Customer Experience Planning Questions for a Brighter Future

by Jeannie Walters

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There are times when it’s important to pause, calibrate, and plan for what’s next.

The end of the calendar year is a great time for this, but there are others:

  • The end of your fiscal year
  • As you wrap one quarter and prepare for the next
  • Before budgeting season
  • Any time changes demand you assess and adjust your goals, strategy, and tactics

In the customer experience consulting we do with clients, we typically begin this process with reflection questions which help us clearly define what worked and what didn’t.

If you haven’t read through those reflection questions yet, I encourage you to start there.

Once reflection is complete, it’s a good idea to shift your focus to look ahead and set your intentions for what comes next. Setting intentions isn’t a guarantee that your goals will succeed, but it does give them a better chance.

The late science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein summed up this idea with his quote:

“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

Robert A. Heinlein

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day firefighting of customer experience. Staying there, however, will not serve your strategy or outcomes.

To put it in more quantitative terms: According to a 2020 report from Forbes Insights and Arm Treasure Data , 83% of 200 CX executives said unimproved customer experience puts their revenue and market share at risk.

It’s clear that planning goals around CX improvement is critical. But how do we go about it in an organized way?

Try out these questions to help clarify what actions you’ll need to take. 

Set your best intentions for the future with these five questions:

1. What is our top customer experience priority? How is it aligned with our CX Mission and CX Success Statement? 

Executives often share how they struggle with identifying the TOP priority because there are just so many. That’s precisely why understanding this is so important.

Your Customer Experience Mission and your Customer Experience Success Statement both serve a great purpose here.

These two statements provide that “North Star” for considering priorities:

  • Your CX Mission might be focused on how to deliver swift, reliable experiences.
  • Your CX Success Statement will have specific goals tied to overall business outcomes, like improving the speed of delivery to earn higher Customer Satisfaction scores, which lead to more repeat purchases.

Once you have those defined, you can start seeing how to prioritize CX needs.

If your organization doesn’t have a CX mission statement and CX success statement, we’ve created free workbooks that can help you quickly get up to speed:

2. What business outcomes would be worth celebrating?

Look into the future. What would be thrilling to report at the end of the year? How would it feel to stand in front of the Board of Directors or the Executive Committee and report an increase in customer loyalty? What would that mean for the business overall?

Loyalty leaders, according to the Harvard Business Review , grow revenues roughly 2.5 times as fast as their industry peers. This type of benchmark can help you determine what might be realistic for your projected outcomes and consider what reaching those outcomes might mean for your organization.

And don’t skip over the celebrating part! For each business outcome, ask yourself:

  • What would you do to celebrate that outcome?
  • How would your leadership respond?
  • What would you do to celebrate the people on your team and in key roles who helped you get there?

Think through that in a detailed way to really believe you can get there.

3. How do we want our customers to feel about their relationship with us? What will they say about our brand?

You’ve thought about your business outcomes. Now think about your customers!

What do you really want for your customers?

No company is in the business of delivering products. Those products and services do something for customers. They help them accomplish goals, experience emotions and create a moment that’s easier, more rewarding or just happier than a moment without that product or service.

There are moments your customers have loved what you offer. There are moments when your products, services and the overall experience literally saved them – saved them time, effort, money or frustration.

  • What are those moments for your customers?
  • What should customers say when asked about your brand?
  • What are the best possible emotional responses you’d like customers to have?

Focus on those outcomes. Define what it looks like when customers get to achieve their goals because of your brand.

Predict what quotes you’ll hear throughout the year when things go RIGHT. Focus on those as a way to set intentions around the emotions you want to create for your customers.

4. What challenges do we need to overcome, both internally and externally, to achieve more for our customers and our organization?

2020 was, to put it gently, a year. There were more challenges, unpredictable changes, and obstacles nobody could have seen in their crystal balls.

In spite of that, brands still delivered for customers. Some of those obstacles aren’t worth exploring, because they were uniquely 2020 and likely — hopefully — won’t be repeated. But some challenges are here to stay and just waiting for solutions. Now is the time to examine what’s preventing great customer experience in real ways.

There are often repeated, ongoing frustrations that have nothing to do with the unique conditions of 2020. Look inside your organization for these common challenges:

  • Are leaders communicating in ways to help connect the insights gathered from customers into action?
  • Is there a clearly defined, cross-functional team to help drive the actions required?
  • Do customers have enough ways to share their feedback with us? Do we close the loop with them?
  • Is there transparency inside our organization and to customers regarding the supply chain, delivery options, and more?
  • Are there basic steps in the customer journey we all acknowledge are bad for the customer?

Once you have these obstacles listed, consider what you can do about them. How would it feel to have better communication around customer experience? What would you need to do to overcome that challenge?

Take some time to create an action plan around the biggest or most important obstacles. The first step could be as simple as talking to other leaders about addressing those challenges. Then stay focused on creating a path where next year, that challenge is behind you!

5. How will we make our customer’s journey more… FILL IN THE BLANK: (effortless/joyful/productive/fun…)

This simple question can help leaders use the right lens to understand why these improvements (and investments) are important to the overall organization.

Not sure how to fill in the blank? This is where your Customer Experience Mission Statement can come in handy! What is the promise you’ve made to customers? Are you always delivering on that promise?

Setting intentions for the future is a great way to consider if there are ways – big and small – to deliver on your promises in more meaningful ways.

One client I worked with said this question helped them consider all the ways to modernize the customer journey. Their promise was to “stay ahead” and they realized they weren’t living up to that in many ways along the customer journey. By creating real intentions around a modernization strategy, they were able to make a case to improve many touchpoints as part of this bigger project.

Live up to your CX Mission with an overall strategy around it. Doing so helps secure the right resources and develop more consistent experiences. 

Reviewing the Five CX Questions to Help You Prepare:

  1. What is our top customer experience priority? How is it aligned with our customer experience mission and customer experience success statement?
  2. What business outcomes would be worth celebrating?
  3. How do we want our customers to feel about their relationship with us? What will they say about our brand?
  4. What challenges do we need to overcome, both internally and externally, to achieve more for our customers and our organization?
  5. How will we make our customer’s journey more... effortless/joyful/productive/fun…

These questions are not meant to solve every customer experience issue, but to help you think bigger.

We’ve all been challenged in new ways. Let’s not forget our customers have been challenged too. They deserve thoughtful intentions for customer experience as we move into the future.

Creating real intentions around how we want to show up for our customers helps us focus and deliver on what’s important for them and our company. That sounds like a bright future to me.

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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