Improve Customer Experience in 3 Steps, No Matter Your Budget or Title

by Jeannie Walters

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How important is customer experience in your organization?

Most executives now consider customer experience a priority, but so many of them are still not ready to get serious about it. Yes, according to data from SurveyMonkey,  89% of C-level executives say they are “extremely invested” in CX, but we know that 89% of budgets don’t reflect that commitment.

How can you say something is important if you don’t invest in it?

Many CX leaders are asked to simply do more with less. They have smaller teams, fewer resources, and misunderstood goals. It can feel daunting to try to actually improve the customer experience when there are real challenges to overcome.

But the CX leaders I know, whether or not they have customer experience in their title, are fighters. They believe in the power of putting the customer first, investing in the employee experience, and tracking progress in order to achieve real success. They ask me directly: What can I actually do here? How can I make a difference? 

Let’s break down exactly what you can do, no matter your position, budget, or title!

Step One: Understand

Get the foundations right. 

Customer experience is often launched with tactics instead of a strategy. Someone decides “we need a journey map!” or “let’s start a Voice of the Customer program!”

These are great, but they’re only tools and won’t solve anything on their own.

Before jumping into tactics:

  • Know what success looks like and communicate it across the organization.
  • Make sure your CX efforts are aligned with overall organizational goals and values.
  • Establish the metrics and milestones you’ll track to know if those efforts were successful.

(Need help? Start with our free CX Mission Statement workbook and then define your strategy with our free CX Success Statement workbook. )

Know your customer and their actual journey.

Understanding the customer is key. That means leveraging journey mapping, customer feedback programs, and behavioral data to evaluate where the journey requires improvements. 

Prioritize what improvements to tackle based on your CX Success Statement, the organizational vision, and what resources are available. 

This is when to make an argument for what resources are needed to get a return on the investment in CX. 

(Our free Customer Interview Guidebook and Intake Form can help you learn more about your customers’ actual experience, and our free Customer Journey Map Workbook can help you map it.)

Look to the future.

What do customers want? Ask fellow leaders and leverage customer feedback. Look ahead three to five years and start prioritizing the long-term improvements that will serve well into the future.

Don’t stop with just your industry. Consider what customer-centric brands are doing to earn customer loyalty. Stay in touch with trends and predictions. Review what employees will need to stay up with these changes!

These foundational steps will help with the big picture, but you still have the power to improve customer experience incrementally. Aim for quick wins to gain trust and buy-in from leadership throughout your organization.

Step 2: Improve.

Be your own customer.

Travel your customer journey , and look for quick fixes. I bet there’s one hanging over your head right now!

A broken link, perhaps? Maybe it’s an outdated catalog item or a process that takes too long.

You need not label it a “customer experience issue” to get support from your organization. It’s broken! Make that one item a priority and fix it, then find another. The more speed bumps you remove, the better the journey will be for your customers.

As you address these items, even if it’s with a quick email to another leader, document what you’re finding and what you’re fixing. Look for ways to measure success against these changes.

Did the repaired link lead to better digital outcomes? Did service calls decrease? Make a note and then communicate these quick wins. Help others see the importance of simply fixing what’s broken for the customer.

Identify missed opportunities to charm and delight customers.

Every touchpoint in the customer journey is an opportunity to make a lasting impression.

Are your invoices boring and demanding? Are your error messages and 404 pages lifeless and utilitarian?

These are examples of great opportunities to add unexpected charm and joy to something that’s typically dull.

Maybe there is great brand marketing before the sale but lackluster customer communications following the purchase. Identify where silos and other obstacles are preventing a holistic customer journey. Ask for team collaboration to create a consistent, cohesive, and delightful experience for the customer.

Personalize your communications.

Every piece of customer communication is a chance to connect. Use names of real people as senders or callers and take the extra time to follow up with a personal message.

Your customers will feel connected to your brand when Cheryl asks if there’s anything else she can do for them, not when “service@yourdomain” confirms order #IR-1496279-8.

Cultivate an engaging company culture.

Only 30% of the American workforce is properly engaged. If your employees think you value and expect their feedback, they will actively look for ways to make improvements to internal processes, culture, and other impactful aspects of your business. Happy, comfortable, and engaged employees will go the extra mile to delight customers. 

Culture also drives collaboration on the customer’s behalf. SurveyMonkey also reported that while 62% of C-level executives say there is significant collaboration across teams for CX, only 48% of directors and just 38% of managers agree.

Look for ways to encourage collaboration and lead by example!

Step 3: Gain Advocates.

Leaders want to hear from you! But they don’t want to hear things in vague, CX-focused language. They want to hear how these investments are paying off for the overall organization. 

It’s critical to link the CX outcomes like “happier customers” with business outcomes like “lift in retention.” Get specific and share both quick wins and longer-term visions for what these programs can do for organizational success.

A word of caution here – don’t JUST share charts and numbers. Share your customer’s story. Help leaders stay connected to the emotional journey of your customer and why addressing their needs is so important to your mission.

Business people love outcomes, but remember: they’re still people. 

What are you waiting for?

You may not be able to overhaul and revitalize your total customer experience, but little improvements can make a huge impact. Customer experience is a long game and a team sport. Focus on what you CAN do to gain traction and deliver for your customers.

Who has the power to change the customer experience? YOU DO!

Yes, YOU. Now, go attack the things you can. Small victories lead to big wins.

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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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