Customer Experience Strategy: Developing a Customer Experience Vision and Principles

Author: Alex Allwood
Principal Consultant

A customer experience vision and principles are powerful communication devices to inspire, unite and educate people across the business on a one-company experience that’s distinctive and delivers value.

Business leaders today recognise the importance of providing great customer experiences (CX). However, most have not transformed their culture to capitalize on the competitive advantages that CX delivers, preferring instead on a strategy of step change in customer facing functions and specific touchpoints.

High performance brands such as Amazon, Airbnb and Disney are known for their distinctive, emotional and personalized experiences; with the intent to make a difference in their customers’ lives. What sets these leading brands apart is their commitment to a culture of customer centricity by putting the customer at the centre of their decision making and day-to-day actions.

What I often see is organisations wanting to provide a signature customer experience based on a traditional strategic approach, such as competitive product or service offerings and positioning. Unlike these traditional approaches, the fundamental step in developing a customer experience strategy is to firstly understand the needs and expectations of your customers.

Prior to commencing customer experience strategy development, I always ensure my clients map the end-to-end customer journey from their customer’s perspective; this requires in-depth, qualitative discussions with their customers to deliver an experience blueprint to develop the strategy.

Fundamentally, the CX strategy creates a framework for action that’s underpinned by an understanding of what matters to your customers. The strategy sets out a shared, one-company aspiration, the degree and pace of change and how value will be measured.

Importantly, the CX strategy communicates a high level of leadership commitment to a program of cross functional change and customer led problem solving and innovation.

Developing a customer experience vision and principles to guide the business’s day-today work is the foundation of the CX strategy. The vision and principles are grounded in customer insights specific to your organisation and therefore deliver differentiation.

To be effective and sustainable, the CX vision needs to align with the corporate vision, values and brand promise. In Amazon’s case, their CX vision is their corporate vision: ‘Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online’.

At this early stage of customer-centric cultural change, collaboration is essential. My approach is to co-create the CX vision and principles to ensure people across the business feel connected to the customer aspiration and how it will be delivered.

In my experience, when the business works together to co-create a shared CX vision and principles it promotes ownership and buy-in, first person narratives that flow back into the business and a process for modelling customer experience improvements.

The litmus test for a robust CX vision and guiding principles is if they are understood broadly. If the statement of aspiration is ambiguous or vague, employees will likely be asking ‘what does that mean and how do we deliver that’?

As a guide I recommend the statement be simple; no more than 5-8 words, be clear in the desired commitment and be compelling to inspire change.

With a clearly defined aspiration, the role of customer experience principles is to guide the day-to-day work. Every team member across every functional group should understand these shared standards and how these are to be delivered.

Communication reinforced by training, recognition and performance metrics underpin the guiding principles. From the leadership team and across functional teams, everyone needs to understand how the guiding principles should influence their decision making and actions.

Guidelines for developing a Customer Experience Vision and Principles
• The intention is to make a difference in customers’ lives.
• The customer experience strategy must be grounded in customer insights.
• The CX vision will guide the strategy.
• It should align with the corporate vision, values and brand promise.
• The strategy must be specific to your business to drive competitive advantage.
• Galvanise with the power of collaboration to promote buy-in and ownership.
• The customer experience vision cannot be ambiguous or vague.
• If the statement is to be sustainable it should be simple, clear and compelling.
• Embed the CX vision with guiding principles to inform day-to-day decision making.