Why CX success means examining every aspect of the organisation

With a growing cost-of-living crisis, it’s more important than ever for marketing teams to be able to directly tie their brand’s customer experience (CX) to business outcomes.

With that in mind, marketers gathered on September 13 for a special Festival of Marketing masterclass event sponsored by digital design and technology agency Rufus Leonard. The focus was to stimulate debate and collaboration around the best strategies to gain executive support for marketers’ CX efforts and ensure brand strategy and execution are closely aligned. With an emphasis on practical ways to realize opportunities and overcome challenges, the focus has been on building brand differentiation in a crowded and increasingly competitive marketplace.

While marketers have tools at their disposal to make this easier, it’s important to think customer-centric first, break down internal barriers and silos, and communicate in language the C-suite understands, warned Econsultancy consultant Barbara Stewart, who delivered the keynote the event held .

“CX is the opposite of an investment in subtlety and abstract gain. It’s a direct investment in the organization’s financial performance,” she said. “It’s a business transformation.”

She added, “Anyone who adopts CX is a change manager. You have to pull the whole company along.” And since it “takes a whole village to deliver CX” and it is “the role of every single department” to deliver it, marketers need to map the stakeholders as well as the customer journey across all touchpoints . It’s also important to regularly outline, test, measure, and report on the financial impact of efforts.

Building a CX roadmap

With this in mind, Rufus Leonard presented two hands-on masterclass sessions focused on evaluating and optimizing CX to gain a competitive advantage. The agency’s Experience Value Engine is an example of a tool that companies can use to identify what drives or “breaks” effective customer experiences within their own organizations and define how they create value for customers.

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Laurence Parkes, CEO of Rufus Leonard, pointed out that as expectations rise and competition increases, category-leading brands must constantly strive to stay ahead of the competition: never before has digital been so fundamental to creating category-defining brands, said he.

And while the most successful companies make a meaningful difference to customers, that process must begin with a thorough analysis or review of the entire brand canvas – capturing the “owners” of each process and considering both its effectiveness and its broader integration into the business as a whole. Such an assessment can reveal all the gaps and ways a company can bring a brand to life by defining the areas where brand, technology and experience meet – from website functionality to CRM capabilities or back office data architecture .

In this way, building an “experience playbook” can empower brands to deliver meaningful experiences across channels, Parkes said. It can act as a single source of truth or a focused plan that aligns with goals across the C-suite—helping support a business case for investments and enforcement. Parkes emphasized the importance of building a framework to review an experience ecosystem holistically—across people, processes, technologies, platforms and content. This means looking inward, differentiating, and ultimately creating value by identifying “where you’re ‘killing’ it and where there are gaps.”

CX is the opposite of investing in niceties and abstract profit. It is a direct investment in the organization’s financial performance.

Barbara Stewart, Business Advisor

During this process, employee experience is also critical to success. “Brands need to ensure that everything they stand for at the core brand and mission level is heard and understood by their people,” said Ross Timms, director of strategy and transformation at Rufus Leonard, who noted that leading companies enjoy well-defined values and encourage collaboration, all sharing a common ambition or purpose.

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“We need to break down the silos, complexity and confusion that every organization has,” Parkes added.

An evolutionary process

He also pointed out that when considering whether business processes are fit for purpose, it is important to keep in mind that there will always be new requirements and that “going in the right direction” in terms of user experience – inevitably an evolutionary process – comes down to it it on.

However, by accurately considering all touchpoints and pathways through all departments, marketers can uncover which areas most need to be addressed. This can mean, for example, ensuring that the website lives up to its role in the ecosystem. At other times, the answer may lie in new ways of working. In the meantime, marketers must continue to scan the horizon, always thinking about what defines and drives the experience—both now and in the future.

Strong organizations are guided by missions and have a strong understanding of the opportunities ahead, Parkes and Timms said.

They communicate the mission and plan loudly and consistently, gathering feedback and engagement with regular strategic reviews and strong governance. They have the data and technology platforms needed to deliver modern experiences while testing and improving them. They are customer-centric and have a strong understanding of their target audience. With a productive and efficient workforce, they create continuous feedback loops from front-of-house to back-of-house—even using culture as a talent acquisition tool.

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Providing digital differentiation

In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s important for marketers to put their brands at the heart of new online or virtual experiences. Timms warned, “Strategy must go hand-in-hand with brand experience. Truly understanding what defines and drives your unique brand experience is key to competitive advantage and sustainable growth.”

To this end, Rufus Leonard’s established Brand Experience Framework focuses on five facets: Do, Connect, Think, Sense and Feel. What do we enable our customers to do? How do our experiences facilitate connection? What does our expertise help people to understand? How do our experiences stimulate customers’ senses? What emotions do we want to evoke?

In both the physical and digital worlds, marketers in each of these areas need to think about propositions that apply to their specific brands, and then create real differentiation by connecting what consumers want with what technology can do and the vision of the company with a clear, convincing message support planning and execution.

In this way, through the use of practical approaches and tools, there are opportunities to create distinctive — even category-defining — experiences by connecting brand strategy with design, technology with data, and organizational engagement with user experience.

To learn more about Rufus Leonard or to inquire about our proprietary EVE and Brand Experience frameworks, please visit www.rufusleonard.com.

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