Customer centricity requires strategy to cultivate a culture that puts the Customer at the center of everything you do. As the third in our series of nine posts looking at the different parts of the organization contributing to Customer centricity, let’s look at:Customer Strategy.
All organizations are on a journey from being Naive to Natural in the way they focus on the Customer, passing through each of four stages: Naïve, Transactional, Enlightened, and Natural. Naïve companies are the least customer-focused and Natural companies are the most customer-focused.
Creating a Deliberate Customer Experience in Your Strategy
Everyone should have a Customer Experience strategy. What we know is over half of the experience outcome is emotionally based no matter what industry you do business. You are evoking emotions in your Customers right now. The difference that exists between an organization that has an excellent emotional Customer Experience and one that doesn’t resides in one word: Deliberate.
Customer Strategy must be deliberate in every aspect of the interaction to be Customer Focused. Companies that are more Naïve or Transactional will think that being deliberate is limited to product and process. Organizations considered Enlightened or Natural, however, know that there is much more to it than this. Their strategy takes into account the emotions evoked from all the senses throughout the experience. At each of these points, the Enlightened and Natural companies have designed it deliberately to evoke a specific emotional response.
Ask yourself if you can answer the following three questions about your current Customer Experience:
- What is the Customer Experience we are trying to deliver?
- What emotions are we trying to evoke?
- What senses are we going to use to evoke these emotions and how are we doing to do this?
Naïve and Transactional organizations haven’t thought about these finer points to their Customer Experience yet. Enlightened and Natural ones have, and are in different stages of implementing the answers into their design. Your answers just now will probably give you an idea of where you are as an organization. So, how do you take your Customer Strategy to the next level?
If you want to be Natural in your Customer Strategy, you need to be deliberate about the following five factors:
- You must be able to articulate clearly the Customer Experience you want to deliver. An essential first step for any organization is to define in detail what they are trying to do with Customer Experience. We call it a Customer Experience Statement (CES) and having one is the foundation for building your deliberate Customer Experience.
- Everyone in the organization should be able to articulate the same Customer Experience you want to deliver. Many times an organization knows that this is important to do, but doesn’t understand that it is important to do in every department, not just the Customer-facing ones. As a result, there is a disjointed message between those that are delivering customer experience and those that are running the business behind the curtain. HR, IT, Accounting, Production, Operations, everyone that is part of the organization needs to be able to articulate the CES—and it needs to be the same one!
- Once defined, implement the CES with specific actions of the company’s activities. Knowing what you want to do is only part of the strategy. Coming up with specific ways that create this experience in all the departments of your organization is how you deliver the experience you designed. This step is often the most challenging, because the hard work of change starts here. This step tests the resolve of senior management to sacrifice time and resources to creating the Customer Experience that everyone agreed upon to deliver. It is also the part that never ends, as the activities needed to achieve the proper emotional experience often evolve as the business, and the competitive landscape does.
- Recognizing that the CES might have a different strategy depending on the Customer you are serving at any given time. Customer Segmentation is a process where you define different types of customers by their behavior and emotions. Once you recognize the type of Customer currently in your experience, you have a set of appropriate responses that best appeal to that Customer Type. This customization requires a great deal of emotional intelligence and training in your Customer-facing employees. We discussed this in more detail in the first post of this series about People.
- Believing in the importance of balancing Brand and Experience. In the past, most companies were focused on product and price as well as the brand. If you have the belief, however, that articulating and designing a deliberate experience makes you a better organization you can overcome these challenges that are created by transformational change to your culture. Natural and Enlightened organizations have this belief while Naïve and Transactional ones do not. This belief is crucial to the success and is best when initiates with the senior executives—as they are the ones who approve the allocation of resources!
Having a defined Customer strategy is essential to having a customer focus for your organization. Even though the majority of you reading this will agree with that, I would argue that it is far less than the majority of organizations that have this strategy defined. Once defined, however, designing a deliberate Customer Strategy that evokes the emotions indicated in your CES and implementing it are the next steps. Transformational change can be difficult, but if you believe in the idea, you will push your organization to be more “Natural” in its pursuit of Customer-Centricity.
What’s your Customer Strategy for your Customer Experience?
If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:
- What We Can Learn from Google’s Empowered Culture
- Putting the Power of Your People To Work for Customer Centricity
- Hiring Customer-Ready Employees
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books and an engaging keynote speaker.