More and more companies are realizing the importance of formalizing and strategizing the customer experience. However, many are unsure where to start, which leads to a common question, “How do you build a customer experience strategy?”

This article will help you understand what a CX strategy is and how to build one by adapting the philosopher Vanilla Ice’s famous words, “… Stop, Collaborate, and Listen.”

Step One: Stop & Understand Current State

Be it a new or seasoned company, before creating a CX strategy to improve your customer’s experience, first create a baseline by understanding your current state.

This includes:

  • Knowing your customers better than they know themselves

  • Understanding what your customers ‘think’, ‘feel’, ‘say’, and ‘do’ to know the different aspects of your customer’s experiences and preferences

  • Mapping your customer journey and get into their minds as they interact with your products or services

Ask key questions, such as:

  • What are key metrics for tracking customer experience quality, satisfaction, and loyalty (e.g., NPS, CSAT, CES, etc.)?

  • How will you analyze and interpret results to gain insights and uncover trends?

  • How will you define success?

Step Two: Align your CX Strategy with Business Objectives

After understanding your current state, review your company’s business objectives to ensure alignment between your CX strategy and those objectives. Begin with identifying and mapping your company’s major touchpoints and performing a gap analysis.

And, with a deeper customer understanding, develop a framework linking experiences to business outcomes. At first, focus on addressing and fixing the pain points which will have the most positive impact to the business with minimal cost or effort. After all, low hanging fruit and quick wins are great confidence boosters.

As you gather this information, bake in metrics so you can demonstrate to leadership the return on investment (ROI) of an enhanced customer experience. By connecting the dots and showing how CX initiatives result in business positive outcomes, your initiatives will gain credibility and buy-in. The C-suite needs to see, if there was a (customer) problem, yo…you solved it.

And remember, stay laser-focused on the customer!

Step Three: Collaborate and Listen to Employees

A company’s growth and profitability are linked to the satisfaction of its workforce. The customer experience begins with your staff and their employee experience. When employees know about CX and care about it, they are well-positioned to deliver a positive, memorable customer experience.

What is the employee experience (EX)?

Foundational to providing a positive, efficient, and memorable customer experience, the employee experience includes everything from company benefits, to work environment, and to the tools complete one’s job. Essentially, it is the entire experience from the interview process to the end of employment.

The employee experience and customer experience are interconnected, and to care for customers, a company must also care for their employees. This includes listening to employees and knowing where they encounter friction. Consider how to eliminate these points and allow them to pass on the positive, convenient experience to your customers. Hence, if you start with the EX, you will improve your customer experience.

Engage non-customer-facing roles

Employees want to work in a well-respected organization and care about the company’s customer engagement success. (Or at least they should, as their job depends on it!) However, most employees do not hear much about customers’ realities, experiences, and expectations. And when they do, they’re not sure it’s actionable for them. What if standards for every role could be defined by customer expectations rather than industry norms? All in all, you need to help your employees understand their role in CX while staying customer-focused.

Key questions:

  • How can you cultivate a customer-focused culture within your company?

  • Who can help you make this successful? (i.e., CX champions)

  • How will employees be measured on your CX Strategy?

Step Four: How Communication (and Listening) Fits In

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The Single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” And since it is not enough to hope for a CX strategy to succeed – because hope is not a strategy – set your initiative up for success. Establish communication strategies and tactics to share the importance of CX and provide the proper change support. Without a two-pronged communication and change management strategy, your plan will struggle to succeed and any necessary cultural transformation will fail.

In addition to listening to your customers, it is equally as important to listen to your employees. Make sure your communication plan including a listening step and has a step to verify your message has been heard.

The loop of CX strategy doesn’t end! To embrace the chase of excellence, you need to learn, understand, adapt, and repeat.

Finally, Celebrate! (While listening to Vanilla Ice, of course)

Like any winning team, make sure you take time to celebrate the wins. It’s time to get loose! Plastic off a room, bring in the champagne, turn on the music, put your ski goggles on, and have some fun. And, after the party, get back to work and focus on giving your customers the experience they expect and deserve – an easy, convenient, and friction-free one.

Nick Glimsdahl is the Director of Contact Center Solutions at VDS, and his mission is to help improve the customers’ experiences through user-friendly, customer-focused contact center solutions. He is dedicated to living out the sage advice from the philosopher, Vanilla Ice; simply put, he helps companies stop and evaluate their current state, collaborate with subject matter experts, and listen to their customers.

Nick’s background in sales, marketing, and contact center solutions serves as the framework for his advanced expertise in the field of customer experience. He is a leader in the “CX Ohio” community and CXPA Columbus Chapter.