Strategic First Steps To Great Customer Experiences

When discussing how to improve customer experience, many business leaders will turn toward their marketing and customer service teams for solutions. But the companies that have succeeded in building amazing experiences take a much different approach: they look at customer experience as a strategic initiative that involves the entire organization.

On Monday, Promotional Consultant Today discussed an emerging trend toward companies receiving lower customer experience scores based on a gap between accelerating customer expectations and the ability of most companies to deliver on those expectations. Yesterday we looked at some potholes to watch out for in trying to improve customer experience in this new environment of inflated customer expectations. Today, this series starts looking at what it might take to ratchet up those customer experience scores with insights from brand expert Denise Lee Yohn.

Organizations that deliver exceptional customer experiences have made customer experience a strategic imperative that involves all parts of the organization, says Yohn. She specifically calls out how three unexpected departments can be most influential in the success of this initiative.

Operations. Silos across all aspects of operations need to be broken down. A system where one part of the operation completes a process and hands that off to another, like buyers securing merchandise and then handing the merchandise off to retailers, has to become integrated, agile, collaborative and flexible in order to respond to the fast-changing needs and expectations of consumers.

Finance. Most finance departments track expenses and results by department and activity, with metrics like product margin, sales by category and shipping costs. In a customer experience environment where results are measured by customer outcomes over time, not by isolated metrics, this approach may not be appropriate. The finance team may need to find ways to parse out the complexity of the holistic customer experience and focus on the customer, not operating results.

Human Resources. Creating exceptional customer experiences requires first creating a corporate culture that supports and rewards this goal. In order to understand and support the customer experience goals, the employee experience needs to developed and maintained with the same goals in mind.

Although all three are important to supporting a strategic approach to customer experience, the most difficult step for most companies is building a corporate culture that fully supports the customer experience goals. In tomorrow's Promotional Consultant Today we will take a deeper dive into what it takes to build and maintain this culture.

Source: Denise Lee Yohn is the go-to expert on brand leadership for national media outlets, an in-demand speaker and consultant and an influential writer. Yohn is the author of the bestselling book What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest (Jossey-Bass) and the new book FUSION: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World's Greatest Companies. She has also been an expert source for media outlets including FOX Business, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. The Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) named her blog as one of the "Top 20 Marketing Blogs Executives Actually Read."

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