The Innovation Framework
Customer Experience

5 Strategies to Institutionalize Customer Experience

Set the stage for memorable brand experiences by socializing a customer experience mindset and process within your organization.

As an executive, your job description five years ago would hardly be recognizable today. And in the next few years, an entirely new list of responsibilities will command your attention.

According to a recent Gartner study, only a third of executives say their CEOs’ highest expectations for them revolve around their customer experience efforts. But in three to five years, 75 percent of executives (especially marketers) predict they’ll be responsible for the end-to-end customer experience.

The customer experience comprises every consumer interaction with your product or service across every touchpoint during the relationship. This means your job will no longer focus solely on acquisition and retention tactics; the next-generation leader must understand the entire customer life cycle, from awareness to advocacy strategy and execution.

Although this task can seem daunting, these five steps will help you transition smoothly into the modern leadership role:

1. Master the Business Model

Simply understanding the business model won’t cut it. Today’s leader must actively shape the evolution of channels, revenue streams, and value propositions.

To get started, chart the customer journey for every audience segment. Look through the consumer lens and plot the brand interactions across the different stages: consideration, purchase, retention, loyalty, and evangelism. Where do customers enter the path and—be honest—what’s their experience like? Do this for every step, and identify strategies for strengthening the low points and replicating the high points.

2. Gain Executive Buy-in Across the Organization

The best customer experiences constantly evolve and adapt to consumer needs, wants, and desires. To deliver on the brand promise and continually strengthen it, you’ll need a discretionary budget to apply toward any department needing to tweak the customer experience. Without executive support, you likely won’t receive the resources you need to succeed.

As with any new initiative, the test-and-learn approach is the best way to discover viable solutions. Although it may be hard for CEOs to swallow, getting them on board will give you more freedom to experiment.

3. Involve Other Departments in Your Vision

The customer experience spans marketing to the point of sale, and from product development to customer service. Aligning every department with your vision will be a huge, yet crucial, hurdle.

Edelman’s brandshare 2014 study found that 87 percent of people want more value from brand interactions, such as improved response times, open and transparent communication, and invitations to take part in the development process. To truly deliver a seamless experience, you need to collaborate with every team and oversee each point of contact.

Dig into and manage customer experience initiatives from sales, merchandising, supply chain management, customer support, online, etc. Leading an initiative across teams might feel foreign or uncomfortable at first, but it’s an amazing opportunity to grow in these areas.

4. Understand your Digital Inputs

Aside from retail stores, most consumer interactions will take place in the digital world. You’ll need to help shape the e-commerce, online, social, and mobile user experiences across every customer-facing app.

Few leaders come from either an experience design or technical background, and navigating these worlds will be new to many. Refer to the product designers in conversations about UX, and enlist the IT and business applications teams to implement software that captures meaningful data and provides a unified view of the customer. A team effort will strengthen the initiative overall.

5. Collect Actionable Data

To improve the customer experience, you need to measure and refine it. Set customer satisfaction benchmarks like perceived quality and loyalty, and implement Net Promoter Scores.

Establish KPIs over the areas you influence: average revenue per user, monthly recurring revenue, lifetime customer value, churn rate, etc. Track these hard numbers to measure your progress against your customer experience goals.

Most importantly, comprehensively implement your findings. Although fast food doesn’t conjure a world-class experience, Chick-fil-A prides itself on speedy and polite service. When it discovers a new way to elevate the customer experience, its more than 1,200 owner-operators are informed to ensure consistent and superior brand interactions.

Your job as a leader is, ultimately, to funnel recurring business to your company. To inspire customer loyalty, you have to set the stage for memorable brand experiences across the board.

Amber Bezahler

B-school Meets D-School

Subscribe to receive inspiration and ideas in your inbox