strategy: Your CX
strategy should
put customers’
needs first

Author: Amrita Singh

It goes without saying that customers are at the core of your customer experience strategy. But all too often, an organization’s CX strategy gets built without prioritizing what its customers think, feel and want.

Imagine a company that has grown based on offering a high-touch, personalized approach to meeting each customer in a physical location and providing them with products and services tailored to their needs. Then, to reduce costs and serve more customers, the company shifts its CX strategy to a primarily digital approach, using artificial intelligence (AI).

With advances in technology, it is not uncommon for organizations to look for ways to adopt AI and automate their CX processes when it comes to developing a customer experience strategy. Instead of coming to a physical location, customers are now directed to visit a website or use a mobile app, where they can place their order in seconds. An algorithm provides recommendations for other products they might like, too.

AI often results in greater efficiencies that benefit CX, so it’s natural for the company to assume that customers will be thrilled by the speed and convenience these digital processes offer. But implementing AI or automating processes may not always be the best customer experience strategy. For example, maybe customers liked the human interaction and conversations and advice they got from staff they met on-site. In this case, sales could actually decrease, at least at first, and satisfaction could go down as well. 

Balance automation with customer preference

That doesn’t mean you need to avoid or ignore opportunities to automate processes. But when it comes to developing an effective customer experience strategy, keep in mind that automation isn’t an end in itself—a great customer experience is. What’s needed is a CX strategy that begins with a close look at customer preferences and needs and manages change in a way that’s comfortable for them as experiences evolve.

There isn’t one way to successfully automate a business process, because every business is different. There are, however, some processes that are common to many of them. Examples include helping customers order or buy a product, answering questions about how to use a product, setting up or changing a customer account, and upgrading a service. 

Create a customer experience strategy that brings value to customers

It’s easy to see technology as a way to make something happen faster or as a way to offer something through a different channel. Your customer experience strategy, though, should be based on how technology will get a process done in a way that brings greater value to customers.

This means having a solid understanding of how customers rate the way a process is done today. Look within your customer satisfaction scores, Net Promoter Scores or engagement data to identify what customers like about the current state and areas for potential improvement. Once you know where you need to step up, then you can identify the right technology to help you get there.

Develop a CX strategy that keeps customers informed

A customer experience strategy that keeps customers in the dark is likely to backfire. When new ways of having an experience come as a surprise, customers tend to be wary or even resistant. They may feel you’ve made assumptions on their behalf that aren’t necessarily true. A successful CX strategy involves communicating with customers early and often, using a variety of methods to solicit their input directly.

A customer experience strategy doesn’t simply mean asking customers whether they would like to order from a kiosk rather than a person at a counter, or whether they would like to solve service issues themselves through a chatbot or portal. Customers may not be sure, since they haven’t tried such experiences before.

Whether you use surveys, focus groups or other feedback mechanisms, aim for questions that will pinpoint both the positive aspects of the existing process as well as areas of friction. That way, you’ll be able to develop a customer experience strategy that aligns closely with their unmet needs but aims to preserve what’s best about the experience you’ve been offering.

This process may reveal that automation will work best for some segments of your customers but not all. To help ensure the success of your CX strategy, be prepared to automate where you have the best chance of achieving customer buy-in and to continue exploring options for other segments. 

Phase, iterate and continue to listen

You don’t always have to treat CX changes as though you were flicking on a master switch. You can start small, for example, with a pilot project involving only a percentage of your customer base to assess whether you’ve understood their preferences.

The deployment plan should not only include the technologies you’re using to automate a process but also how your team could play a role in managing the transitions.

Banks learned this by having branch employees approach customers in long lines to explain ATMs in the early days. Many companies are using a customer experience strategy that ensures their best agents can intervene in chatbot conversations that require empathy or specific expertise.

Finally, never stop evaluating your progress and checking in with customers, always remembering to keep them at the core of your customer experience strategy. Learn more about how Verizon can help you develop a customer-centric CX strategy and use automation to achieve better business outcomes.

Amrita Singh is Manager, Product Marketing Customer Experience and Contact Center Solutions at Verizon.