There are not very many brands that can survive off of a business model that only caters for new customers, and never attempts to create repeat ones. Capturing a new customer’s attention, and convincing them to use your product or service is important, but there are only so many new customers you can realistically acquire.

The key to sustaining business success relies on keeping your customers coming back to you every time – but in a world where consumers have so many options available, loyalty can be a tricky thing to create – and retain. One way you can stand out from the crowd is to leverage customer experience.

What is customer experience?

No matter what industry you are in, there is one thing that all customers will appreciate from your brand – a good experience. Customer experience is what differentiates you from your competitors – be that in a good or bad way. A customer might forget what happened to them in your office or store, but they will never forget how they felt about it. We’ll use Coca-Cola as an example, with their #ShareACoke campaign. Coca-Cola was able to grow their sales for the first time in 10 years and managed to sell a massive 150 million personalized Coke bottles in 2014. Why was this simple idea such a success for the industry leaders? Because it created a widely shareable and personalised means of making customers happy.

While your brand may not be a “Coca-Cola” company, it can certainly learn from this idea – your customer’s experience should come first. Your top priority should be to create this great experience for them – an experience which creates positive feelings. So how do you begin to create this with your brand?

There are 5 stages to becoming customer-centric

The absence of CX Management

At this stage, your company is completely unaware of the importance of CX. At this stage, you have trouble sustaining customers, and some may even complain about poor CX. This is detrimental to a company’s growth, and overall bottom-line. There is no means of sustaining this type of business over the years.

A Basic Understanding of CX Management

At this stage, there is a basic understanding that CX is important to the company. It may be applied  in some areas of the business, but not everyone in the company fully understands it yet. CX is not a nearly a crucial component of the business in this stage but has rather become the first step towards general improvement.  

A Conscious Effort to further Develop CX Management

This stage comes with a full investigation of ways in which CX can benefit the company. A wider range of employees are grasping the idea of CX, and most of the company aims to achieve certain CX goals. It is often the case in this stage that CX becomes an outsourced task that doesn’t affect the company as a whole just yet.

Optimisation of CX Management

Once CX Management has been implemented, the exploration of improvement and ultimately optimisation of CX begins. This is where you will find a company with dedicated staff or an entire department whose sole focus is on CX development and management. CX becomes a key focus for the business and the entire company understands its importance.  

Incorporation of CX Management in the Bigger Picture

Finally, the company will reach a stage of CX maturity where CX becomes a fundamental element in every decision or process within the company. The organisational purpose becomes to please customers and give them a great experience. These companies often become the innovators in their industry and stay ahead of the competition constantly.

How do I know which stage my company is currently on?

Customer Experience Management Maturity (CXMM) is a cyclical process, and not simply one you apply in the business and later forget about. The stages constantly change, as CX management shifts and changes with the changing needs of your customers. If you want to understand what stage of maturity your company is on in terms of CX Management right now, consider the following CXMM framework aspects:

1. Data

Data is the fundamental element you require to better understand your customers and without this understanding, you cannot possibly create a great experience. There are many different ways to gather this data, such as customer feedback, surveys, mystery shoppers, and much more. You also need to analyse and understand this data in order to translate this into usable insight. CX Management Models assist businesses measure data such as Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) and provide insights that are useful in driving CX improvements.  

2. Design

The design is all about developing a plan of execution. Once you’ve acquired the data, you’ll have a better understanding of how to design your model. This design should be specific to what your company wants to achieve and should strive to meet the goals that will get you there. The result of good research before you begin designing a plan will lead to the most effective outcomes.

3. Delivery

Once your plan is developed, it’s time for action, Delivery is a stage where you put your money (and time) where your mouth is and operationalise the plan.

4. Measurement

It is not enough to simply roll out a plan without proper measurement. As mentioned, CX management is a cyclical process which means that after implementing your CX plan, you should record and measure the results. This way you can consistently improve your CX processes. Your CX measurement strategy will adapt as your business’s CX maturity develops.

5. Culture

Improving your processes will eventually lead to CX becoming a part of your company culture. This culture will affect the way your employees work, and therefore ultimately affects your customers. It is essential that CX become part of a business’s culture and way of working. Employee support and buy-in is needed to make CX a priority.  

What does it take to sustain or improve your customer experience management maturity?

Now that you have a greater understanding of which stage your company is currently at, you can decide to take steps which either sustain your current good position or attempt to improve your maturity. The steps of the process to becoming a company with mature CX Management are vital, so skipping one of the steps along the way isn’t effective. When you follow the steps, your company gradually navigates the path towards success, instead of leaping forward and making crippling mistakes. Your company needs to adapt to the changes, which will take time.

Eventually, your strongest customer experience professionals should become the leading force behind everything your company does. These employees will recognise the right and wrong behaviours and help others in the company to do the same.  

If you get customer experience right on the mark, achieving customer loyalty is simple. But it’s not always an easy process. If you feel you need assistance with the understanding of CX Management and Maturity, contact Genex Insights.