A customer experience (CX) strategy encompasses three dimensions: goals, breadth and depth, and is not to be confused with a CX plan, which is the execution of the strategy. According to Gartner, CX strategy answers the questions of where an organization intends to play – which customers, geographies, etc. – how it intends to win and the resources needed to get there.
When an organization sets specific goals and determines the breadth and depth of CX considerations, a CX strategy that answers the questions of where to play, how to win and what resources are needed begins to take shape, providing a roadmap to follow in subsequent planning stages.
Looking more closely at goals, breadth and depth as dimensions of a CX strategy reveals the pervasive nature of customer experience, touching every possible interaction a customer may have with an organization. CX strategy, then, will naturally differ from business to business and industry by industry, although a common trait will be determining what data matter according to the metrics an organization is trying to drive.
CX Strategy Dimension No. 1: Goals
Setting CX strategy goals is a fairly straightforward exercise. Some will be common across organizations; the desire for customers to have consistent, relevant and valuable interactions, for instance. Some will vary by organization, maturity, industry and even the type of relationship a brand or business is trying to build with a customer. Defining CX goals ultimately determines what data needs to be collected, calculated or inferred, depending on whether net promoter score (NPS), customer lifetime value (CLV), customer sentiment, customer satisfaction, another metric or any combination thereof is the priority.
Consider, for instance, a consumer who purchases a kayak from a sporting goods company. Regardless of metric, the company will obviously want the customer to have a positive experience across all digital and physical channels, and will take the necessary steps to ensure as much. But if NPS is prioritized, letting the customer schedule a delivery time may supersede sending a discount offer on a complementary item, which might be the preferred course of action if CLV was the overarching goal.
Whether in healthcare, retail, financial services or another industry, there are countless ways to define and measure a positive customer experience. CX strategy goals largely rest on how the experience is measured on an industry-by-industry basis.
CX Strategy Dimension No. 2: Breadth
One way to understand breadth in terms of customer experience is to consider the array of potential channels and touchpoints that constitute all stages of an omnichannel customer journey, and enumerate the variables and relations required to measure how different types of customers choose to interact.
In the buying journey, for instance, a prospect has different reasons for visiting a website, contacting a call center, researching reviews or engaging with social media than someone further along in the specific buying journey. A repeat customer may behave completely differently than a new customer, even if both are engaging with the same channels. Likewise, an older customer demographic may have different expectations for what constitutes a positive CX than a younger demographic.
Incorporating breadth in setting CX strategy recognizes that customers have different motivations for engaging with various touchpoints. A one-size-fits-all CX, in other words, may delight some customers while frustrating others. Paying attention to the breadth of experiences helps alleviate potential friction before it arises.
CX Strategy Dimension No. 3: Depth
Depth is perhaps the most interesting dimension of a CX strategy in that it can be a proverbial “rabbit hole” situation where once you start exploring and experimenting with various levers, many more possibilities arise for extending the CX through line.
It’s fairly well understood that a positive CX entails far more than integrating customer data into a single customer view and using this unified profile to put the right offer in front of a customer. The far end zone, if you will, is harder to gauge. The picture becomes clearer with an understanding of how people, processes and technology affect an overall customer experience at each possible touchpoint.
Website design, for example, becomes integral to CX goals. A range of considerations – design, images, ease of navigation, etc. – must be decided not only according to the experience on a landing page, but also as to how a website visit unfolds. A website visit is its own subset of the greater customer journey; the various stages and rhythm within a series of clicks foretell the overall CX as greater than the sum of its parts.
The same is true for every touchpoint, and for managing interactions and the overall experience throughout all aspects of a customer journey. When a kayak arrives at its destination, is it easy to unbox? Are instructions for affixing a seat or adjusting footrails the first thing a customer sees? Is there perhaps a guide with directions to local lake and river boat ramps? Does it include a thank you note? Cleaning instructions?
Considering depth in CX strategy is essentially making decisions pertaining to where and when efforts to delight a customer end. If opportunities are indeed finite, what is the natural ending point? Because it is possible – and relatively easy – to make the wrong decision. The dreaded “creep factor” is a prime example. Sending a customer an SMS about an item left in a shopping cart might be intended as helpful to guide a journey forward, but if it arrives five minutes after the item is placed in the cart the recipient may be more appalled than thankful.
Cadence is another element that contributes to the depth of customer understanding. Cadence that aligns with a customer’s wants and needs helps provide a seamless CX and avoid friction pitfalls. Sending a customer a coupon for 10 percent off of a product they just paid full price for highlights the importance of getting cadence right. Similarly, choosing how often to send an email, display a banner ad, or pop up an offer to chat can affect both customer experience and marketing cost.
Cadence is intricately related to having a real-time capability; a brand must be as real time as a customer’s journey dictates, dialing it up or down as needed to create a delightful, personalized CX synchronized to the cadence of the customer. In addition to real time, cadence is also related to frequency. Important considerations include not just frequency of messages, but on which channels, what time of day, how much detail to include, when to include a follow-up communication, etc.
Setting goals and determining the breadth and depth of CX strategy essentially boils down to striking the right balance between an organization’s goals and a customer’s goals. A strategy must recognize the breadth and depth of every customer touchpoint – online, in-store, mobile app, social, call center – and determine how to manage a holistic customer experience that factors in a customer’s aspirations while providing the pitch perfect amount of personalization.