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07.12.16 | blog
Author: Stephen Bengtson

3 Ways to Make Customer Experience a Strategic Priority

Ask the Right Questions

Intuitively, every company is all about customer experience.

But when it comes to making it part of your strategic planning efforts for your business, where does it stand? How do you track it, measure it, incentivize it and tie it to economic gain? How do you align the organization?

According to a 2015 survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, nearly half of executives said customer experience should be a strategic imperative. However, the vast majority of companies struggle to tie customer experience investments to business outcomes—even companies at the leading edge. The 50% of executives interviewed all seemed to struggle with two key challenges:

What should success look like? Customer-orientated, organizational, financial?

How do we best measure it in terms of true business impacts, whether it be sales, revenue, lowering operational costs, profitability, boosting customer satisfaction, lowering customer attrition and increasing lifetime customer value?

It’s all about balance.

Expert Joseph Pine states that, “Experiences are what come naturally after goods and services.” And while there are myriad ways to look at customer experience, at its core is this: the exchange of goods and services for value and economic gain. Unfortunately, it’s all about perspective; yours and mine, the customers and the firms. Which is why Warren Buffet probably expressed it best when he said, “Price is what you pay and value is what you get.”

A Balancing Act

Your financial team will be focused on the numbers. Your sales team will be focused on the product or service sale. Your customer operations and service delivery teams will be focused on how best to deliver on both: what was sold, the economics of generating a return for the firm while engendering customer loyalty. Between each of these vitally important organizational constituents sits the customer. The best bet? Finding a balanced, measured approach that links all of these interests and objectives together, with the customer at its pinnacle. The framework to achieve this requires these three key directives:

  1. Dialogue: Engaging sales, operations, finance, and customer leadership in meaningful dialogue to advance the business strategy as the customer experience strategy—making it one and the same.
  2. Balance: Crafting a balanced scorecard supported by data, advanced analytics and reporting, that captures the proper mix of customer-centric, operational and financial, qualitative and quantitative, leading and lagging metrics to gauge performance and return on investment.
  3. Action: Instilling and driving organizational change and adoption of the customer experience strategy as business strategy, from the C-suite to the mail room, from the accounting floor to the sales and customer front-line.

Focus on Success

When you bridge the divide between internal groups of operations, finance, and sales to align with a balanced scorecard, it puts both the customer interests and company financial interest ahead of the game. If the impact of your customer experience can’t be measured, there is likely little to no financial or customer gain that can be decisively evaluated.

Placing your bets in a smart way, like with the Arise platform, is an effective avenue to generate a return on your customer experience investment. Likewise, making a concerted organizational change to drive the intended business return will result in visible, tangible payback. When you know specifically how and why the customer experience was good, and what the business return was, your business and your customers will prosper.

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