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Launching A Successful Customer Experience Program and Branding It

May 03, 2022

Launching A Successful Customer Experience Program and Branding It

Getting your customer experience program off the ground and on-track for success requires a team effort. And getting everyone on board means making the program fit seamlessly into the rest of your overall company brand and strategy.

Taking the time to develop an effective customer experience program launch helps establish its place in your organization’s strategies and priorities—and makes it easier for your team to put it into action.

That means positioning it to your employees and your customers in a way that’s consistent with your company’s strategy, values, and brand image. A well-planned program launch can help you:

  • Position the program launch as a turning point in your customer experience (CX) strategy
  • Affirm the program’s importance as a company-wide initiative
  • Demonstrate to customers their feedback is important—and you’re committed to improving their experience

Determine your customer experience program KPIs

It’s easy to turn on a customer experience program and let it run, but planning for a successful program that drives business performance requires considering the evolution of goals over time and a commitment from the entire organization. SMG takes a staged approach with clients that focuses on meeting progress-specific objectives before moving to the next focused set of goals. This method establishes a strong foundation for growth and a program that produces ROI through impactful enterprise-wide outcomes.

When first launching a program, set your KPIs around driving response rates to boost confidence in your CX data through volume. Work to increase company-wide program engagement by sharing results with all levels of the organization down to front-line teams. In this first phase where you are driving visibility and engagement both with customers and team members, stick to KPIs that are consistent across the organization so all teams are working toward the same objectives.

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How are successful customer experience programs deployed?

A customer experience management platform is a significant investment both financially and, if done correctly, in commitment of company logistics and personnel. To maximize your ROI and ensure your customer experience program has the best possible impact on your organization, there are some best practices to follow making sure your transition is smooth and your program is built to achieve long-lasting impact.

Getting company-wide buy-in by establishing open leadership

The most important thing to remember about investing in a customer experience program is it takes a company-wide commitment to move the needle. A truly effective program needs to cascade across the entire organization, with everyone in the company understanding early on how their role impacts the customer experience.

To break down walls and secure organizational buy-in, establish a cross-department steering committee. By gathering internal stakeholders from different areas of your business, you’re more likely to:

  • Develop a customer experience strategy capable of impacting the entire company
  • Find innovative ways to sync up your CX improvement efforts
  • Make sure the right people are in the room when opportunities arise

Don’t let your customer experience program live in a vacuum. Make sure it reaches every level of your organization—from the c-suite to the front lines.

Incentivizing participation

An effective customer experience program needs to deliver on great insights, and great insights start with quality feedback, which depends on a healthy sample from the right people. Even loyal customers need a little encouragement to provide companies with this valuable information, which is why providing the right incentive is a key element to the success of your customer experience management strategy.

How to choose the right incentive

There are a number of common incentives to explore—dollars off, free items, percent off, BOGO, sweepstakes, and loyalty points to name the major ones. Well-chosen incentives should:

  • Appeal to the majority of your customers
  • Increase typical return visit cycles
  • Make it easy for the front line to execute
  • Stand out as different from other brand promotions

Our experience has shown the effectiveness of an incentive can depend on your industry and may need to be refined as you go based on the data you receive. For example, one client was able to determine a higher-value free item with a purchase led to stronger sales than a less-expensive free item without a purchase. This shifted their incentive-based survey program from a loss to a revenue-generator, which can be an especially sensitive concern for franchisees who can sometimes be reluctant to adopt incentive programs they perceive as a loss.

Branding to make it uniquely yours

When your program acts as a true extension of your existing brand strategy, engagement is easier for employees and customers alike. Customizing your program to work within the structure of your organization makes it easy for employees to understand how the program fits the business, and how their specific role supports it. Instead of feeling like an added responsibility, a branded program feels like a tool that can help them do their jobs better—which ultimately means serving customers and driving loyalty and growth.

