Building a strong customer experience (CX) or customer success (CS) program has either been a top priority for your digital agency over the last few years or it is a new service line that has emerged through customer demand. As we gear up for 2019, it’s time to get it on your management team’s priority list.
For digital agencies, customer experience strategies are likely something your project teams are delivering for clients. For the purposes of building an internal program, the CX is the journey a customer takes with your agency from their first interaction to their final one. Similar to organizational culture — where every company has a culture, whether they are intentional about designing it or not — every customer has an experience with your agency. Mapping out a strategy for delivering a consistent, meaningful experience allows you to share an actionable plan for implementation across the entire company.
Is customer experience worth the cost?
For individuals new to this concept, simply put, increasing customer retention, increases profits. Gallup’s ” Guide to Customer Centricity: Analytics and Advice for B2B Leaders ” (registration required) report discusses the analysis of 19,000 business-to-business (B2B) companies. Gallup found that highly engaged customers had profitability levels 34% higher than their customer base that had low levels of engagement, as well as a 50% increase in revenue.
As an example, Starbucks has been using CX knowledge for years to drive their stakeholders from satisfied to highly satisfied. These efforts have not only engaged their ‘partners’ but also their customer base.
How does customer experience apply to the digital agency world?
For client-facing companies such as digital strategy and communications firms, they are focused on helping clients solve problems that will transform their businesses but often neglect to foster these approaches internally. Some may think that client satisfaction scores and high-quality products are enough to carry them through to the next level, but this is simply not good enough in today’s marketplace. The market is shifting and agencies are in fact struggling to adapt to new customer-driven standards.
If you work for an agency or firm, do you calculate the cost of acquiring new business? If so, you probably know that it is considerably more expensive to respond to requests for proposals (RFPs) and lead prospective clients through the engagement funnel to secure a new opportunity. If your agency is not calculating the cost of customer acquisition, then you can intuitively understand how expensive this process might be — multiply that across your entire sales funnel.
What are the building blocks of a customer experience program?
Customer experience goes beyond having the right client-focused team members in the room. It looks at every step a client takes with your company. An omnichannel approach to your customer journey will improve your acquisition and retention, but it also involves dedicated planning time, resources and sustained investment to pay off.
Here are some initial steps to get started on your own path to success.
1. Involve Key Players
Whatever you do, don’t go it alone. Developing a sustained CX program involves continued involvement from presales to post sales and delivery. Gathering input from all departments, not just your customer success team or account team, is necessary for real results.
Lay out key initiatives and pain points from each perspective and get everyone in the same room. Take a truly 360-degree view of how your teams engage on digital platforms and in the real world. Work together to map the customer journey and identify key goals and outcomes along the way. Engaging at this level will reveal any weak points and blinders your organization currently has, and solidify a common understanding of what this experience should look and feel like at every stage. CX cannot be done in a silo.
2. Assess The Landscape
After mapping the current journey from each department’s perspective, set out on a real-world audit of how your customers are engaging with you and having their needs met. Answer the following:
* Which channels are your customers using to engage with you?
* How are clients engaging in those channels?
* Are you making it easy for customers to engage with you? Where are the stopping and drop-off points?
* How are you using data to drive engagement and make outreach more effective?
* Are you empowering customers to be able to self-service when it comes to questions and concerns? Or are you creating walls between questions and answers?
3. Be Agile
Building (or even turning around) a CX program doesn’t happen overnight. Completing the first two steps may feel like you’re stuck with a seemingly impossible laundry list of tactics to implement. This next step allows you to prioritize them.
After forming your overarching strategy and gaining consensus on what the omnichannel experience should be, you are now ready to start prioritizing your tactics.
* Quickly estimate the level of effort, resources required and cost of delaying each task. Don’t get overwhelmed — just move through estimating each task quickly to get a rough idea.
* Group each task by impact. On a scale of one to three — or one to five — where does each task stand in having a real impact on moving the business or your CX program forward?
* Based on your prioritized set of tasks, start moving through each one by tackling the lowest-level-of-effort items first.
* Set up dedicated meetings every two to three weeks to assess progress, and ensure deadlines are being hit. I highly recommend using a Kanban board at this stage as it will allow you to organize your efforts, create transparency between departments about progress and motivate team members to continue on with their own efforts.
If you’ve done the above, then you should have a solid plan of action to move forward. As you execute against your backlog of tasks, also use your dedicated meetings as a way to step back and review data on how customers are engaging with your agency. Reflecting on lessons learned on a regular basis will allow you to make informed decisions to refine your overall customer experience strategy.
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