Dictating every aspect of customer experience is customer-experience-tyranny.
Nothing like a little hyperbole to start the article. But, it’s not far off! Think about it. Customer experience has been an ongoing and on-growing topic of conversation across global enterprises for years. There’s a multi-billion dollar CX industry that peddles strategies, software, and consultancies hell-bent on getting your business the best possible CX strategy.
However, chasing the “best possible CX” can lead to obsessive control, as if it’s wholly a laboratory-borne set of experiments. Now, a great deal of the efficacy of CX strategy is testing and experimenting, but experiments have their limits and the real world is not a laboratory.
Because, in the end, no matter what a customer is buying from you, their experience remains their own. Isn’t it worth asking them what they want to experience?
It is; here’s why.
You Don’t (And Can’t) Own Your Customer’s Experience
Part of giving your audience what they want is caring about why they came to you in the first place, not projecting what you want onto them, and calling it CX. Our CEO & Co-Founder, Patrick nailed this point with an apt parenting example in his article Dear Business, It’s Not Your Customer Experience:
Parents, for instance, when you bring your children to something you think they’ll enjoy and you think they’re having a good time. If you imagine yourself enjoying it as though you’re a kid, it’s easy to feel this way. Kid-you is having a good time, so how could they possibly not be? But, they aren’t and you’re just projecting your own good experience onto them, and projecting an experience onto someone doesn’t make it real.
Inauthentic customer experiences are borne from businesses trying to own what they think the customer experience should be. Rather than trying to own it, it’s an organization’s job to tap into authentic desires and develop customer experience strategies that align with the actual customers.
Customer Recognition Says You Actually Care
Once upon a time, businesses were corporate walls with nary a bit of personality, let alone relatable aspects of humanity. Since 1989, the comic Dilbert has put together droll, satirical depictions of corporate culture being little more than a smattering of soulless drones selling something uninspiring in exchange for money. And, honestly, they hit closer to home than we like to admit.
It can’t be like that anymore. A healthy dose of humanity needs to be reintroduced to customer experience, and it starts with customer recognition.
The best way to communicate that you really care for the people you’re trying to reach is by asking them questions, listening to their wants, needs, concerns, etc. This means being accessible to them! Whether that’s through surveys, social campaigns, personalized outreach, customer showcases/ highlights, or sending the occasional hand-written note, it pays to have real conversations with the people who keep your organization’s lights on.
You Can’t Presume Voice of Customer (VoC)
Another reason hearing and truly listening to your customers and prospects is important is that you can’t bottle the voice of your customers based on presumptions. This takes — I’m going to say something wild here — being attentive to their voices in order to put content together that speaks to them.
It’s not difficult to learn more about VoC, but it does require some digging. Your customer support team is a gold mine here. They have direct access to customer issues, success stories, complaints, wishes, pretty much everything. Make a plan with them to record or take notes on some of these interactions and meet with them periodically for a VoC pulse check. You’ll be surprised at how illuminating it can be.
That’s merely one way to track VoC without presumption. Social media is also great here. See what people are saying about your company via your social accounts, interact with them, post things that people will want to respond to. Put yourself out there for people to see the personality behind the product. See what happens.
Fresh Ideas Can’t Always Come From Internal Brainstorming
Internal brainstorming is a crucial part of any strategy, but sometimes a breath of fresh air comes from the outside; from the folks using your product, or somewhere in the consideration process.
This is yet another great place to leverage anecdotal information from your customer support team. They’ve got a direct line to external sources who are already using your product. Take a peek at what they’re thinking and it’s likely to shake something up that a purely internal planning session might’ve missed.
The same thing applies to your sales team. They’re in the trenches with potential customers and hear the good, bad, and ugly first hand (bless ‘em) — talk with them and see what you can use from prospects to inform your CX strategy.
Sometimes Paying Attention Is The Best CX Strategy
Imagine submitting a support ticket and finding your suggestion and name recognized in the next update’s release notes with that particular bug fix. That’d be pretty cool. It’s a solution to a problem, plus a little personal acknowledgment inside a piece of rarely personable content.
You can have that idea for free.
But, seriously, the best way to have a customer experience strategy that balances corporate goals without trying to own the customer experience is to let your customers know that you’re paying attention to them. Your attentiveness communicates that you care for more than just your bottom line.
Because proper CX articulates human value, too.