Do You Know Your Customers? CX Leaders Make It Priority 1

by Jeannie Walters

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I’m spending the week in beautiful San Diego for the Next Generation Customer Experience conference. I have some speaking duties Wednesday and Thursday, but Tuesday was just a day to take in the many great speakers discussing customer experience design.

Next Generation Customer Experience

There was one message that came through loud and clear. Before anything regarding customer experience will “work” to provide results and returns, you better do one thing:

Know your customers.

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No matter the topic or speaker, this was obviously a critical key to success. A few examples:

  • Customer journey mapping and understanding customer life cycles were a repeated theme.
  • Talia Farmer, a member of the Customer Experience Team at John Deere, discussed how they worked hard to get to know their customers in order to improve the customer experience. This included examining not just a day in the life of the farmer, for example, but a year in the life. How could John Deere support them in the cycles of their business?
  • Carol Buehrens, author of Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!, discussed how journey mapping could enlighten even the most internally-focused executive to understand the customer’s true experience.
  • Munish Gupta, Director of Social Media at Dell, shared how Dell ties their social listening strategy with product launches to understand how customers were truly experiencing the products. Were users struggling with finding features? Was there a defect which needed to be fixed? Social listening in a proactive way helped them understand the issues before they became huge problems.

And it’s not just metrics and story boards that can help you understand your customers. Each speaker mentioned how important it was to pay attention to areas which are often overlooked.

  • Front-line employees can provide tremendous insights into what your customers are really seeking or saying.
  • Channel providers, like John Deere dealers, can also share insights into what customers really want.
  • Verbatim responses from surveys should not just be seen as anecdotal until you have a way to really see if there are patterns.

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One of my favorite examples of a creative, practically cost-free way to incorporate customer experience actions into daily work is from John Deere. Each day, the department heads are encouraged to have huddles, typically standing meetings, where they discuss not only what works or doesn’t work for their customers, but also what works in general for them as customers. Sharing their own personal stories helps inspire innovation and action within their own customer experience strategies. They are also encouraged to attend other department huddles to gain insight into other parts of the journey. On an internal customer experience site, they track the ideas generated and actions they want to take. It’s a clever, quick way to help more employees truly internalize their role in improving the experience for everyone.

The question to ask is: How well do you really know your customers? Can you try one thing to get to know them better? That step will have a domino effect on your customer experience strategy.

 Image credits: Charles & Hudsonvancouverfilmschool via Creative Commons

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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, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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