Customer Centricity Means Time and Money. Is it Worth It?

December 5, 2016 Michele Fitzpatrick

planning for customer centricity

Customer centricity, the customer journey and the customer experience are the big buzz in marketing. But customer centricity takes a lot of time and money. How can you be sure it’s paying off? You’re making changes, but are they the right changes? You have 1,000 priorities; what’s your best course of action RIGHT NOW?

You’re not alone in asking these questions.

I often see marketing executives that have good intentions around understanding and improving the customer experience. But in many cases, the financial business case isn’t formed enough or the success metrics aligned well enough to determine if the investments delivered an improved financial return for the company.

Senior marketing executives need a concrete, reliable method of getting from the idea of customer centricity to actually improving customer experience. And you’re playing against the clock. With limited budget and limited patience to wait for the ROI. Add to that, the need for new investments to be self-funding. No wonder it can be so difficult to get from the idea of customer-centricity to scalable business impact.

In my experience, there are four things you need to have in place to make sure your customer experience strategy and execution work can justify the investment and, at the end of the day, prove it worked:

  1. Data, insights and understandings that go way beyond NPS, clicks, calls and routine transactions.
  2. A more integrated plan and platform for technology and enablement tools to tie all the parts and pieces together.
  3. Skill and agility to create the content and assets required to fuel the myriad of conversations to be had with the customer and to make the experience contextually relevant and meaningful.
  4. Focus and diligence on things that significantly impact both the customer and the business in a positive, incremental and measurable manner.

Let’s take a closer look.

1. Data, Insights and Understanding

Marketers need to understand what the consumer is trying to accomplish at each twist and turn of the buyer journey and the customer lifecycle. What are they thinking? What are they doing? Why? What’s getting in their way? To customize your CX plan, you must use a whole assortment of data, insights and understanding that go way beyond the usual suspects like NPS, clicks, calls, etc. These metrics answer very specific questions about specific points in the customer experience but rarely tell the entire story about what the customer wants, needs, and why she feels and behaves in certain ways.

To better inform your decision making on what to invest in now, later or never, you should be relying on insights from your buyer journey diagnostic, voice of the customer research, data audits, and a variety of other inputs including your NPS and CSAT data. By combining these various data sources and types, you can begin to create a more complete picture of the customer. 1 + 1 can equal 3.

2. Integrated Plan for Technology and Enablement Tools

There are legacy systems in place across every business. Some are old and antiquated, some are new and shiny. Regardless, there’s typically a need to bring together data and technology in a different way to capture the right customer information—to ultimately make informed choices and to be able to execute on your CX ideas. For example, if you want to use info about a customer’s website activity to arm your customer service representative on an inbound call, you need technology integration that connects the website and the inbound call center and also surfaces the data to the rep in a meaningful way.

With thousands of technology options and tools, what are the right ones for your brand and your customer experience? You need the right combination of tools in place to capture and action data from or about the customer. The technology needs to enable a seamless and satisfying experience for the customer in way that creates economic value for your business.

3. Skill and Agility to Create Content

To really embrace and deliver on a relevant customer experience requires an abundance of content to be actioned in real time to deliver a relevant interaction and to keep the conversation going. Most organizations have a lot of latent content that’s created for different functions across enterprise, but rarely is it organized and catalogued in a way to fuel relevant CX. Frequently, I find that all of this content is more heavily situated in upper funnel awareness instead of deep funnel or nurturing content that helps in other stages of buyer journey.

It’s important to assess all of your current content, identify gaps and opportunities to improve it or more effectively use existing content, catalog it, and be committed to continuous process of content creation. You’ll need to be able to bring together many different bits and pieces in real-time or in batch around the customer and what they’re trying to do in each moment of the journey.

4. Focus on Things that Impact the Business

There’s lots of ways to go about delighting the customer. But just because you can do it, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. You need to evaluate each potential CX improvement in terms of its impact to the customer, as well as its direct or indirect impact to the company’s bottom line. You have to look at what’s good for the customer and brand simultaneously. If you solve too heavily for one or the other, it’s going to be a mismatch. If you solve for customer without worrying enough about business impact, you’ll find yourself at some point unprofitable. If you lean too heavily on what’s right for the business, the customer leaves you. You have to have the right balance.

This is difficult because customer experience is the accumulation of interactions that occurs over time. You have to take a longer and wider view of CX to truly evaluate how all of the actions you could do over time affect the experience over time—and to what extent the improvement in experience relates to an improvement in business results over time.

With so many options available, it may be difficult to decide which investments will provide the best bang for the buck. It is critical to evaluate and prioritize your options based on what delivers the best value for the customer at the proper level of resource and investment for your company.

Delivering Business Impact

If you have all four of these points nailed, you’ll have a more effective customer experience strategy and a much higher likelihood of being able to demonstrate and deliver business impact.

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