Is CX growth in your strategic plans? Is customer experience (1) a determinant or (2) a subset of corporate strategy, or (3) is it unrelated? If you define “customer experience” as nice-to-have programs, or a department, or interactions, your answer may be “2” or “3”. However, in my 5-year study of B2B CX practices, “1’s” have higher financial results.

Does this surprise you? Re-think “customer experience” as brand integrity: delivering what you promised. After all, the programs and departments associated with CX are making up for what wasn’t delivered, but was expected.

Further, customers are the source of salaries, budgets, and profits. Investors and you rely on them for your existence and growth.

Brand integrity gaps are the window to huge growth potential:

  1. Convert Costs: almost everything you’re doing to make up for something that went wrong is reversible. We had 100+ single-page strategies simultaneously to convert costs, every year for several years. How? Each product team, account team, and support function focused on root cause resolution of the top 2 issues they were causing for customers. That’s determined by cutting the data from your relationship survey (or via data mining from Support comments, etc.) for each group’s own report. Next, correlation analysis identifies key drivers of loyalty. Then, Pareto for comments reveals the Vital Few aspects of a key driver. Each work group did a 5-Why’s exercise, and their single-page strategy action plan addressed each 5th why.
    We recaptured millions in hours and dollars for customers and ourselves. These savings are marketing/sales gold for attraction and retention, sales velocity, and margin expansion. Previously tied-up resources and budgets were re-assigned to higher-value opportunities. I call this XM annuities. Think of the value freed-up to avoid shrinkflation, austerity, and other value limits! Permanently resolving these prevalent issues strengthened brand integrity.
  2. Embolden Expansions: every new market, product, upgrade, business model, merger, etc. is riskier when it’s not rooted in customer insights and agile development. Strengthen success by data-mining to guide each growth effort from the start, not as an afterthought.
    My presentation to the US CX Awards last month gives you more ideas for how to do this. This is key to minimizing costs to serve, and maximizing revenue and much more.
  3. Straighten Strategies: double-check your ideal customer profile (ICP) to ensure this attractive customer group matches your operational ability to serve them expertly. If costs to serve are high for them, redefine a better match. You want to thrive with ideal customers, as their clearly preferred provider. Everything every work group does should cater first to them and secondarily to other customer groups.
    Get crystal clear with performance standards, accordingly, for both non-customer-facing and touchpoint groups. Ask your CX teams to adjust the ways the collect, communicate, and champion customer insights to educate every work group. Everyone’s strategic plans should be in-line with this. Otherwise, you’re allowing a lot of waste, squandered opportunities, mediocre performance.

Growing Value

As a determinant of corporate strategy, customer experience insights can be mined from a wealth of existing sources in this information age. Look for patterns and you’ll find 2 to 4 overall expectations emerge. These overall expectations are the showstopper or ultimate purpose for a customer’s relationship with you. Accordingly, these overall expectations are your intentional experience: the culmination of everything your firm does. Anything deviating from it is wasteful, letting revenue go out the window, and letting profit go down the drain. Intentional CX is the proper basis for your North Star.

Since customers are the hand that feeds employees, partners, and investors, what else is a more logical determinant of corporate strategy?

CX Leaders Mastermind

Author Lynn Hunsaker started her career in the strategic planning department at Sonoco Products Company. She was Head of Corporate Quality at Applied Materials. She was first in the world to conduct a global study of B2B CX practices, and first in the world to benchmark marketing operations practices. This article is a glimpse into what you gain from ClearAction Experience Leadership Mastery. Yes, all these points are included in it, and MUCH more!