.
Once you’ve identified your goals, it’s time to get to work. One of the most critical aspects of creating a customer experience strategy is creating buyer personas and mapping their customer journeys.
The whole point of a customer experience strategy is to be able to anticipate your buyers’ needs. And to know what the customers need, you must first understand who they are. That’s why every customer experience strategy needs to include buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a theoretical customer- a character, if you will- created after going through market research and consumer data. Personas act as stand-ins for your target audience, with each distinct persona representing a different demographic. Simulating how each persona will interact with your company prepares you to handle the demands of actual customers in the market. For example, a busy working mom might not have time to participate in a customer survey, but a college student might.
This exercise of creating buyer personas is critical. It lets you identify the demographic makeup of your customer base. How many segments are they spread across? Are they all facing the same pain point that can be solved with your product, or does it vary from segment to segment? Can solutions developed for one segment be applied to others? These important questions are answered when you create at least four buyer personas.
Along with buyer personas, you also have to map the customer journey. Every point of engagement between your company and the customer needs to be plotted on this journey. Then, each of them must be inspected for potential pain points to the customer before appropriate adjustments to improve the experience are made.
Along with buyer personas and customer journeys, a comprehensive customer experience strategy only comes together once the following bases have been covered.
To deliver a unique customer experience, your company needs to stand out from the competition. Carry out an analysis of industry leaders and your closest competitors’ customer experience strategies. Compare your NPS and CSAT against those of your competition to see how you match up. The advantage of diligently performing competitive analysis is that you can learn from your rivals’ successes while steering clear of their mistakes.
Customer reviews and mock tests of the customer support system are ways to learn about your competition. Once you’ve gathered information about competitors’ strategies, perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to identify areas for improvement.
Your work in creating buyer personas is just one part of your consumer research. You also need to engage with real customers in the market. Connect with your existing customer base through surveys and feedback forms. Digital technology makes gathering inputs from large sample groups of customers a simple matter of sending out emails.
When working with buyer personas, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Approach your own customer support infrastructure as an outsider, and look for problems that could derail your experience.
Look out for new customer experience trends sweeping the market. Currently, many companies are finding ways to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots in their customer support network. Platforms like Lumoa have already integrated GPT features to help users with text analytics and feedback summaries.
One quality all customers look for is reliability and consistency. Knowing that your company upholds a certain standard of customer experience will encourage satisfied customers to give you repeat business. In order to promote a cohesive customer experience across your organization, each department must share the same mission and vision. Communicating this mission and vision to every stakeholder will guarantee that your customer experience strategy stays on track at every stage of the cycle.
Delighting your customers to the point that they continue to support your business over the competition isn’t easy, but it’s certainly worthwhile. Creating a customer experience strategy is a multi-step process, which unfolds as outlined below.
If yours is an established business, it will likely already have a customer service team engaging with your buyers. This provides a great starting point. When you review your existing customer service pipeline, any deficiencies it contains will turn up.
Your company needs to focus on more than just customer service, with an eye for the overall customer experience. To effectively transition from mere customer service to a holistic customer experience, ensure there are no holdovers from the defective system. Out with the old, in with the new.
The best way to grow your business is to admit that there’s always room for improvement.
The goals you set for your company will paint a fair picture of what you imagine the ideal customer experience to look like.
For example, maybe your online clothing store’s goal is to outsell your competition next quarter. With that company goal in mind, your customer experience strategy needs to work toward prompting customers to add more items to their cart every time they shop. This would mean revamping the recommendations on your website to offer more relevant results to shopping customers.
. Whatever your goals, ensure they are realistic, achievable, and, most importantly, aligned with your company’s overall vision.
How many audience segments is your product intended for? The answer to that question can only be found in some consumer research. To ensure you design an experience that all your customers can enjoy, you must segment your audience based on behavior, feedback, and preferences. As mentioned above, one easy way to develop an understanding of your audience is by creating buyer personas who act as fictional representatives of very real audience segments. When you know the likes and dislikes of the different groups you’re selling to, that’s when you can best serve the demographic.
