“If we are not innovating as an organization around the customer experience, then we are already behind.”
This is how Jeannie Walters, a customer experience professional with more than 20 years of experience, opened a recent Ripple Effect podcast episode. As the CEO of Experience Investigators, she runs a global customer experience consulting firm that helps companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience.
Hundreds of companies across three continents have trusted Jeannie to consult, train, and speak about CX, from SMBs to Fortune 500s. As a top Linkedln Learning instructor, her online courses about improving the customer experience have taught more than 200,000 learners.
She’s dedicated her entire career to investigating the best and worst in customer experience. And now, you get a front-row seat to some of her top insights from 20+ years of consulting and leading CX teams. Below are four customer experience strategies she’s seen work over and over again.
Listen Now: This post covers only a small portion of the CX strategies Jeannie shares in her episode. To hear them all, listen to the Future of Work: Staying Ahead of Customer Expectations now!
1. Make CX a priority throughout your organization.
One of the most common mistakes Jeannie has seen throughout her career is organizations not investing enough in their customer experience teams. Many CX failures have come from organizations that talk the talk but don’t necessarily walk the walk.
“I’m a big believer that we have to treat customer experience like any other part of the business,” Jeannie said. “What I mean by that is we can't talk about it and say it's a priority and not provide resources to it, not have a clear definition of what success looks like, and not really invest in that part of the business.”
This goes beyond simply filling the team and funding it appropriately. To truly see success, Jeannie believes organizations must create a CX charter, then distill the values of this charter throughout the organization.
Getting all departments and team members to understand the necessity of building great customer experiences—and how they can each play a role in delivering it—is key to success. “We have to make sure that everybody in the organization really understands what are our goals with customer experience and how can I, myself, one single employee, contribute to that.”
2. Invest in moments that surprise and delight.
Products or services may bring people to companies, but experiences make them stay. As more and more customer interactions shift to digital, it’s important to sprinkle moments of surprise and delight throughout the customer journey.
What does this look like? You could send any of the following to create an unexpected happy moment:
- Personalized birthday message
- Special offer on their customer anniversary
- Specialty content based on recent purchases
- Handwritten note to recognize a known life or work event
- Curated package or offering based on feedback
As Jeannie pointed out, “what we're talking about now with surprise and delight is how do we make sure that we're recognizing people where they are in their journey? How do we go that one step further to really say to them, ‘We see you, and we appreciate you.’?”
Enabling some of these positive moments requires collecting specific data points from customers early on in their journey. If you do your due diligence, it can be easy to integrate a few engaging and unique moments of customer appreciation into the customer journey.
Don’t forget to include this strategy across digital and physical channels. Many brands may underestimate the power of direct mail, but Jeannie knows it can reinforce brand affinity. “A brand that does this really well is Chewy, the pet supply company. They often will have a handwritten note sent on your pet's birthday. They have really done a great job of incorporating the digital and the physical to provide those moments of delight.”
3. Level up personalization.
As noted, creating engaging customer moments requires data to make them happen. Much of this data can also be used to level up personalization across customer touchpoints. But if your organization thinks personalizing emails with first name tags is enough, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy.
Jeannie notes in her episode that there are plenty of ways to get creative with personalization—you just have to ask customers about their preferences in order to deliver.
You may think a customer wants a specific perk or offer based on data, like purchase history or demographics. But Jeannie has seen this lead organizations in the wrong direction too many times. If you want to deliver more personalized experiences, whether through digital or in-person channels, take the time to ask the right questions.
How do you get these questions in front of customers? Open up feedback channels, rely on customer success and support teams, and revamp customer surveys to ensure you’re able to gather the data you need to better personalize all customer interactions. You may need different information depending on your audience, industry, and company, but there’s sure to be a few data points that can help you provide more customized communications your customers will appreciate.
4. Be strategic with customer feedback.
One misstep Jeannie sees companies make often is capturing customer feedback but never acting on it. One piece of advice she gives CX teams is to assess whether all the questions you’re asking in feedback surveys are a necessity. If you can’t act on the data gathered, it probably shouldn’t be included in your customer survey.
As Jeannie points out, few things are worse than providing feedback, possibly multiple times, and never seeing any results. It’s important to have open feedback channels available to customers, but if they don’t feel heard from that feedback, they may lose trust in your organization.
Oftentimes, Jeannie sees this situation arise when organizations silo their customer feedback by product, department, location, or some other defining factor. She recommends centralizing all customer feedback to improve access and transparency. This makes it easier for any department, employee, or branch to review the feedback and connect it to the people they serve. If you want to hear a real-life example of this in action, skip to the 12-minute mark in Jeannie’s episode.
Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers
The above phrase is not just a header; it’s Jeannie’s trademarked motto. If you take some of her advice back to your teams, you’ll not only create fewer ruined days for customers, but you’ll build more personalized interactions that create customers for life.
To get all of Jeannie’s CX strategies that deliver higher ROI, improve employee retention, and minimize customer churn, listen to her episode Future of Work: Staying Ahead of Customer Expectations now!