What is a customer experience program?
A customer experience program is an action plan set in place to make your organization more customer-centric. It involves all the tools, techniques, strategies, and initiatives that are aligned towards creating better experiences for your customers and winning their loyalty and advocacy.
It’s the system that your organization uses to implement your customer experience management strategy and improve the interactions that your customers and leads have with your organization over various touchpoints and channels.
Why is customer experience program important?
Your customer experience management program can literally make or break your brand. Deliver a substandard customer experience and you’ll be leaking customers faster than a tank punctured with a hundred holes.
But that’s not the only problem. You’ll also have to deal with the fact that your former customers would proceed to tell everyone in their circles about the bad customer experience that they went through.
How to avoid that? Give your customers a great experience.
But you can’t really go ad hoc with it. You need to have a plan and a system in place to help you organize your efforts towards creating better customer experiences, increasing loyalty, and generating positive word of mouth.
That’s where a well-defined customer experience program comes into the picture. It guides your efforts, gives you direction, and helps you be consistent in delivering top-notch customer experiences.
What are the requirements for creating a good customer experience program?
Here’s what you need to have in place if you wish to create a high-performing customer experience program:
1. Complete organizational alignment
While building a customer experience program, your entire organization has to be aligned towards improving your customer experience - it cannot just be your customer support and sales teams.
Everyone, across every department, all the way from the C-suite to entry-level employees needs to know why it is important to have a great customer experience, understand what kind of experience the company intends to deliver, and ensure that they do what it takes to make it happen.
You basically need a customer experience vision that your entire organization can rally behind, across the board.
2. Empowered employees
Your customer experience management program won’t do much good if your employees constantly need to seek permission from their managers. That means that your customers will have to wait longer to get their issues resolved, leading to higher levels of customer frustration.
If you’ve defined a vision, you need to make it possible for your employees to deliver on that vision and create amazing customer experiences without needing to ask their superiors for permission all the time.
Here’s an approach that you could consider:
Set a monetary limit that empowers your employees to spend a certain amount of money to solve customer problems without needing to seek authorization. If the solution to the problem would cost the company more than the amount budgeted for, the employee would have to get permission from management, but if it falls within the limit they can go ahead and create a delightful experience for the customer without having to worry about getting authorization.
It helps you wow your customers by going above and beyond for them as soon as they face an issue, without them having to keep waiting for your employees to get approval from their seniors.
You can’t have a customer experience programme without data. You need data about loyalty rates, purchase frequency, etc., but you also need data regarding customer feedback. You can have operational data regarding revenue, website analytics, and shopper behavior, but without the data regarding customer feedback, you’re completely clueless about the reasons behind the trends you’re seeing in your operational data.
When you have customer feedback data along with the operational data, you can get context about the metrics you see there and you get to understand why your customers are doing what they are doing and behaving the way they are. It helps you connect the pieces and even assists you in understanding what you could do to improve those operational metrics.
4. The right technology
You need technology that helps you visualize data and take action on it. After seeing the data, you need to be ready to adopt technology that could help you improve on your metrics (eg. using chatbots to increase customer engagement).
You need the technology to analyze the data, report on it, take action, and make improvements based on it. You even need dashboards that help your team members stay updated on key metrics and show them when an alarm is going off so that they can make changes.
How to develop a customer experience program?
1. Define your vision
This defines the kind of experience that your organization commits to delivering. It outlines the criteria against which your CX initiatives shall be measured.
2. Customer journey mapping
Map the customer journey across all touchpoints. Understand the experience your customers go through at each touchpoint and look for gaps and areas of improvement.
3. Get feedback
This can’t be a purely theoretical process. You need to speak to your customers and ask them for feedback on the entire experience as well as on individual touchpoints and interactions. It’s very possible that you might have assumed some parts of the customer journey to be smooth and seamless, but your customers are actually having trouble with them
4. Redesign the touchpoints
Based on your data and the feedback that you collect, identify and prioritize customer touchpoints that need to be redesigned. Make sure that the initiatives align with your vision. You need to focus on making it easier for your customers to do business with you.
5. Create a CX dashboard
Your initiatives need to be backed up by real-time data. Create dashboards that pull this data and help you see how your initiatives are performing, which ones you need to double down on and which ones need to be killed.
Recognize and reward team members that display customer-centric behaviors and work in ways that positively impact your customer experience.