3 Ways to Take Your Customer Experience Strategy to the Next Level

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Learn how to incorporate popular customer experience strategy initiatives into your organization.

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Customer experience (CX) needs to be an essential part of your business plan to stay competitive.

About seven in 10 customer experience management professionals (67%) say their organizations are already competing mostly or entirely on CX, according to a recent Gartner survey. By two years from now, nearly nine in 10 CX managers (86%) expect to mostly or entirely compete on the basis of CX. (Full article available to Gartner clients.)

If you want your business to beat the competition, you need to create a robust CX strategy.

In this article, we’ll cover the current state of CX marketing strategies and popular CX initiatives at other organizations. Use this information to identify gaps in your organization’s initiatives and to propose investing in improvements.

Where organizations are now in their CX strategy

Most organizations are still in the early stages of customer experience maturity, according to Gartner’s CX maturity model (full article available to Gartner clients). This model is a tool to help organizations assess where they are and where they want to be in their CX strategy and initiatives. The model consists of five levels, ranging from an ad hoc approach to a fully embedded, organization-wide approach.

About two-thirds of B2C organizations are in the earliest two stages of CX maturity, representing an initial ad hoc approach (32%) or an early established CX road map (33%). In comparison, just 5% of organizations are in the upper two levels, which are characterized by optimizing and fully embedding CX considerations across all levels of the organization.

Percentage of B2C Companies at Each Customer Experience Maturity Level

What a CX strategy looks like at different levels of maturity

To get a stronger sense of what CX maturity looks like, take a look at the following table, which lays out key characteristics of what an organization’s customer experience program looks like across the five maturity levels.

Ask yourself where your organization is now and where you want the organization to be.

From there, you can begin building a strategy to close the gap between your current level and goal level.

image with text explaining different CX maturity levels

The maturity model is not prescriptive. It’s important to note that not all organizations will even want to reach level 5, which involves continuously monitoring customer feedback to make real-time decisions. The technological and financial requirements for this approach are likely prohibitive for small and midsize businesses, not to mention the time and staffing it would require.

Take your customer experience strategy to the next level with these 3 popular CX initiatives

As you can see from the maturity model table, personas, journey maps, and a Voice of the Customer program are key characteristics that can help define where you are in the development of your CX program. Here are some tips for implementing or optimizing these initiatives.

1. Develop customer personas to better identify CX needs

A customer persona is a finely honed profile of your best or target customer and should be as specific as possible to help you visualize their wants, needs, behaviors, and motivations.

Think beyond demographic information such as age, gender, income, or geography type. Psychographic (e.g., values, opinions, aspirations), transactional (e.g., purchase histories, service records), and behavioral (e.g., engagement on your website or social media profiles) information are key components of a richly-built persona.

Where to start:

If you don’t already have a customer persona, start by working on a persona for your most valuable customer type.

Level up:

If you already have a customer persona, consider creating additional personas to acknowledge other valuable customer types. Validate your existing persona by checking back in on the data you used when you created it and updating it as needed. Use your customer personas to identify CX needs.

2. Build customer journey maps to better prioritize CX efforts

A customer journey map is an externally focused map of your customer’s experience through the full cycle of a particular journey. For example, the journey could start at the customer’s own awareness of a need and end with a product purchase, with steps for every interaction and impression in between.

The process of building a customer journey map is an act of empathy; you should put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine their actions and feelings along the way. By the end of the process, you should have a deeper understanding of gaps or flaws in the customer experience and your customer’s motivations, desires, and feelings throughout.

Where to start:

If you don’t already have a journey map, have a workshop with key stakeholders involved in any customer-facing touchpoint.

Level up:

If you have a journey map already, validate that it’s still accurate every year or so. Use your journey maps to identify pain points within your customer’s journey and brainstorm solutions.

Further reading: Learn how to plan customer-journey mapping exercises and how to use your maps when you’re done.

3. Create a Voice of the Customer program to improve CX efforts

A VoC program helps measure customer experience (CX) by capturing and analyzing multiple types of customer feedback to identify customer experience areas that need improvement. As one of the core ways to better understand your customers, VoC programs enable organizations to follow one of the foundational pillars of strong CX.

Data sources for a VoC program can include customer complaints, customer surveys, employee feedback, company reviews, interviews, and social media. Through rich, diversified sources of customer feedback, VoC programs help companies better understand customer experience and sentiment.

Where to start:

If you don’t have a VoC program in place, start by improving your customer survey program: Standardize surveys and make timing regular and consistent.

Level up:

If you already have a VoC program in place, consider adding other forms of feedback to enrich your VoC. Use this data to track progress on your CX efforts.

Further reading: Learn more about how to build a successful VoC program and other ways to better understand your customers.

Envision your long-term CX strategy goals

Using the customer experience maturity table above, ask yourself where your organization’s CX program is now, where you want it to be, and how you can get there.

Starting or improving your efforts in one or all of the popular CX initiatives laid out here (personas, journey maps, and VoC programs) is a great place to start in leveling up your CX maturity.

Visit the Capterra directory to learn about customer experience and survey software solutions to improve your CX initiatives.

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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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