In the past year, I led over two dozen workshops to help companies of all sizes map their customer experience (CX) journey.
The biggest lesson I've learned is that most people overthink what good CX looks like, but underestimate the journey it takes to get there. That's why three-fourths of companies believe they provide a strong, personalized experience, yet fewer than half of consumers agree.
Small businesses often get trapped in a cycle of reworking the same problems over and over again with little progress. No amount of brainstorming sessions or quarterly strategy meetings can fix a CX strategy that lacks a clear vision, internal buy-in and relevant metrics from the start.
Is it time to rethink your CX strategy? Here are five simple, yet effective steps to get you started in the right direction.
1. Set a clear, bright north star.
A CX north star is more than an aspiration, it's a mission that's applied and activated by every part of your business. Your north star conveys how your customers should feel when interacting with your brand-- and helps inform your investments to achieve that vision. For example, at my workplace Mobiquity, our north star is combining the best of human-focused design to help customers drive meaning for their business, and relevance for their customers.
With a clear north star in place, you can work backward to simplify complexities that get in the way of a seamless digital experience. Your north star should evolve as you reach milestones, customer expectations change or your business evolves. Fewer than half of businesses review and evaluate their CX strategy each year, despite nine in ten recognizing their CX strategy is important to success.
2. Don't assume you know what your customers want.
The executives I work with are experts with decades of product experience in their fields. They assume they know what their customers want-- but that's usually not the case. Proximity to the business can obscure objective analysis of customer demands. Before assuming what your customers want, ask them. Take misconceptions out of your strategy by employing objective, analytical methods like market research and voice of customer surveys.
You should be able to back up your decisions with research that paints a fuller picture of your customers and their needs. When the data goes against your preconceptions, be willing to change your mind. Lastly, remember that customer expectations are always changing. If you're not talking to your customer regularly, your data could quickly become irrelevant.
3. Get your teams on the same page.
CX shouldn't fall on the shoulders of your product team, or any one department for that matter. It requires participation, collaboration and, crucially, alignment from everyone in your organization.
A strong CX north star puts the consumer at the center of all of your products, services and processes-- and is a way to ensure teams across the organization are working toward the same goal.
4. Contextualize your KPIs.
Only 15 percent of businesses are satisfied with how they measure CX. But perhaps even more alarmingly, only six percent are confident that their measurement system enables strategic and tactical decision-making.
The problem? Many of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that organizations use to track engagement don't measure the heart of the matter: whether experiences are working well for end-users. For example, setting a goal to increase session time on your website might indicate increased engagement, or it could mean that your customers can't find what they're looking for.
Set KPIs that contextualize how customers interact with your products and services, rather than pushing for more engagement numbers regardless of the actual experience. As you reevaluate your metrics, consider your north star and its goals: Are your processes easy to use? Are you driving brand loyalty and emotional connections? Are you delivering what you promised to customers?
5. Bridge your CX and business strategy.
Business leaders have long underprioritized CX-- opting to invest greater resources in marketing, product development and other corporate functions that they can easily quantify. But as organizations get better at measuring digital experiences, they quickly realize the value of good CX. In fact, companies that invested in customer engagement boosted revenue by 70 percent.
There's No Need To Be Embarrassed
From startups vying for early investment to small businesses looking to scale, companies often struggle to chart a CX roadmap. There's no need for embarrassment-- it's a challenge for even the most astute business leaders.
The earlier you build a CX strategy as a small business, the fewer headaches you'll have as you grow. If you're willing to change the way you think about your consumers, you're already on the right path. With a few other best practices, you can transform how you engage your customers-- and everyone will be better off for it.