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5 Steps to Excellent Customer Experience

Posted by  Dave Goossens

In a 2018 IBM study based on 2,000 face-to-face meetings and 10,000 phone interviews with CEOs and other business leaders from all over the world, a lot of data was recorded and lessons gleaned.

The results from the discussions showed that the most successful and innovative leaders are those who excel at customer experience. In essence, they redirect their resources to scale to new heights. They are also masters at achieving better outcomes, restructuring their organizations and redefining company culture. But at the center of it all is the way these business leaders are all able to leverage their data and knowledge to achieve compelling customer experiences.

Here are some common characteristics of the most effective leadership business strategies. Any enterprise implementing the following steps should be able to achieve similar success.

1. Nurture Customer Relationships

Success requires close direct customer relationships coupled with partner discussions and collaborations. Many corporations are now focusing on training their teams in the art of the personalized customer experience.

In the IBM survey, 86 percent of organizations said they were somewhat effective at creating individual experiences, while 53 percent considered themselves very effective.

Those who designed personalized customer experiences said they needed to understand human nature: moods, motivations, desires, even temper. It was more than just going through all the data. Personalizing an experience for the customer required understanding the person as a human being -- not an easy feat. But relationships were possible to achieve when given proper consideration and focus.

2. Use Real-Time Data to Achieve Better Outcomes

With the use of real-time data from AI and other tech sources, the leaders who excel are able to guide their teams better towards customer satisfaction.

Whereas in the past companies could only rely on statistics and data that was sourced over time, nowadays the digital workplace enables enterprises everywhere to monitor their customers' behavior and map their journey, from the mood to desires, to purchase and even testimonials.

In this way, companies can predict customer behavior and properly measure the desired outcome, while innovating and changing current modes of operation to ensure complete customer satisfaction. By redesigning their businesses and strategies, they are able to deliver better customer experiences.

3. Develop Customer Empathy

This point is about more than mere customer proximity. It is about having real customer empathy. One way to achieve this is to co-create communities in order to gain a deeper source of insights.

As mentioned above, many businesses are now employing customer mapping to decompose the journey. By seeing where one customer has come from and predicting where they intend to go, an enterprise moves from guesswork to actual personas which can then be used in the product redesign.

Muji is one of the enterprises that achieved this by allowing its customers to co-create products. Those products went on to outsell the company's own-designed products by three times. This is true collaboration, giving the customer a sense of empowerment and satisfaction throughout the development process.

4. Value and Enable Smart Experimentation

A true innovator enables others to excel. Innovating enterprises encourage their employees to also become innovators by giving them the freedom and flexibility to collaborate on the design and thinking process. They can see the path from point A to point C clearly, and simply eliminate the bureaucratic middle management who aren't necessarily contributing to the success of a customer's journey.

In fact, the most globalized organizations are now those who prize experimentation and empowerment, and they embody those values themselves as they set an example on the highest level.

5. Empower Your Own People for Change

Essentially, leaders must strive to trust and empower their people. But it is also a matter of having the right systems in place that allow for this. If companies do not have this kind of thinking ingrained in their culture, innovation will be a long and tiring process.

China-based Haier's CEOs strived to be responsive to customers and the ideas brought forward by the company's staff. This is now one of the fastest growing enterprises in the world.

Being a successful CEO also means that one is willing to back off when the employees feel they are not heard and seen completely. They are willing to acknowledge failure and the fact that they are fallible. This takes humility, the courage to admit failures, and encouraging other people on the management team to do the same. If the company can be transparent while having digital fluency throughout, it will survive even the strongest changes and grow through new opportunities.

In the new digital collaborative culture, this is not just important but vital for survival. Are the leaders of today willing to apply new systems never used before and be the first to try and fail? If so, they may even achieve new energy in motion. They will be the ones who continue to innovate and create because they benefit from the constant flow of new ideas and new resources.

They seek out those opportunities and collaborate not just with customers or partners but also with competitors. And they are the ones who excel at customer satisfaction every time.

Dave Goossens

Dave joined Unit4 in 2017, with responsibility for helping clients drive world-class outcomes from their Unit4 solutions through the experience and unique skills of its consultants. He joined Unit4 from Hewlett Packard, where he led Software Services in the EMEA region. At HP, and before at IBM Global Services, Dave successfully transformed services businesses into differentiating and high performing organizations, supporting thousands of customers with world-class delivery and project services. He graduated from UHasselt University in Belgium in 1998.