Deciding you want to become a customer experience focused company is a great move, but a big decision. It involves a lot of planning, strategy and execution, which can sometimes mean changing the ways entire departments are run.
Of course, the best strategy in the world is useless unless you have a great team who can execute it properly.
The best customer experience teams facilitate changes in the way organisations function. Traditionally, departments would work independently from each other, with very little overlap between their workloads or projects. Customer experience teams are changing this arrangement by integrating projects across business functions, and creating a holistic environment where everyone can work together.
The question is, how do you set about building the best possible customer experience team?
To make sure you set off on the right foot, here are 7 things to keep in mind as you build your ideal customer experience team.
- CX involves every function of the business
The first thing to remember is that customer experience encompasses the entire customer journey: from the moment the customer first comes into contact with your brand and every single interaction they have thereafter. The journey doesn’t stop at the point of sale, the customer experience lasts as long as the customer engages with your brand, which could span minutes or years.
Because of this, customer experience needs to work with every function of the business that directly, or indirectly, affects the customer’s journey.
Breaking down department silos are necessary in order to keep internal communication between teams clear, so that they can work together to deliver projects faster and more effectively. For example, marketing needs to have direct access to development teams, who need to communicate with sales teams and customer support teams, and vice versa in a multitude of different ways.
All of these departments share responsibility in managing customer experience, so it’s vital that silos are broken down to allow communication to flow and become more in line with each other’s projects.
As such, the customer experience team isn’t strictly a static business function, but a more fluid team which works with different teams for different projects.
- Don’t allow one function to own CX
Many organisations struggle to place their customer experience team: where should the CX team sit? Should it sit independently of the other business functions?
In many cases, the customer experience team sits within the marketing department, but this isn’t necessarily the best idea.
Although marketing plays a vital role in cultivating customer experience, it doesn’t own the entire customer journey.
Siloes can form if the customer experience team which sits within another department, because naturally, this may produce a disproportionate weighting towards one area of the customer journey.
As another example, if the customer experience team sat within the website development team, it will hardly be surprising if a lot of the strategy focuses on optimising the website experience. In an era where customer journeys are becoming increasingly omnichannel, customers interact with multiple touchpoints across their journey, so the customer experience across all of these touchpoints needs to be consistent, not just one or two.
A good way to ensure consistency is to give ultimate ownership of customer experience to the company’s leadership team, so that the message can be funnelled down equally throughout the various functions of the business.
- Keep the team varied to keep things productive
There’s a fine line between a creating a melting pot of ideas and having “too many cooks spoil the broth”. This is why it can take a bit of trial and error before striking the right balance between generating new ideas and maintaining productivity.
To deliver a great customer experience, every customer touchpoint needs to be well considered. As different business functions own different areas of the customer journey, this can happen more effectively if team members varied in terms of expertise and relationships with the customer.
For example, a creative marketer could be great at thinking up imaginative ways to engage audiences, but will also need the guidance of someone in a customer facing role, such as customer services or sales, for insights into how customers may respond to different ideas.
Therefore, the team members don’t only have to be able to work alongside other departments, but have an understanding of each department’s role in the customer’s journey. That way, better ideas can come to the surface and the team will be able to form a more cohesive strategy.
- Encourage team members to share ongoing projects with each other
There are times when different departments may have to come together to work on a particular customer experience project, but once the project has gone live it’s important that the teams continue to work together to ensure the project’s success.
Here’s an example.
A marketing team wants to add an extra couple of fields in the check-out section of a retail website, to allow customers to save their shopping preferences. The idea is that this will help to improve their online experience in future. The marketing team works with the website development team to design and deliver this project. A month later, it goes live.
Over the following weeks, the customer services department receives a spike in complaints about the new feature, explaining that it was a nuisance to their journey. It’s important that the customer services department reports this back to the marketing and development teams so that the problem can be fixed and customers aren’t negatively affected by the change.
- Include input from team members from a range of levels
A great way of improving customer experience is to remove barriers which can hinder the customer’s journey. Therefore, it’s important that the team involves members from across the management hierarchy, so that these barriers can be more easily identified. Typically, top level management and director level execs handle manage the overall strategy, but it is the more junior members of the teams who often deal directly with customers on the ground.
People who deal with customers on a daily basis can provide valuable insights into customer pain points, wants and needs and are more in tune with how customer satisfaction can be affected by changes in strategy. At the same, leadership is necessary to ensure that strategies remain focused and ensure that they keep in line with the overall brand messaging.
- Make everyone in your company a CX ambassador
So, too many cooks can certainly spoil the broth when we’re talking about creating a strategy. However, if we want to deliver a great customer experience to every customer, the entire company needs to be behind it.
Becoming a customer experience focused company sometimes means a shift in the company’s overall strategy. So, for it to be successful, everyone must be aligned on the company’s key aims and focuses. It’s important that internal communication is strong enough to engage every member of staff, to help unify the company towards the same goal. After all, customer experience is set to be the key brand differentiator by 2020, becoming more important than price or product – so staff all need to understand its importance to the overall health of the company.
One way to do this is by articulating your company’s philosophy in a simple and easy to understand phrase or sentence. That way, the brand’s focus is easy to remember and serves as a constant reminder of why it’s important to deliver a good customer experience.
Disney is a great example of a company who have used their tagline to communicate their commitment to excellent customer experience to both customers and staff members alike. Disneyland’s slogan “The Happiest Place on Earth” is so well-known that even people who haven’t visited Disneyland are familiar with it.
It works well because it does exactly what it says on the tin: Disneyland’s entire philosophy is to make people happy, which is entirely down to the experience the customer receives when they interact with the brand. Every team member understands the purpose of the company, so everyone instinctively works to deliver this experience to their customers.
- Your customers are your extended CX team
Here’s the best part about becoming a customer experience focused company: the fruits of your labour pay off BIG time when it comes to customer advocacy.
If you’re able to maintain a consistent customer experience, your customer loyalty increases and soon your customers will become your biggest brand advocates. This is a pretty big deal when it comes to your company’s bottom line too, as 92% of people are likely to believe a friend or family member’s recommendation over any form of advertising.
The most important thing to remember when building a customer experience team is how you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand.
Once you’ve come to a consensus on what that means, it’s about making your company environment a place where customers want to spend time, rather than have to spend time. A strong, varied team who share the same vision is vital in making this possible, but the team doesn’t stop there.
The truth is that building a great customer experience involves everyone within the journey, every staff member and even the customers themselves. So, take the time to understand why your current loyal customers choose to do business with you and build a team which supports and maximises that experience.
It will take a while, so don’t expect overnight success. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
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