Providing Great Customer Experience? Good—Now Keep It Up

Smart firms recognize that even if you deliver a great customer experience today, it isn’t going to stay that way on its own. Customer experience success requires a lot of ongoing work.

Providing Great Customer Experience? Good--Now Keep It Up

Sometimes the ability to deliver a great customer experience happens at the beginning. Meaning that a combination of skill, strategy, focus, and customer obsession has an organization “getting it” from day one, and the organization continues to focus on it as it grows and changes over time.

Of course, these firms include the leaders we all know, such as Amazon, Zappos, Ritz Carlton, and USAA, to name a few. This also includes thousands of other less-well-known firms around the world that understand and delight their customers on a regular basis, though on a smaller stage.

Not surprisingly, these companies share several common traits. Because they all recognize that even if you deliver a great customer experience today, it isn’t going to stay that way on its own. They know that the art and science of customer experience success requires a lot of ongoing work.

If your firm delivers a great customer experience today–and wants to keep doing so as you grow, or as markets, competitors, and customers inevitably change–here are three of the most powerful success factors that enable today’s customer experience leaders to continually lead the pack.

Aligned Business, Brand, And CX Strategies

Looking to the 1980 business classic “Competitive Strategy” and 1993’s the “Discipline of Market Leaders,” there are only three basic business strategies. The first is cost leadership or value. (Think Costco.) The second is differentiation or product leadership (Apple). The third is a segmentor or customer intimacy strategy (USAA).

CX leaders make sure business, brand, and CX strategies tightly align. For example, Apple is a product leader; customer expectations are for innovation. And the brand both promises and delivers on those expectations. What drives your economic engine is clear. Customers know what to expect, and your people know what to deliver. You get the idea.

A Customer-Centric Culture

Creating and maintaining a customer-centric culture is one of the hardest things any organization can do. It’s also critical. Why? Because only through a shared understanding of values and the behaviors required to deliver on the promise of the brand can an organization make continual progress toward its customer experience goals.

Organizations like Amazon and Zappos are relentless in their pursuit of this culture. Executives lead by example, and vision is clearly communicated. Customers are at the center of decision-making. Employees know what is required of them and have incentives to behave in those ways. And supporting systems–technology, data, and processes–are aligned to enable them.

Customer Understanding

Most organizations collect customer feedback, yet less than a third systematically drive these insights into decision-making. But CX leaders do. Well beyond using data, they have a crystal-clear picture of who they’re serving. They know their customers well enough to empathize with them and recognize that only through understanding can they continue to deliver against expectations.

They have true voice-of-the-customer programs, where insights are continually gathered, analyzed, shared, and acted on across their organizations. They have rich segmentation models, defined customer persona, and know the journeys most important to each, and they use these insights to continually improve.

Well-aligned and properly implemented strategies are critical for companies that want to keep delivering great customer experiences. A customer-centric culture is core to delivering on those strategies. And deep customer understanding is required to deliver a complete picture of who your customers are, what they want and feel, and how great the customer experience actually is.

In a world of ever-smarter customers and many competitors working to differentiate by customer experience as well, modeling the skills, strategies, focus, and customer obsession that have kept leaders continually delivering ever better customer experience is the best way to keep your firm’s customer experience on track as well.

See what the Twitterverse is saying about customer-centricity: