Regardless of your industry, your business will have customers. You may call them clients, patients, consumers, clientele, diners, patrons, ticket holders, members, punters householders or buyers. Whatever you call them, their experiences with your business matter. It will ultimately be what proves the difference between them liking your business, continuing to purchase with you and advocating your brand, or leaving for a competitor and potentially dragging your business through the mud as they go.
Customer experience is finally being recognised as an important element for businesses to invest in and get right, but unlike marketing, sales and digital capabilities that have increasingly moved in house, still few businesses have a dedicated Customer Experience custodian in the form of a CX manager, team or even, defined responsibility for this role under another umbrella.
Simply put, CX is recognised as important, but remains a mystery in its execution and just how much businesses should be investing in it. Like other revenue generating, customer facing disciplines, smart businesses are first turning to experts to help them in this space firstly for education and to arm themselves with the tools and capabilities required, with fast following strategies and implementation plans to get ahead of the competition.
With leaders in every industry demonstrating exemplary customer experiences those who want to get ahead are taking the same path they did with the rise of television advertising, digital marketing, websites and ecommerce and engaging with specialist external agencies and consultants. These specialist teams are designed to stay ahead of the trends, and come armed with teams of experts ready to help examine your business and customers and design the right strategy to help you get ahead, while upskilling your team with the knowledge it needs to take the reigns. It’s predicted that, like with all the aforementioned skills and media, CX will be taken in house but for now, it’s a mystery for most businesses to know where to start with teams and platforms as much as investment.
By engaging a CX consultancy, businesses of all types can gain the upper hand over their competitors. Smart customer experience strategies not only lend themselves to increased retention of customers, higher revenue, ATV and advocacy rates and increased engagement and satisfaction scores. They can also extend to other areas of the business in creating process efficiencies, smarter product buying and development and more highly targeted, smarter marketing which all drive down costs and increase ROI and profit.
So where should you start when engaging with a CX consultant. Well for the first part, let them work with you to undertake a thorough audit of your current business. This can include your customers, goals, KPIs, business processes, your team member skills and capabilities and platforms in use. From there you can move to your desired future state. Where is it that you want to take your business? With these two factors established, the consultant will be able to work with you to roadmap how you will get there, including any gaps in processes, skills, and capabilities that need to be addressed along the way.
From there comes the fun part, working on a strategy and roll out of your new customer experiences. With so many options out there, businesses often suffer from decision paralysis. What order should we do these in? How do we even implement that? What platforms and technology are out there to facilitate it? What is the best way to go about implementing it? Who should be responsible for managing it ongoing? What parts of the business will be affected by the implementation? How do we get them across it?
This is where working with an independent consultant comes in handy. With years of experience and expertise, they will be able to assist you and your entire business to assess the most valuable initiatives to take to market. Usually, this will be dictated by what your customers will gain the most value from, and in turn this will generate the most value to your business. Experts will be able to help guide you along this process from not only the design of the service or initiative, but also the level of investment required across different scales of implementation, through to the best way to execute, learn and iterate on it to continue to see higher and higher rates of return, all of which are measurable against the agreed metrics you put in place during the implementation. This not only helps the teams directly implementing the initiative to quantify and qualify results, but also serves to inform the Board and or executive team when it comes to future investment in CX, and setting KPIs for the business, teams and individuals.
With a roadmap, measures, learnings and investment solidly in place, and the knowledge of where your team lacks skills or knowledge, you have the choice to engage an agency to complete the implementation work or to undertake this yourselves with internal hires or upskilling. With the education piece completed, and KPIs set, you can also get on with the job of assessing where responsibility will sit within the organisation for ongoing management and accountability. So you’re all set right?
Well for the most part yes, you’ve set yourself up for success! However as with all evolving areas it can often be difficult to feel comfortable totally taking the reins. Again, this is where a good CX consultancy will come in to play. They will be on hand to offer advisory services as you need it. So if you see that something isn’t performing as well as you’d like it to, but you’re not sure what levers to pull to change it, you have an expert readily available to help you examine it efficacy and determine the best path forward. Similarly, if you come across something a competitor or a brand you interact with has implemented and would like to look into how it could work for your own business it’s always good to know there’s someone you can call on to help with assessing the validity of your idea or cross check any fleeting thoughts or questions for advice and guidance.
So how will this prove to be one of the best moves your business ever makes? Simply put, businesses that aren't embracing CX are circling the drain pipe. They are wasting money on product, processes, platforms and advertising while simultaneously throwing discounts and blanket sales at their customers, eroding their already small margins. The days of no visibility of customers is gone and so too should be segments of customers greater than one. Great customer experiences facilitate the exchange of valuable information about your customers which you can use to make highly informed decisions and offer targeted, personalised and timely promotions and communications to generate sales. Customer experiences provide your customers with the services, events, offers and products they want and need, and they will reward you with their ongoing loyalty in exchange for these relevant communications. Throwing irrelevant, widely targeted spray and pray advertising, or worse, ignoring them all together will have the opposite effect, seeing them unsubscribe, tune out and feel inconvenienced by your brand.
Brands who have undertaken a cultural change to truly become customer centric are winning in today's society of customers who want what they want, when they want it, how they want it. Brands like Amazon, Walmart, Nike, Nordstrom and Sephora all put their customers first, and although none can claim to be doing this perfectly, doing it well and continuing to strive for a customer first mentality has them sitting well above their competitors, all thanks to their understanding of how to deliver customer experiences to benefit their best customers.
In short, knowing where to start is often the greatest challenge for businesses looking to become customer centric and shift their focus from product to customer. Secondly, knowing what to do, how to do it and what to measure and learn from offers another set of challenges that are best left to expert guidance. Those businesses without an expert in their team (and let’s admit that’s upwards of 90% of businesses currently) are cleverly using external experts to augment their capabilities while using this time under the guidance of a CX consultant to thoroughly examine the skills, platforms and investment they need to successfully execute their strategy ongoing.
Once you understand the power of customer data and true customer centricity, the world of exceptional customer experiences is your oyster, opening up an endless realm of possibilities to delight your customers. With the right strategies, tactics, process efficiencies and capabilities in place, your business can deliver strong customer experiences and continue to excel no matter what your industry, gaining market share, and seeing much higher ATVs, advocacy and retention, while your competitors not yet playing in this space, continue on a downward spiral of wasted advertising spend and price discounting.
Arkade offers specialist CX advisory and strategy services to businesses looking to exit the discounting trap and start offering their customers exceptional customer experiences. To get started, contact Arakde via email@example.com or 03 9999 8270