A bad customer experience is like an Iowa radio station

When I was a kid, my rural Iowa hometown got a new radio station. It wanted to be a radio station for everybody, so it would play one song from the eighties, then one from the seventies, the sixties, and so on. The theory was clear: if you play something for everyone, everyone will be happy.

Of course, in the real world, that theory doesn’t actually work. Instead of pleasing everyone, the radio station didn’t make anyone happy. If you’re looking for Electric Avenue, you won’t love it when Sugar Sugar comes on. Whether you prefer modern hits or oldie classics, you’re sure to be disappointed quickly. Like my hometown radio station, pleasing everyone will just frustrate your customers.

Effective customer experience requires a clear vision. Every element of your customer experience must complement every other element: the new app you just launched needs to match your website, which in turn has to be consistent with your promotional materials. If your vision is clear, it will allow you to confidently say “yes” to features that will help you further that vision – but also, just as importantly, say “no” to programs that will detract from your vision.

So, how do you build this kind of focused customer experience vision? First, recognize that your vision cannot exist without the support of two other key elements of building any good customer experience: one person in charge, spearheading the program; and engaged and involved governance. Uniting the leader and governance under a strong vision is the key to creating positive and memorable customer experiences.

Building a customer experience vision

Your customer experience vision should express how you will implement your brand through your customer experience program: it should grow organically from your brand. To do this, you must first understand not only the foundation of the brand itself but also how it is perceived by others. Your employees are an excellent resource to access this – and it’s up to you to make sure that image matches what it should be.

Once you have these foundational elements in place, you are ready to build your customer experience vision. The vision itself should be short and practical, usable not only as a theory but as a directive, to implement your vision in the everyday workings of your company. Using your vision to carry out your customer experience program therefore creates a unified and directed approach, to guide yourself in creating a positive customer experience

Your CX vision will become your guide for evaluating your efforts. If your vision involves being the easiest company to work with, then you need to look critically at your efforts to add new features, as they often lead to greater complexity. If, instead, your vision is to provide the most-customized experience, then more features are important – and you may need to sacrifice some simplicity in order to fulfill your vision. Both simplicity and customization are good visions – but it is difficult to accomplish both.

This vision will become a very helpful tool for your governance team. Once you have identified your vision, apply this to your existing project portfolio. If your vision is to deeply understand your customers’ needs and apply unique solutions, look through your project portfolio. Are you building tools without customer research?  Or perhaps you’re creating a one-size-fits-all self-serve solution. Both of these should receive a critical eye by your governance team.

Next, look to see if you’re missing something in your portfolio. If your vision is to be the easiest company to work with, have you factored user experience into your projects?  Are you re-engineering your website to be simpler to use? Your vision is your tool to ensure that you are creating a consistent experience for your customers – one more likely to build a loyal following.

Just like a customer experience program, it’s easier to create a radio station that plays a little of everything. But that’s not the way to build a loyal following.

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