The Right Customer Experience Strategy: It Varies from "Tailored Intimacy" to "Customer Self-Service"

By Band, William; Hagen, Paul | CRM Magazine, May 2011 | Go to article overview

The Right Customer Experience Strategy: It Varies from "Tailored Intimacy" to "Customer Self-Service"


Band, William, Hagen, Paul, CRM Magazine


MOST COMPANIES lack a customer experience strategy, and those that have one must adjust because of the explosion of digital channels. As a result, their leaders struggle with decisions about funding and prioritizing projects meant to improve customer experience at the enterprise level.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

What exactly is a customer experience strategy? To put that question into perspective, consider customers' expectations of Costco Wholesale versus Apple. Costco customers expect bare-bones service in return for low prices, while Apple customers expect innovative products at relatively high prices. Those are very different experiences, but they both delight customers. Should your company model Costco or Apple--or someone else?

ALIGN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE WITH BUSINESS STRATEGY

Forrester defines a customer experience strategy as a plan that guides the activities and resource allocation needed to deliver an experience that meets or exceeds customer expectations. A successful strategy consists of these components:

* Describes the intended experience. The strategy paints a vivid picture of how the company would like customers to perceive it across the three key dimensions: meeting customers' needs, being easy to work with, and being enjoyable to work with. It should call out the aspects of customer experience that are most critical to a company's aspirations for differentiating itself.

* Directs the activities and processes.

Companies differentiate themselves by performing different activities than their competitors or by performing the same activities differently. An effective strategy informs customer experience professionals' decisions about what their companies need to start doing, stop doing, or do differently.

* Guides the allocation of resources. When customer experience professionals know the endgame, they're better equipped to justify funding and prioritize the projects that need funding.

THREE STRATEGIES TO BUILD YOUR BRAND

Here are three examples of how customer experience strategies can be aligned with business strategies:

* Self-service optimization for cost leaders. Companies pursuing cost leadership strategies compete on the ability to deliver the lowest prices for products or services. Their strategic position depends on creating operational efficiencies that drive down internal costs. …

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