CX strategy—Relationships all the way down
Customer Experience (CX) Strategy has a lot of buzz around it these days. It’s caught the attention of the C-Suite across industries, as executives search for ways to build out the more service-oriented aspects of their businesses to compete beyond price.
“Companies with the highest customer satisfaction scores generate twice as much shareholder value than those earning average scores.”—Boston Consulting Group
Everyone seems to have a solution ready. Unfortunately, this is leading to some confusion.
Is CX Strategy…
- intensive brand loyalty work, seeking the best ways to ensure that once customers choose, they stay?
- a doubling down on customer satisfaction work, and efforts to address customer-reported problems?
- a recasting of digital transformation with a renewed emphasis on using technology to introduce new, more efficient customer interactions?
At One North, we say it can be any or all of these, and more.
CX Strategy is the art of exploring the interactions that a client’s customers have with them, across touchpoints, in order to craft a future-state vision for that experience—a vision that both reinforces the client’s relationships with their customers and supports the client’s business goals—accompanied by a plan to realize that vision.
Our approach starts with learning about the relationships that inform a client’s customer experience—both the direct relationships between our client and their customers, and the internal relationships that support them. Once we have a baseline understanding of these relationships, we identify opportunities to bring new processes or technologies to bear to streamline or transform them. And we vet all opportunities with respect to business value before including them in our recommendation.
Ideally, a client’s reimagined customer experience will be intuitive and seamless from end to end—meeting customers’ needs before they even know they have them and casting our clients as their customers’ partners in meeting their goals. This is a true definition of service, and not a new goal for service-oriented organizations. What is new—and ever-changing—is the intelligence and efficiency that technology can lend to that service.
Consumers have experienced this kind of service in E-commerce for years, and it makes sense that it started there. Consumer-oriented commerce has a relatively straightforward business model and is based on simple relationships between individuals and the companies they buy from.
Today, this same kind of service-oriented experience can be made available in support of more complex relationships, from B2B commerce to logistics to enterprise software to healthcare. Taking advantage of this requires organizational adaptability—embracing new technical capabilities personally and welcoming new internal strategic partners, as technology allows them to contribute in new ways.
Most of the clients we’ve worked with have shown great adaptability when it comes to departments or divisions bringing in new technologies to complement or bolster their own processes or interactions with customers. However, the same clients are often not taking advantage of the possibilities available through realignment once these new technologies are in place. And this, too, makes sense. Realignment is hard, and confronting, and leaves people feeling vulnerable. They may look for ways to protect their positions and power within our clients’ organizations. They may resist changes that could very well help their organizations to grow and flourish in new ways. They can’t always see the benefits of change to them.
This is why we start by focusing on relationships when we do CX strategy work, and why we don’t limit our work to our clients’ direct relationships with their customers.
The work we do to understand our clients’ direct relationships with their customers (better described as our clients’ customers’ relationships to them) helps us shape a vision for their future customer experience. We surface unmet customer needs, and also explore ways in which customers’ interactions with our clients feel disjointed or difficult, and even detract from each other.
The work we do to understand our clients’ internal relationships helps us understand where real change is required to turn that vision into reality. Whether we recommend brand, marketing, support, or technology changes, or some combination of all of these, the real changes we’ll recommend will likely run deeper, highlighting opportunities for our client to collaborate more closely internally.
Simply put, CX work surfaces strategic opportunities to innovate across a client’s organization.
Grounding our work in relationships allows us to understand the human interactions and fundamental needs that shape our clients’ organizations. Introducing or refining capabilities with this context in mind positions our clients to grow and thrive.
Importantly, this work is not static. Relationships evolve, and their continual exploration, along with the exploration of how new processes and technologies can support them, builds resilience.
Which relationships in your organization deserve a closer look?
Interested in creating seamless, optimized experiences for your most important customers—and continually innovating and evolving them? One North can help.
Photo Credit: Clark Van Der Beken | Unsplash
Kat Kollett is the Director of Customer Experience Strategy, leading the CX Strategy team. She brings a multidisciplinary, user-focused approach to innovations in brand, digital, analog, environmental, and interpersonal experiences, and helps clients apply those innovations to meet their strategic objectives.