4 Steps for Customer Experience Success

Irina Jakovleva

Building a business cemented in the customer experience is table stakes in today’s connected economy for both B2B and B2C organizations. In fact, a recent report from Gartner found that 89 percent of marketers expect that customer experience will be their primary differentiator in 2017. If a vast majority of marketers consider CX to be their secret sauce in winning and maintaining loyal customers, they need to make sure they have the right strategies in place to align all areas of the business to meet the needs of every customer at every touch point.

This organization-wide obsession with CX starts from the top down – and not just from the CMO (who in many cases is tasked with “owning” the customer experience). CFOs need to understand that delivering a solid CX is an opportunity to drive revenue. For the CEO, they must see the business benefit to invest in CX technologies and practices. Even with varying departmental agendas and priorities, delivering a superior customer experience is one thing an entire organization can get behind. There is good reason for this – customers are increasingly selective when it comes to the brands they do business with and will not tolerate a poor experience.

What About the Post-Purchase Experience?

This top-down organizational alignment will help address one of today’s biggest challenges in the customer journey: making sure customer experiences are top-notch from initial interest to purchase and all the way through the loyalty phase. Read any marketing publication today and you will find information on how to address the customer’s needs before an actual purchase is made, but few touch on the post-purchase customer experience, which is one of the most important parts of the overall customer journey.

Many traditional sales funnels are purpose built with three simple steps to drive sales – securing leads, turning them into prospects and then into customers. But once the sale has been made (with help from the marketing function), the customer is handed off to a separate customer care team, with little to no discussion on the customer’s unique qualities, needs and desires. A fourth step must be considered that allows marketing, sales and customer care to be on the same page when addressing CX throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

To bring this concept to life, let’s look at the one thing that every public company must concern themselves with – earnings. Think back to the traditional, three-step sales funnel mentioned above. If this is applied to the earnings calendar, you are missing out on the entire final quarter of the year! No matter the outcome of the first three quarters – you are leaving plenty on the table when you do not finish the year strong. In sales terms, this is equivalent to turning leads into prospects and completing the sale during the first three quarters, but then taking a vacation from October until the new year. Now let’s look at this in the broader sense of CX. The fourth quarter represents the fourth step in the cycle – delivering a solid post-purchase customer experience. Unfortunately, many companies fall into this same pattern and only focus on the courtship of a customer or client, through to the purchase phase. While they do get what they want – a sale – they miss winning a repeat or loyal customer due to the lack of focus on the post-purchase CX.

Multilingual Customer Care Materials

One way to bridge the gap between sales and marketing and customer care professionals is to learn from and implement each group’s best practices. Customer care teams often fall short in their ability to provide multilingual communications during the post-purchase phase of the customer journey, but this attention to detail is a strength of marketing teams. Imagine a product has been sold to a French-speaking customer. All of the marketing materials a brand used to acquire this customer were served up in her native language to meet the customer’s needs and expectations. Now that the customer has the product in hand, an issue or question arises so she goes to the customer care team to have that resolved. However, the customer care team isn’t equipped with the proper tools to address the customer’s questions in her preferred language. There are no live-chat options and no content or FAQs available in French. The customer is ultimately left holding the bag and must solve her problems with no support from the company. What started out as a positive, personalized experience quickly devolved into a headache for the customer. You can bet this customer won’t be coming back.

This problem is often exacerbated when companies strive for global growth. Many organizations still employ a traditional siloed approach to marketing, sales and customer service. It is no longer sustainable to be great at turning leads into customers. Instead, companies must develop strategies to retain that customer for future engagements that ultimately lead to brand advocacy.

As mentioned above, organizational design can play a critical role in addressing CX shortcomings. Bringing together the c-suite to create general accountability will ensure that the organization is focused on a culture of customer experience, not just looking at it as another department's problem. With more companies competing on CX as a business differentiator, strategic investments and organizational adjustments must be made to deliver the personal and relevant experiences today’s customers demand.

Irina Jakovleva is vice president of global marketing at Lionbridge, a company specializing in language localization, software testing and e-learning.