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Is your customer strategy aligned with customer experience

Acidaes Solutions

Executive Summary

As product differentiations blur, companies are increasingly turning to create customer-centric organizational behavior to establish experience based differentiation (EBD) and remain competitive. This creates unique challenges while implementing a CRM strategy in multi-department organizations with numerous customer touch points.

The term 'customer strategy' defines how an organization aligns itself to all its customer segments. Each segment should have a unique strategy specifically designed for it, based on the type of customers. Build a practical plan for optimizing relationships with customers, this is achievable if your customer strategies are well crafted, clearly articulated and have the support of various stakeholders.

Customer Experience and Your Organization

What is Customer experience?

Customer experience is summed as - a perception formed owing to all the interactions a customer has with a company or brand. Remember, every time a direct or an indirect interaction takes place, there is an 'experience' formed and it holds true at all touchpoints.

After understanding the brand bands you target viz. high-end, value-end or mass product, set your commensurate expectations from each of them. Also, ensure that they align with your customer experience. Your strategy can be to create a uniform global experience or purely value-based experience, but unless translated consciously into day-to-day operations, there will be a conflict.

Customer strategy should be embedded into all customer facing processes, people and technologies. Only adoption at all levels from top to bottom, leadership to operations, internal departments to partners, will ensure a universal customer experience.

Why is customer experience so vital?

Customer experience can be a sum of all experiences or an individual one. A consistent and relevant experience will translate to a conversion, especially if the person's perception of your brand is associated with excellence and reliability.

A single negative experience is enough to leave your customers bitter, making them vulnerable to switch and share their opinion with others. With the help of social media, an unhappy customer can escalate his dissatisfaction to friends and many others, affecting sales and rankings quickly.

The goal of Customer Experience Management (CEM) is to move a customer from being satisfied to becoming loyal. The next step is to transition the customer from being loyal to professing advocacy and then refereeing. But, the problem arises when your brand promise that sets customer expectations, is inconsistent with their experience.

It is difficult to ensure a unified experience to your entire customer base. Segmenting them on value and then customer experience can be tuned according to their importance for your organization.

To transform the customer experience within a business there are three basic inter-linked steps:

  • Listen to the business and customers - interview stakeholders, analyze, understand customer needs and carefully review competitors.
  • Synthesize the business & customers inputs - create a clear "customer experience strategy".
  • Suggest improvements - create mock-ups of your new service or product, based on the customer experience strategy.

How can you ensure that your Customer Strategy is aligned?

Unfortunately, there is no litmus test that measures the compliance of your brand strategy, but the following points may act as guidelines-

  • First-hand experience: Wear your customers' shoes to understand their experiences or make an independent party assess the same for you.
  • Proactive reviews and surveys: The most common way of checking your alignment is by conducting surveys and analyzing the opinion of your customers.
  • Feedback management: Take early feedback and follow-up using workflows, before they escalate into grievances. Customers often resort to their social networks to criticize, appreciate, discuss, promote or make suggestions; these comments need to be taken into consideration
  • Monitoring mechanism: Measure CSAT and QoE (Quality of Experience) to understand the overall level of customer satisfaction
  • Employee engagement: Verify if your employees are bought-in to what is being done and aligned with the effort. Low employee morale will lead to unengaged customers, improve the environment and provide adequate training.

Challenges faced while implementing a customer centric solution

  • Solutions are spread across multiple applications, processes, stakeholders and departments.
  • Not all customers are the same - identifying and segmenting customers into various bands based on their needs and value remains a big challenge.
  • Internal aspirations and commitments of every stakeholder is different and hence to have a consensus for a single focused strategy is very difficult.
  • Implementing a customer centric solution takes considerable time and it is expensive to deploy.
  • CRM solution designed with clearly articulating the customer strategy is bound to fail.

How can CRM help align your strategy with customer experience?

Getting value out of CRM is not just choosing and implementing the best CRM products. It is more fundamentally about how customer experience is created through organization alignment and building a step-by-step plan that extracts value in the long run. The brainstorming over customer strategy and its relation to customer experience in your organization is just the beginning.

Based on our experience, we believe a carefully designed CRM solution is an enabler for customer experience and helps in following ways:

  • CRM translates customer strategy into processes that are automated through technology.
  • Incorporate strategy into every customer facing function - pre-sales, sales and post-sales service through the CRM solution.
  • Maintain a consistent customer experience using multi-channel integration on a single platform.
  • Ensure that every customer touching experience is driven using an SLA enforced process by employing escalation and exception reporting.
  • Empower your employees, partners and all stakeholders by sharing customer information and actionable insights.

We believe that a correct customer strategy is a business imperative and a complete organizational transformation is required to create success.

Conclusion

Aligning company strategy with customer experience can be time consuming and expensive, but it rewards your organization with customers who are loyal and spread their positive feedback. To achieve a competitive advantage it is imperative to match your brand's promise with its customers' expectations.

Effective CRM solutions ensure that your customer segments are serviced as per your company's strategy through cost-effective enablers and automation. Customer information from all touch-points is integrated to 0create a 360 view of each for highly efficient follow-ups and opportunities to ensure customer satisfaction. Analyzing the past and future relationship of your customers with your company based on their experiences helps generate better value for today.

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