12 Rules To Build An Outstanding Customer Experience

The world’s leading brands invest millions in their customer experience strategies, but what are the simple rules that even small businesses can use?

Over the last couple of decades, we have worked with companies all over the world, and across different industries, to help them to develop their customer experience strategies. It is always interesting to see how each and every company approaches customer experience in different, but over the years we have spotted some key ingredients that make certain brands become truly outstanding in the eyes of their customers.

Of course, some of the leading brands in customer experience are among the world’s largest and most famous companies, but there are some important lessons that SMEs can take away from them. Here we have tried to distil these CX strategies down into 12 tips that will help shape your customer experience.

1 – A Hundred Small Projects Beats One Large One

We have seen many organisations try to develop a huge, revolutionary idea to improve their customer experience, only for the project to become so complex that it almost inevitably fails in the execution. The smarter approach is to make a list of many small improvements that you can make for customers, and tackle them one by one.

2 – Use IA: Intelligence Augmented

Today, it would be foolish to ignore technologies that can improve the level of service humans provide. Its called IA (intelligence augmented), and it’s all about using simple technologies to make sure that your ‘humans’ have the right information to do and say the right things at the right time.

3 – CX Strategy Is For Everyone

Even in small companies, make sure their isn’t a disconnect between an enthusiastic manager and the rest of the staff. Everybody should understand the strategy in their own context, so everyone knows what their contribution will be. There are no shortcuts to doing this, but it creates a strong sense of purpose.

4 – Celebrate Your Wins

It is important to feel happy when you achieve something for customers, and you should celebrate all your small successes to keep your team engaged with the bigger journey.

5 – All Staff Need Direct Customer Feedback

If every employee can feel the excitement or disappointment directly from customers, it creates a higher level of urgency and commitment to the customer. Former Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, Duncan Wardle, has said  “I would advise to make it mandatory for everybody in your organization who’s not in direct contact with the consumer to go spend a day per year in their living room.” It seems extreme, but it’s probably also the reason why Disney is so exceptional at CX.

6 – Get Your Friction Hunters

One game to play when working with companies is to turn employees into friction hunters. Each person has to look for any type of irritation or unpleasantness in the customer journey, then we put a name next to each friction and you give that person four weeks to solve it.

When the team meet again, we discuss what worked and what still needs improving. Then we play that game again and again – it helps create a culture where people are really focused on the details in the customer journey, and each small fix improves the overall quality for customers.

7 – Focus On Joy

The Disney movie “Inside Out” shows us how the human brain has four negative emotions – sadness, anger, disgust, and fear – and just one positive basic emotion, Joy. When you realise that 80% of the emotions in our minds are negative, it is easy to understand why customers complain so much! We challenge you to consciously let the positive emotions take the decisions in your next meeting – rather than dwell on the 10% of customers abusing your returns policy, focus on the honest 90% whose experience you’re harming for something they’d never do.

8 – Just Fix It

When something goes wrong between your company and your customer, our instinct is often to focus on finding blame. Instead, just focus on one thing – fixing the problem as soon as you can! Of course, it is valuable to check what happened to learn and prevent it from happening again, but remember: always fix it.

9 – It Is A Long-term Game

Many companies abandon customer experience projects if they don’t see short-term results, but you need a long term vision as well as a short term one. It’s like going to the gym – you might notice no results when you look in the mirror for the first couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working!

10 – Make It Fast And Fun

For many companies, the priority is making their customer experience fast and easy, but they forget the fun. People like to be entertained, to be wowed, to be surprised, and that can be a great thing for a small business to invest in to make them stand out. Happy customers also make happy employees, so why not challenge your team to make life more fun for customers?

11 – Create Emotional Convenience

We now live in such a digital world that transactional perfection and digital convenience have just become the standard people expect today. The new challenge is to create what’s called “emotional convenience” – or understanding customers’ hopes, dreams, ambitions and fears, and trying to play an active role in that too and create more emotional value in their life.

12 – Empower Employees To Be On The Customer’s Side

Companies with truly outstanding customer experiences will empower frontline staff to take decisions in favour of the customer. They don’t have to ask a boss for permission to solve a problem – and by fixing issues quickly and efficiently on their own, it makes a tremendous impact on how your customers are treated and the perception of the culture in your organisation.