The 3 Facets of Customer Experience

by Jeannie Walters

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Leaders come to me with similar challenges again and again when it comes to customer experience. They are often assigned a CX leadership role without much more than a vague job description and audacious goals like “move the needle” on customer loyalty and “create a superior customer journey for every customer, every time.”

These goals, while aspirational, are not really meaningful to the business overall, to the other leaders in that organization, and perhaps most tellingly to the customers they serve.

It’s great to think big. But I’ve come to realize many leaders believe customer experience is magic.

I believe customer experience is not magic. It’s management. It’s a habit. It’s the effort that leads to great outcomes.

That’s why I’m excited to share a different way to think about customer experience.

I’ve often said Customer Experience has three facets:

  1. Customer experience is a mindset.
  2. Customer experience is a strategy.
  3. Customer experience is a business discipline.

Customer Experience success requires all of these three things to be successful — just one or two won’t do.

What do I mean by each of these terms? Let’s investigate.

1. Customer Experience is a Mindset.

It’s imperative that everyone in the organization understands the daily actions of employees, the way offers are made and products are sold, and every other part of the journey is part of the customer experience.

This means defining what customer experience should be for your customers in real terms.

This is where a CX Mission Statement can be so helpful.

Related Resource: Download our Free CX Mission Statement Workbook

Without an understanding that CX is not a singular process or product, it’s not a project or program, it’s much bigger than that. It’s also happening whether you’re managing it or not.

Related Article: Customer Experience Management Defined: How is it Different From CX?

It’s a belief system of sorts:

  • How do we want to treat our customers?
  • How do we prioritize their needs?
  • What can I personally do in my role, regardless of if it’s customer-facing or not, to help us deliver on our CX Mission?

Mindset is what helps everyone move forward together. Without a clear, comprehensive mission for what you want to do for customers, not just what to sell to them, it’s easy for an organization to work in siloes and create friction throughout the customer’s journey.

One common way I see this play out is between CX and marketing teams. Both teams might both believe they are creating the “best” customer experience. Most marketing teams believe they are tightly aligned with CX teams, but most CX teams do not agree. 

According to the Pointillist 2021 State of Customer Journey Management and CX Measurement report , top-performing CX and marketing teams are 2.1 times more likely to regularly collaborate on CX initiatives and to be tightly aligned on customer-centric approaches and goals than underperformers. 

Collaboration can only happen if there is a shared mindset around customer experience.

 

2. Customer Experience is a Strategy.

CX is a winning business strategy. It’s not passive or a “nice to have.” It’s one of the only ways a business can achieve better business outcomes, deliver value, and achieve more. But today, it is most likely missing from your strategic plans.

Just like a business can’t thrive without sales, it can’t thrive without intentionally leading through positive customer experiences.

Strategy means understanding what outcomes you are seeking and then putting in the right efforts to achieve those outcomes. That means knowing that customer experience will deliver on business goals – not just “CX” goals.

A CX strategy means understanding how customer experience outcomes will drive overall business outcomes. It means defining exactly what success means to your organization.

This is why we recommend a CX Success Statement.

Related Resource: Get our Free CX Success Statement Workbook

Strategy is never a “nice to have” or something that drives results accidentally. Strategy is what leaders provide in clear, meaningful ways. Customer experience is not just a winning strategy, but it is a consistently winning strategy. And yet it’s often treated like something that should just “happen.”

The biggest benefit to organizations that prioritize CX: they get ahead of the competition. The Adobe and Econsultancy 2021 Digital Trends report states “More than two-thirds of the companies with top-tier CX functions outpaced their sectors in the second half of 2020 and they were three times more likely to have ‘significantly outpaced’ their sectors than the rest of the sample.”

 

3. Customer Experience is a Business Discipline.

Successful sales professionals often say the same thing. It’s not the one call that makes the sale. It’s the daily discipline of making the calls, following up consistently, and measuring the right things to evolve and adapt.

We accept and acknowledge that without consistent effort, our sales results won’t magically happen. Our sales strategy won’t work without discipline.

Why do we treat customer experience differently? When I ask leaders about their customer experience habits, they say things like:

  • We have an annual customer experience day.
  • We offer customer experience training as part of our onboarding program.
  • We send surveys and report the results.

Those are all really great things to do. But that’s not the discipline really needed to deliver on a successful customer experience strategy. The business discipline required means that FIRST, you must know what your mission is, what your strategy is, and what actual outcomes you’re aiming for.

Then you line up the daily efforts and consistent business discipline to deliver on those.

That means CX discipline requires:

  • Clear goals, measurements and reporting structure
  • Consistent communication around the voice of the customer, their stories, their journey
  • Well-defined roles and responsibilities for not just the customer experience team, but for everyone who plays a role in customer experience (spoiler alert: that’s everyone!)
  • Ongoing education around customer experience and what success means at your organization

The business discipline around CX includes governance, prioritization, hiring and training practices, and so much more.

It’s about the consistent efforts throughout the organization that add up to deliver the positive outcomes you’ve defined in your CX Strategy.

Bottom line: customer experience requires the same kind of management, attention, AND aspirations as any other part of the business. It’s not magic. It’s so much better than that!

Recap & Next Steps:

Next time someone asks, “What is Customer Experience, really?” You can tell them it has three facets:

  1. Customer experience is a mindset.
  2. Customer experience is a strategy.
  3. Customer experience is a business discipline.

How can those facets be applied to your organization?

In future articles, I’ll be investigating the four commitments of Customer Experience:

  1. Intentional Leadership
  2. Cultural Commitment
  3. Customer Collaboration and Connection
  4. Experiential Innovation

If you’d like to be the first to see these articles as they’re released, make sure to sign up for The Weekly Win , my weekly newsletter with my musings on customer experience along with resources to help you take your customer experience to the next level.

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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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