Avoid the North Star in Your Customer Experience Strategy


The Gist

  • Understand what makes customers tick. A successful CX strategy starts by knowing what consumers want and what makes them happy.
  • Bulk up your VoC program. Observe how your customers interact with your brand to better highlight their voice and preferences.
  • Turn inward. Ensure the agents and CX leaders on your team value a customer-centric approach and culture.

When it comes to developing and executing a strategic plan, many companies love to point to their “north star” as the focal point of their vision. You may have even seen some companies give their strategic initiatives names like “Project Polaris” or “Mission: North Star.” The metaphor itself works — every business needs a guiding principle to direct their journey.

But in the case of a customer experience strategy, another star more fully captures the goal: Sirius. Unlike Polaris and other common stars, Sirius is a binary star. It consists of two stars so far away and so close to each other that, to us, they like a single star. Similarly, a healthy CX strategy needs two components that are so closely bound together that they appear to be one.

Understanding CSAT

The first component is obvious: understanding customer satisfaction and sentiment. We might call this the “outward facing” element, composed of three distinct pieces.

The first of these pieces — and the heart of CX — is a robust and well-defined Voice of the Customer (VoC) program upon which everything else is built. This includes a strong customer survey program and a variety of customer listening outposts to capture unstructured VoC. Sources such as chat transcripts, email, social media and call recordings can provide the richest source of proactive, actionable data. And actionability leads us further toward the ultimate destination.

Related Article: What Is Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)?

A Clear Customer Journey

The second piece is a well-documented customer journey. Too often, brands end up documenting what they think the journey ought to be, not what it actually is. Don’t misunderstand; that “to-be” journey is an important part of the navigation plan, but what’s equally important is a candid, fact-based assessment of the current journey. How do our customers experience our brand now? To do this effectively, you need to “go to gemba” — get out and observe how customers interact with your brand “in the wild.”

Here again, unstructured VoC sources provide a great clue to where to make those observations. As your CX strategy matures, you can turn journey maps into journey reconstructions: heavily VoC-driven actual individual customer journeys that are infused not only with VoC, but internal operational support system data such as orders, bills and maintenance records.

The customer understanding component of your binary star is rounded out with a means to communicate the insights you’ve gathered from listening to customers. This communication first goes backwards to the customer, closing the loop to let them know they were heard and that you’ve addressed their inquiry.

However, “addressed” does not necessarily mean “resolved,” so even if you may not have been able to solve the problem, closing the loop tells the customer their issue was not ignored. At this point, communication needs to turn inward and become a launching point for the second component of our Sirius binary star. This communication piece focuses on reporting KPIs, customer feedback and customer stories to internal stakeholders.

Related Article: Your CX Altitude Change: Customer Centricity to Life Centricity


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