Using Customer Experience as a Strategic Lever

March 22, 2019

Customer experience, better known as CX, is the industry’s new buzzword. You’ve undoubtedly heard a colleague, or maybe a manager talking about it in a meeting, but do you fully understand the depth and complexity of this concept?!

What few understand about CX, a term that is bandied about in offices everywhere, is that implementing it in an organization can be a powerful strategic lever. CX helps companies of all sizes stand out by showcasing their advantages and delivering maximum value to their customers. That being said, it is a tricky, and sometimes frustratingly complex mission that has to be embedded into every action, strategic and operational, if it’s going to work for your company. Let’s explore how the customer experience can become a key lever for you.

Reap the Benefits of a Customer-Centric Corporate Culture

Companies that are actively listening to and care about their customers and their needs are better able to identify opportunities that will enhance their products and services. How, you might ask? The key lies in identifying the main areas of their customers’ resistance, frustration or discontent relating to what a company is offering. The same exercise has to be done for what customers like about your company. Don't forget to analyse the multiple paths customers take when interacting with the company. The idea is to get a comprehensive view of the relationship you have with customers.

CX culture encourages companies to invest in research and makes the relationship that customers can have with a product, service or company, more democratic. Without a thorough understanding of your customers, it’s impossible to gain the strategic perspective that could help you prioritize the right projects or initiatives, and hence, make decisions that would generate maximum value for both the company and its customers.

As my colleague, André Gagnon, strategist and experience architect, has told me in the past, Your customers are willing to pay more for a quality experience. They will then say good things about you to their friends. You need to go above and beyond to meet their needs and expectations if you want that to happen though! The key is to put your customers and employees at the heart of how you think about your business. Design a simple, multi-channel experience that has value for everyone. The best strategy is an experience!

So, in other words, the more you put into customer intelligence, the more you will be able to understand, predict and plan for their expectations. And what’s the upshot? You surprise them and give them an experience that has real value.

Strong Emotions Create Engaging Experiences

In CX culture, understanding a user’s rational and emotional interactions with an organization is critical. And let’s face it, the emotional side of things is sometimes hard to get your head around in the business world.

My colleague, content strategist Pauline Vaccaro, rightly pointed out that The world is changing; service standards are evolving. Omnichannel, proactive, self-service, personalization, and more come to mind. In 2019, making a shift to focusing on the customer goes beyond good practice, it becomes a prerequisite, a way to survive in an increasingly competitive and cognitively-overloaded world. It’s not enough to inform, you have to create an emotional connection with your customers, understand their expectations and needs, so you can offer them a personalized and positive experience that will speak to them.

What do you do if a customer seems anxious or has a bad feeling about a product or service? How do you deal with a patient who is scared about a procedure? What’s the best way to manage a customer who is agitated or even angry?

By answering these questions, you will shed light on the right decisions. Whether we’re talking about developing a customer space, an online ordering platform, or a mobile value-added application, emotions have to guide the solutions you create. Let’s look at the Desjardins’ mobile application as an example. Users can, in just a few seconds, transfer money to their child’s bank account (who is penniless halfway across the world) and this can quickly put at ease a worried parent’s anxiety. The customer feels understood and the company profits from the experience.

Focus on the Right Actions and the Appropriate Levers

Identifying the most valuable advantages and the most restrictive points of friction will help a company prioritize what they need to do first. Why would you invest so much effort and money into optimizing a process that ultimately has no impact on your customers’ happiness? If the main goal of a project is to please the CFO, operations manager or the president, you need to take a second look at your approach. CX will prevent you from falling into the trap of internal self-indulgence.

A CX approach will instead become a major asset in all aspects of decision-making. Customer intelligence should unite priorities and internal decision-making. A project that brings little or no value to the customer needs to be given the heave-ho. The greatest initiatives and investments will always be those that generate value for both the customer and the company. And that value doesn’t always have to come in the form of sacrosanct profitability, it can also come in the form of employee motivation, for example.

Getting Employees Involved Is Your Best Bet

Once you do your homework and have a good understanding of your customers, it will be a matter of course to deploy strategies or tactics, both marketing and digital, aimed at increasing their satisfaction. Reviewing products, improving packaging, redesigning a mobile application, enhancing your e-commerce site, and let’s not forget content strategy. Thousands of dollars invested in your customers. But what about how you execute and manage the experience? Even if you have the best ideas, don’t forget that your employees have to bring them to life with finesse and careful consideration. And at the end of the day, it’s your staff that manage the relationship you have with your customer.

To please your customer, your employees will need to nurture customer intelligence. Their knowledge, experience and notions will take your understanding of customer relationships even further. Involving them in a structured way will result in motivated employees that want to contribute to the organization’s focus on CX.

Last but not least, we have to ask ourselves how to make sure that our employees can pass on the company’s value to its customers. The answer is quite simple: get them involved, educate them, equip them and give them new ways of making customers happy and satisfied. You will have to put the customer experience into action so that CX goes beyond a simple, intangible concept. This responsibility falls onto all members of the organization, so you can achieve the most in terms of customer satisfaction.

Excellent customer experience management is, undeniably, a key lever for business success. Your company can focus all of its attention on the desires and emotions of your customers, while also drawing on the lessons learned from research and the on-site reality of your employees.

CX is a win-win. So, what are you waiting for?

Director, Digital Strategy and Customer Experience and Intelligence