To develop a customer experience (CX) strategy that’s just right for your company, you’ve got to know what it is — and exactly why you need one
Imagine yourself at the helm of a ship. But, the gauges and controls are unreliable. Your vessel is adrift at sea, under the night sky.
In the quest to implement the right customer experience (CX) strategy – that analogy isn’t terribly far off.
Like the stars above that ship, the universe of digital data is almost infinite in scope. But, without vast navigation experience, how can you know which data points are most important? Or what star systems will be most relevant and useful toward finding your way back to land?
Assess Your Situation Accurately
Change has shifted rapidly around your organization. It’s no longer enough to compete on price, quality, or features alone. You must also provide an efficient, rewarding, and positive experience for all who come in contact with your company.
That’s the crux of CX — and why it’s become such a hot topic of late.
But how do you do provide a better CX? Are your systems up to the task of handling all the data? Can your processes be improved to maximize benefit for both customers and employees? And – depending on the adjustments you’re able to make – how well will you be able to compete over the long-term?
Since all journeys must begin somewhere, let’s start by re-evaluating some basics.
Address Your Weakest Touchpoints
Failing to capitalize on each potential customer touchpoint puts your business at risk. Remember, you compete in an era where the size of the Millennial audience has overtaken the Baby Boomers. They are the largest consumer demographic now — with an estimated $200 billion in annual buying power.
This is an audience with radically different views about what it takes to earn their loyalty — and little patience for those who can’t keep up.
Personalize the Experience Like Never Before
At the same time, technologies that enable a more personalized experience for each consumer are evolving rapidly. Artificial intelligence and machine learning offer a way to quickly sort through unstructured data – a galaxy of chats, documents, audio files, and online comments all its own – and identify trends or relationships that are important.
That’s why it’s an ideal time to upgrade your CX approach. Moving quickly is of the essence, because the market shift is already underway.
Stay Ahead of Millennials
The growing influence of Millennials can’t be understated. Unlike boomers – or even Gen Xers – they grew up on all this technology. They’re much more willing to surrender a little privacy in exchange for greater convenience. For them, responsiveness is essential, and self-service is preferable.
For one thing, that means Millennials are far more willing to deal with FAQs and chatbots in order to troubleshoot a problem. But when all that fails, an immediate response is expected – and they are quickly frustrated by wait times, incomplete answers, or repetitive processes. This is the crowd that favors fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle over sit-down restaurants in the same price range — even when the latter offers “friendly service.”
And, do you think a frustrated Millennial would keep a lid on their dissatisfaction? For better – but particularly for worse – Millennials share their experiences on social media. One study in the health care sector found that 60% of younger patients tell their friends when they are unsatisfied with a doctor’s care, versus the 51% of older patients who may tell the doctor directly.
On the flip side, to get information, Millennials look to online resources and social media far more often than older generations do. In fact, they tend to gravitate toward first-hand, non-corporate sources before making a purchase. And they find a lot of compelling viewpoints on apps like Instagram and Snapchat. For them, “trending” memes and crowd sourcing are very real phenomena.
Finally, this is a generation that is mobile more often than not. They are quite willing to hop from device to device – phone to tablet to laptop – and expect the same quality of experience delivered to them each time. For instance, if you didn’t already know they prefer text to calling – I’ll assume that there isn’t one in your household or you haven’t chatted with a parent lately.
Serve Audiences Across All Channels
Speaking of those parents, they haven’t faded into the woodwork just yet. Many older consumers still appreciate the comfort of human assistance – especially when something goes wrong. That may explain why the phone is still – for the time being – the single most popular customer service channel. Though even that is likely to change in coming years.
This fluxing of channels demands that any customer experience strategy you undertake results in a solution that greets each person with familiarity, no matter how they choose to connect across the broad digital landscape. Every customer should be treated according to that individual’s unique set of needs and preferences at the specific time of contact.
Even when consumers hop from voice to text or from email to the next platform, delivering context within a consistent, familiar experience is merely table stakes for CX platforms today.
Anticipate Each Customer’s Next Best Action
So, what will differentiate the next-generation of CX management platforms? From our perspective, the ability to pull data from the broadest range of potential touch points – from online resources to social media to direct contact to post-call surveys and more – are massively important. Advances like A.I. and precision analytics will also help improve the ability to anticipate a customer’s next-best action — both for them and for the personnel who swoop in to assist when someone gets stuck. That context and relevant customer data has to remain accessible and consistent while moving with the customer from platform to platform.
For example, the ability to greet an incoming caller by name, after noting that they already expressed frustration in an online chat, then being able to quickly identify the problem and pursue a solution, not only positions a customer service rep to boost customer satisfaction and retention, but makes the best possible use of a company’s treasured resource — their time.
Set Your Course Back to Land
Moving from today’s legacy CX platforms to a more forward-looking approach is a major step. Business leaders often want to future-proof that journey by turning away from purpose-built hardware and software solutions in favor of cloud-based options that offer flexibility and increased possibilities as they become available.
The strategy for maximizing customer experience for your company will be uniquely yours. The point is to move forward with purpose and commitment. And if your current CX strategy situation has anything in common with that ship lost at sea – it just might be time to upgrade your instruments.