Branding your program means:

  • Giving it an easily identifiable name that fits your overall brand strategy
  • Creating store signage that resonates both internally and externally
  • Training and educating employees
  • Engaging your customers about the program

A CX branding rollout in practice: Firehouse Subs

Restaurant brand Firehouse Subs has a clear theme established throughout their entire brand strategy. With a firefighting-focused history, they knew their CX program had to match. They kicked off their efforts with a naming contest to give the program a brand that paralleled their strong existing culture. The winning title? The Excellence Monitoring System—or EMS. Giving the employees a chance to be part of the rollout along with making the look and feel consistent with the rest of the brand helped position the program as a tool employees can use to do their jobs better and make a real impact on the business.

Your customer experience program should embody your brand’s commitment to creating better experiences for your customers and your employees alike. Giving it a name and a face that reflects your company culture is the best way to ensure a friction-free rollout and garner engagement on both sides of the register.

Key feedback techniques for customer experience programs

Today’s customer experience covers a wider range of touchpoints than ever before, constantly moving back and forth between the physical and digital world. A well-balanced CX program is a multi-faceted one that addresses the many touchpoints of customer interaction, including the digital experience, online ratings + reviews, contact center information, and brand research to have the most complete view of what customers are feeling. The result must be an experience designed to intake, process, and analyze a potentially endless stream of data.

Processing different feedback channels

A multi-source experience management (XM) reporting platform, when paired with dedicated professional services, can give brands the tools they need to implement custom, comprehensive feedback collection methods that gather information on the customer experience across every channel.

Get the best cross-channel insights with:

  • Solicited feedback: Intuitive site-intercept surveys actively solicit consumers for feedback during various stages of the purchasing or booking process. You can decide which pages or specific behaviors trigger the survey, giving your teams the opportunity to measure discrete, isolated experiences. By configuring survey invitation criteria to capture feedback at critical points in the digital journey, you can surface more targeted insights and design a user experience optimized for conversion at each step in the purchase decision funnel.
  • Unsolicited feedback: An always-on feedback tab passively gives online shoppers the opportunity to express how they feel about your brand’s website, the products/services, and the overall user experience without a prompt. Maybe it’s a loyal, repeat customer mourning a discontinued product—or a first-time visitor hitting a roadblock while navigating the app. Positive or negative, unsolicited feedback can help answer the questions you hadn’t even thought to ask.
  • Custom-designed surveys: Self-service technology allows clients to create and trigger specialized surveys, separate from standard invitation methods. With intuitive DIY survey capabilities, your teams can edit questions on the fly or choose from a pre-approved question bank, build logic paths to prompt drill-down questions based on prior responses, and take an iterative approach to testing and assessing conversion tactics.

To dig deeper into purchaser and non-purchaser behaviors in real time, brands need an integrated CX platform. By incorporating multiple survey options for a quick turnaround on feedback, it’s much easier to add depth to consumer data and improve how your brand attracts and retains customers in a competitive landscape.

Uncovering CX insights and driving long-term change

Once you’ve successfully launched your program, you need to go one step further to make sure it’s built to last. Above all else, a good CX partnership is predicated on maintaining an open line of communication with everyone involved within your organization. Additionally, keep your program on track by working with your CX partner to share your brand’s strategic focus so they can deliver timely, relevant insights.

During the analysis stage, bring in complementary datasets and make sure the output is simple and easy to understand so you can share results broadly and quickly with internal stakeholders. Task your program expert with asking the right research questions at the right time, as well as keeping your client service team appraised of questions from the steering committee, how data ties into KPIs and business outcomes, and other organizational priorities.

It is also key that you establish an ongoing dialog early on with your CX partner and expect the same in return. Your CX partner should be keeping you up-to-date on industry-specific research best practices, CX platform developments, and key improvement opportunities across your organization.

Aligning change with your brand to improve customer experience

A customer experience program that fits seamlessly into your existing strategy, brand, and company culture is critical for buy-in from your employees and customers alike. Firehouse Subs, for example, is a great example of a brand who built their program with an intentional and consistent look and feel—and results that make real improvements on their customers’ experiences. After all, that’s the goal for any successful customer experience program—getting great feedback that leads to insights and action.