How does a consumer go from never having heard of your company to a loyal, repeat customer? This transformative arc is their customer (or buyer) journey. Right from the moment buyers first come across your company’s advertisements to long after they’ve made their first purchase, they will interact with your company and its representatives multiple times. Each of those interactions is a stop on their customer journey, whether it occurs online, offline, on social media, or on any other platform. Once you’ve identified the sequence of interactions that lead to repeat business, it’s time to fine-tune the process by finding ways to reduce the pain points and problem areas that crop up within them.
For best results with customer experience, you need to be hitting your targets regularly. Your chief goal should be broken down into more manageable objectives that can be completed according to a timetable. For example, your main goal is to increase your customer satisfaction score by 20% over four months. That means you need to see a monthly rise of at least 5% to achieve consistent results. Focusing on smaller, easily accomplished targets allows a company to smartly use its resources at each stage of the customer journey.
Remember customers may not work for your company, but they are the most crucial element of the entire customer experience. Once their journey is mapped out, find ways to elevate the customer experience at every touch point. Take the example of an auto repair shop. Customers dropping off their cars will be happy to have an informed agent guide them through the required work. When it’s time to pick up the car, they won’t want to wait for a long time. Training agents able to answer all the customer’s questions and to reduce wait times for outbound vehicles are essential additions to the customer journey in this example, and similar ones can be seen across industries.
Customer experience is the shared responsibility of your entire organization, not just those in client-facing roles. Right from the office custodian keeping the meeting room clean and tidy for client visits to the corporate leader making a speech at an industry event, every employee of the company is a stakeholder when it comes to providing a stellar customer experience. When the strategy for customer experience is clear and shared with all team members, working together to achieve targets becomes far simpler.
When you set goals, identify the main metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to gauge success. Having a quantifiable, tangible representation of their efforts will motivate your team to do better.
In making a customer experience strategy, metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), and Customer Effort Score (CES) are important to evaluate performance. Also, look at industry trends and your ranking compared to competitors to measure how well your customer service strategy is working.
Your company’s relationship with its customers is dynamic and constantly changing. Once the customers have become accustomed to a standard of service, they will naturally expect more from your company. Your customer experience strategy should reflect these dynamics. Constant improvement is the only path to sustainable customer satisfaction.
Just as technology has made doing business more convenient, it has also opened up new frontiers for customer experience. This, in turn, has led to the rise of products like Lumoa, a software designed to cut through the clutter in customer feedback. Using Lumoa lets you identify performance gaps and actionable insights in your customer experience strategy. With the power of Lumoa’s predictive analytics capabilities, you will be in the driver’s seat when it comes to anticipating customer needs and trends.
It comes packed with tools that have a positive impact on your customer experience, including downloadable customer experience strategy templates to help you get started. As more companies start to realize the value of providing quality customer experience, tools like Lumoa will become even more widely used.
Johnson Outdoors, an American retailer of fishing equipment, camping gear, and other outdoor recreational goods, was struggling to handle its NPS feedback manually. With two teams struggling to cope with approximately 300,000 consumer contacts per year, there was a massive backlog of uncollected feedback.
Switching to automated NPS collection and analysis proved to be the game changer. Lumoa surveys automatically collected NPS results and shared them with Johnson Outdoors’ customer service team, allowing them to analyze the feedback and follow up with customers more efficiently. The new customer experience strategy worked, and Johnson Outdoors was able to comfortably meet its goal of having an NPS score over 50.
The importance of customer experience will only increase in the coming years. The Customer Experience Management Market Report from Markets and Markets, published in 2021, predicted steady growth for the sector over the next five years. From a global market worth $9.5 billion in 2021 to a predicted market worth of $16.9 billion in 2026, it’s clear that investing in a customer experience solution like Lumoa is worthwhile.
Having a solid customer experience strategy in place delivers returns on investment over time. Impressed first-time buyers become repeat customers, who then go on to become brand evangelists of their own accord. This attracts new customers, grows sales, and solidifies your brand as a force in the market.
Every aspect of the customer experience is carefully considered in Lumoa. Its impressive collection of features lets you manage the customer experience across different platforms and channels, all the while controlling it from a single dashboard. Experience the irreplaceable excitement of forging a productive partnership with your valued buyers as you progress from delivering plain old customer satisfaction to thrilling customer delight. Lumoa’s software helps you take your customers on a journey that they will never forget.
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