How to Create a Unified Customer Experience Plan That Will Blow Your Customers Away

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You’ve learned about the three customer experience pillars. It’s time to tie it all together.

header illustration of a woman working at a desk surrounded by customer-service-related icons

Welcome to the final post in our customer experience pillars series. We’ve covered how to better understand your customer, how to consciously create great experiences, and how to build a customer-focused culture.

Now, it’s time to cover how these pillars inform a unified customer experience plan.

These three CX pillars are constantly informing each other. Customer understanding is the key to a customer-centric culture, which helps create richer customer experiences. The insight gained from testing and implementing new or revised experiences provides deeper customer understanding, and the cycle begins again.

Follow our recommendations for each CX pillar (refresh your memory with the table below), and you’ll be halfway toward a unified customer experience plan.

Understand your customer Create experiences Build a Customer-Focused Culture
Collect effectiveness data Consider pain points Keep listening
Create personas Look at personas or segments Meet your customer
Complete journey maps Ask who, what, when, how, and why Empathize with your customer
Gather external data Communicate throughout Collaborate across teams
Use a voice of the customer program Think big-picture Incentivize employees

Now, let’s take a look at what you need to get the rest of the way.

Have a central brand vision, and find places to personalize

The goal of a unified CX plan is to create a seamless system of touchpoints that gives customers the freedom to interact where and how they want while sharing a sense of brand continuity. Across channels, you should maintain a general uniformity in brand design, voice, and style.

A customer moving from social media to your website, or your website to a physical location, shouldn’t find the transition jarring.

Your central brand vision provides the foundation for personalization, which you can think of as variations on a theme. These variations aren’t at odds with your overall vision. In fact, Salesforce’s 2018 State of Marketing report found that the vast majority of marketers said personalization improves brand building (92%), customer acquisition (84%), and retention (85%).

Customers themselves want brand consistency and personalization to unify their CX while feeling that it’s tailored to their needs. Equal shares of customers expect consistent interactions across departments (78%) and are more likely to trust companies with personal information if it’s used to fully personalize their experience (78%), according to Salesforce.

Take action: Look at your customer journey map and find places that should remain as uniform as possible and areas with room for personalization.

Move from a reactive to proactive approach

Customer experience teams generally approach CX change in one of two ways, according to Gartner research (available to clients):

  1. A “fix first,” ad hoc method
    • This reactive approach involves responding to problems customers explicitly cite in your customer understanding program. While this ad hoc approach can be very successful, it is—at its core—more about putting out fires than preventing them.
  2. A progressive, routinized method
    • This proactive approach involves setting up a routinized system where you brainstorm and test CX improvements for unstated, predicted customer issues. This approach is about getting ahead and preventing fires from popping up in the first place

While an ad hoc approach still improves CX, most customers want companies to act proactively. According to Salesforce’s 2018 State of Marketing report, 62% expect companies to anticipate their needs.

A proactive customer experience approach relies heavily on the three CX pillars we’ve identified to succeed. Only with deep customer understanding can you begin to anticipate customer needs before they state them. And only with a customer-focused culture can you begin to tinker with proactively creating innovative customer experiences.

Take action: Set aside dedicated time each month to examine your customer data, journey maps, and the latest innovations in your field. Brainstorm CX improvement areas based on anticipated customer desires.

Leverage technology to do the heavy lifting

There are a number of software solutions that can help keep your customer experience plan at the forefront, and constantly improving.

Start here:

  • Customer experience software: A family of software products that enable deeper customer understanding and help you take action to improve your customer experience
  • Customer Data Platforms (CDP): A marketing system that unifies customer data across channels to analyze customers and optimize targeted communications
  • Digital Personalization Engines (DPE): A marketing and/or digital commerce system that enables personalized content via digital channels, such as websites or communications.

Looking for Customer Experience software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Experience software solutions.

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About the Author

Kristen Bialik

Kristen Bialik

Kristen Bialik is a senior specialist analyst covering customer experience for Capterra. She holds B.A.'s in English and Communications from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Journalism Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Follow her at @kebialik for insight on CX for small and midsize businesses.

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