4 easy steps to start your CX Strategy
No, this isn’t the beginning of a bad joke. What these three companies have in common is a prestigious spot on Forbes’s latest list, the CX All-Stars 2023. This means that they have done an outstanding job when it comes to customer experiences (CX). In other words, Costco, Toyota, and Mario have successfully created highly valued and personalized experiences for their customers by actively involving them in every step of the customer journey.
Anno 2023, the importance of CX has reached new heights. These days, customers have all the power. To have their products and services chosen over competitors, companies must distinguish themselves and compete with similar brands for public attention. Their CX needs to be top-notch to attract and retain customers. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that CX, if strategized effectively, is the perfect catalyst for business success.
“Every day we’re saying, ‘How can we keep this customer happy?’
How can we get ahead in innovation […] because if we don’t, somebody else will.” – (Bill Gates, Microsoft)
The Costco Example
Take the example of Costco, one of America’s most famous retail giants. Just like the other big players, its purpose is to sell products and services to customers. However, Costco has taken a leading position, and its success is attributed to memorable, personalized, and seamless CX.
To illustrate, Costco does an amazing job when it comes to customizing the customer journey. Each touchpoint, varying from the consideration phase to the post-purchase phase, is carefully adapted to the customers’ personal habits (and weaknesses).
It all starts when you walk in the store for the first time. Upon your first Costco visit, you’ll be asked to purchase an annual membership, which makes going to Costco feel like you are part of an exclusive ‘club’. In return for your customer behavior and purchase data, you’ll receive personalized deals, rewards and much more. Customers will almost instantly feel a personal bond with the store, as they now have exclusive access to many great quality products for better prices.
Secondly, Costco succeeded in making one of the most mundane tasks, grocery shopping, a memorable experience. When visiting a Costco store, you will quickly realize that the store layout has been meticulously designed so customers pass through almost every aisle. Along the way, customers will enjoy various drink and food samples or an occasional free massage. The surprise-factor enhances the overall shopping experience (everyone loves free stuff, right?) and it also boosts impulse purchases. Win-win situation!
Lastly, Costco tries to simplify customers’ shopping experience as much as possible. Even in the post-purchase phase, Costco remains a leading example of customer-centricity. Its return policy is seamless and extremely lenient; customers can bring back and refund any item they don’t want any longer, even when the receipt or original packing is lost.
In conclusion, with the help of data and customer insights, Costco is able to create a unique and cherished experience out of every store visit. This is, along with a “customer is king” philosophy, the foundation upon which Costco has built its enduring legacy.
But where should you begin when it comes to improving CX?
1. Understand the as-is situation
Before tackling your CX, start with a clear mapping of the as-is situation.
- Map the data you have available when it comes to understanding the as-is CX. Do you have previous reports available? Do you already have NPS surveys or other customer satisfaction surveys in place? Which data points are you potentially missing today?
- Understand your customers’ needs and painpoints when it comes to their experiences. Study the reports you have available or collect new data by conducting qualitative or quantitative research. Don’t forget your employees’ needs in this.
- Analyse the market dynamics and trends. It is important to understand how external factors, like industry trends, technological opportunities, or changes to the socioeconomic status of people, might influence CX.
- Analyze what competitors are doing and how it affects your CX. Identify in what areas other organizations are ahead of the curve or lacking.
- Lastly, also uncover your companies needs on an organisational level and understand how it might affect the CX. Consider what role each facet of the organization plays when it comes to CX. Evaluate roles and responsibilities, data management systems, decision-making processes, etc.
2. Define the idea customer journey, highlight the gaps and list opportunities
Once there is a clear understanding of the current CX, market trends and competitors, and customers’ satisfaction, it is time to identify the gaps and opportunities of the customer journey(s). This exercise will offer a comprehensive view of the entire CX.
- A well-managed customer journey contributes to a positive CX. In other words, it is important to investigate the journeys that customers undertake. Identify on which customer journey you can have the most significant impact, usually one with a low-valued CX.
- Map each phase on the key customer journey, including pre-purchase and post-purchase. Link customers’ feelings, perceptions, and satisfaction to the different customer journey phases.
- Compile a comprehensive list of initiatives aimed at improving the customer journey. Focus on actions that are most urgent or most likely to lead to big improvements when put into action. The goal is to envision the ideal customer journey.
3. Align your organization’s future CX vision with the overall strategy
Once the ideal customer journey is mapped out but before the list of initiatives has been implemented, it’s time to step back and consider the broader perspective while refocusing on the overall CX. Keep in mind that an organization’s CX should not only cater to the target audience but also align with the organization’s strategy. Think about the mission, vision, and values of the organization.
- Upon evaluating the list of CX initiatives, know who you are doing it for and why. Make sure they fit with the organization’s objectives and purpose.
- Take Costco, they want to be known for their wide range of products, good deals, and bulk packaging. They don’t want to be niche, so in essence they shouldn’t cater to a customer with niche-related needs. In other words, only apply improvements to the CX that are an extension of the organization’s strategy.
4. Start defining and prioritizing projects
The final stage of the CX roadmap involves meticulous planning, while taking the importance as well as the feasibility (and the budget) into consideration. This way, an abstract CX vision will transform into actionable steps.
- Catalog all the previously defined projects and initiatives that are considered essential for the future CX. They should fit with the organization’s strategy. Remember that each one of these actions should directly address the gaps identified within the current customer journey. Use an impact/feasibility matrix to define priorities.
- Determine how to approach and execute each project. Establish a realistic timeline that describes each project’s starting date, its expected duration, and the anticipated completion date. Address all practical aspects and risks: who is responsible for what, when and where are changes implemented, what resources are needed, and how is success measured. Clearly identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor progress.
CX is not Customer Service
CX is not just about what is offered to customers; it’s about how it is offered, it’s about the added value that is brought at every phase of the customer journey. Costco, Toyota, Mario and other CX All-Stars have shown us that by prioritizing customer-centricity, embracing data-driven decisions, and continuously improving the customer journey, they were able to put CX at the heart of a brand’s identity and success.
Now it’s your turn to shine. Or do you need more inspiration? Then you can listen to our podcast episode on the topic, learn more about our CX expertise or maybe get in touch with our experts to share your questions! We’re also throwing an online interactive webinar on October 24: it might be a good idea to join, what do you think?