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Start with strategy

Customer experience, customer success, even customer love are central to everything most businesses do today – or so they tell us! But, despite the rhetoric, most of us probably have interacted with a business where the reality didn’t measure up. That could be because someone in the support centre had an off day. But it is much more likely because we were trying to do things that weren’t on the customer journey flowchart.

The first step to a great customer experience is actually to make sure that the product or service on offer does what it says on the tin. That will help to attract the people who are most likely to derive value from what the business sells.  Here are three tips to designing a CX  to support business strategy.

1 How does the customer strategy support the brand promise? How does it help differentiate? 

The success of any business relationship is based on enabling customers to achieve their desired outcome. In most cases, this is best addressed by dealing with the functional aspects – helping people to complete their ‘jobs-to-be-done’ simply and easily.

Sometimes brand managers can overstate the importance of conversations with customers and emotional engagement. Most customers are not interested in relationships with the companies they use. You can’t in any case hope to trigger positive emotions if the basics aren’t in place.

Prioritise doing the things that will help your business to differentiate from the competition. Is your product the most convenient, or the highest quality, or the most innovative? Make sure that the customer experience reflects and emphasises that.

2 Optimise customer interactions instead of designing whole journeys

A ‘whole journey’ approach can end up taking on a mythic quality: – “Odysseus Smith changes his broadband provider”. It risks overstating the certainties involved and making too much of pseudo-scientific data such as personas.

When customers interact with companies to get their jobs done it usually requires a series of interactions for customers to get all the outcomes they want. It is complex to decide what they may be. Perhaps Penelope bought access to a premium sports channel to watch Odysseus’ round the world yacht race – but after he disappeared, she was too busy unpicking her weaving every evening to watch it and wanted to pause her subscription.

Planning a customer strategy around a series of idealised customer journeys risks creating a lot of potential for bad customer experience because there are so many unpredictable factors which influence behaviour. A key to optimising these interactions is supporting and encouraging customer-facing employees to be responsive to actual customers, making decisions and sharing information about these real life interactions with the wider organisation.

3 How does it help you meet your commercial/ business goals?

Customer strategy is a powerful tool to help the business to meet its objectives in terms of growth and profitability.

If you can create products or services which are more consistent and more convenient than the competition, people may be prepared to pay more for those. If your customers don’t run into problems and can self serve to a greater degree, you can save money in dealing with complaints or offering support.

Reducing churn is important for certain customers. For example, in SaaS,  because onboarding new customers is usually a net cost many customers only become profitable over time. Banks make more profit from high net worth individuals than others.

Most businesses are already aware of their superstars – but instead of tailoring the customer experience to them it is more important to identify and develop those who have the potential to grow into tomorrow’s best customers.


Businesses have to be prepared to adapt to increasing customer expectations but they also need to be aware of the risks of overpromising and under-delivering. As in many areas of business, it is better to do the opposite.

Contact Optima Partners today to learn more about how to improve customer experience.