4 Ways to Kickstart your Customer Experience

By Mary McGuire (@Badgerpolo)

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4 Ways to Kickstart your Customer ExperienceI recently attended a Forrester event that focused on the impact Customer Experience can have on your organization.  It was a great session led by Harley Manning, a VP and Research Director of Forrester’s Customer Experience practice – and co-author of “Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business.”

You’re probably thinking, of course.  We always put our customers first, why wouldn’t we?  It’s important to note that there is a difference between having a customer first attitude and building a formal program around customer experience.  Harvey talked about the five benefits you realize when you make customer experience a focused business initiative:

  • Grow revenue faster
  • Earn greater pricing power
  • Reduce regulatory compliance risk
  • Lower service costs
  • Drive more purchase intent

When you see that list of benefits, it seems like a no-brainer to focus on Customer Experience, doesn’t it?  However, building the right program will take some time and resources. While I currently work at a company that places enough value in Customer Experience to have built a world class Customer Success team, that wasn’t always the case – and I know I’m not alone.

There’s a difference between having a customer-first attitude and building a formalized customer experience.Click To Tweet

While you work to formalize your customer experience program, here are four quick wins to help you get started:

1. Understand WHO your customer is experiencing.  This is one of two important parts of mapping out your customer journey.  Understanding “the who” includes noting every person, or department, your customer will interact with from their first interaction through their first renewal cycle.  Depending on the complexity of your business, that is most likely at least 5-8 people from your organization.

By mapping out the journey within your company, you can ensure two key things: 1) information is carried from one point of contact to the next, and 2) your company messaging is consistent.  Your customer is not going to want to repeat themselves over and over again.  Once they are a customer they will, and should, expect all of the initiatives, benefits and expected ROI that were discussed early on to be a part of their experience.  And, they are going to want your company’s point of view to be the same regardless of which department they are working with.  This tends to be easier for really small (i.e. start-up) companies, or very large, well established (i.e. structured) companies.  Most companies fall in between, so take this one seriously.

2. Understand WHAT your customer is experiencing.
After you’ve assessed “the who” your customers are encountering, it is important to know WHAT your customer is experiencing.  This includes interactions such as demos, trials and emails.  When you map out the multiple touchpoints that your customer experiences from start to finish, you can make sure they are being taken care of, but not overwhelmed.  A great way to ensure that there is a consistent message regardless of who is sharing content or delivering a demo, is to have a single system, such as a Sales Content Management system.  With a single system like this, you can ensure that  your customers are not only seeing consistency across content, but you can also prescribe and recommend content within the context of each customer’s specific situation, leading to an even stronger customer experience.

3. Assign ownership to customer experience. After you’ve mapped out who and what your customers are experiencing, it’s important to apply these learnings and make positive changes to the customer journey. You should then make sure that someone OWNS the experience with each customer and that your customer knows who their main point of contact is. It’s great that they know that they have a team supporting them, but they should always know the one person that they should start with, and the one person that knows what is going on across their entire account.

If possible, the best scenario is to have a dedicated Customer Success rep. This person does not need to know everything, but customer questions, feedback and communication can be filtered through them to others in sales, customer service, product or accounting, enabling a more strategic relationship.  If it’s not in your organizations plans to build a customer success team right now, at least start with a single source for all company communications.

4. Trust your gut, it’s worth it. It may sound daunting to start a customer success program from the ground up, but remind yourself that you are not starting from scratch.  It’s a matter of taking the work that is being done, noting gaps, and then building a strong program on top of that.  SAVO is the first company that I have worked for that has a true Customer Success program.  I started my career in Customer Support, in an area where I had 20 dedicated accounts, and let me tell you – yes, Customer Support is critical to an organization, but a well-oiled Customer Success team is pretty amazing to witness.  I see the relationships that our teams have with our customers, and the experience and knowledge that they bring not only to our customers, but from our customers back through our entire organization.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

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1 Comment

  1. Brooke Harper on April 15, 2017 at 12:36 am

    Great tips, Mary. Thank you for sharing. Though customer experience is not new, it is now taking a center stage. And looking at your tips, it is obvious that customers are the ultimate rock stars. I would just like to add that before kickstarting your program, make sure that your organization adopts customer-centric culture. Otherwise, your customer experience is doomed to fail.

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