How to bake customer experience into your success recipe

Giving your customers the experience they want and demand starts with building a customer-centric organization, says Widen's Nina Brakel-Schutt

Of course, you know that providing your customers with a positive experience is important. After all, you’re drawn to such experiences, right? Every morning you go to that barista that makes your coffee just how you like it. You prefer that customer service rep that actually solves your problem or that website that just makes sense.

We live in an age of competitive convenience. Consumers have higher expectations from brands because they can. They have information available about any given product or service at any given moment, and options at every corner.

So, as a business in this high-stakes environment, how do give your customers an amazing experience that also contributes to your success?

Start with the right ingredients.

To give your customers the experience they want and demand, you first need to commit to building and nurturing a customer-centric organization. Every single person at your company, from leadership to the front line must prioritize the customer – their needs, wants, and priorities – in the decisions they make and the actions they take. This involves a few crucial steps:

1. Knead culture

You must weave the customer into the fiber of your company. While simple in theory, cultivating a specific culture, customer-focused or other, takes work. Success is contingent on factors like:

Democracy: Welcome the voices of employees, customers, and partners alike in decision-making so you can better serve your customers by understanding varying perspectives from multiple touchpoints.

  • Structure: Organize your team so you have the right people in the right places to meet your customers’ needs, while staying within your financial means.
  • Empowerment: Give employees the freedom to act in the best interests of customers and function outside of their job titles, even if it means straying from protocol, requesting exceptions, or challenging existing processes and procedures.
  • Reinforcement: Don’t expect cultural revolution to happen overnight. You must nurture a customer-focused culture and reinforce behaviors through actions, not just words.

2. Blend service with culture

Being a service-driven organization goes hand-in-hand with having a customer-focused culture. If your entire organization views decisions through a customer-first lense, the idea of providing exceptional customer service is the natural next step.

To be clear, this doesn't mean folding at every customer request or sacrificing your beliefs and bottom line. Rather, stay true to your brand promise while servicing your customers and prospects with their best interests in mind. Think about your offerings, products, or services as the vehicle to get your customer where they need to go. Don’t upsell them unless what you're selling will help them reach their goals. If your customers have a problem or challenge, take on the onus and provide the best solution you can.

3. Add the secret ingredient

The secret ingredient to successful CX is to make your customer the hero. Give your customer and their needs the spotlight, while you arm them with the tools and resources they need to overcome their most painful challenges and succeed.

All too often, organizations focus on their solutions, their product features, and their company. By putting the customer first, you respect the journey and struggles of your audience and speak directly to their interests, resulting in a stronger connection. Plus, this customer-first positioning helps you market better. What’s more effective, you posting a blog about how awesome your services and tools are, or letting your clients do the talking for you through case stories, testimonials, and interviews?

Serve up a great customer experience

Consistently providing your audience with top-notch CX requires an organization-wide adoption of that customer-first mentality, which includes:

  • Knowing your customer: Find creative ways to get to know your target audience so you can build buyer personas based on facts, not assumptions. Whether you chat with buyers at an event or formally interview, observe or survey them, you need to figure out what they need from you.
  • Meeting them where they are: From the time a prospect learns about their options to the moment they engage with your company and eventually become a referral-driving customer, you need to speak to their needs and mindset at every stage in their journey.
  • Giving them what they need: Give your audience the solutions, resources, and content they need for the particular stage they are at in their journey, while keeping your approach simple, personal, and human.
  • Arming yourself with tools: Find the right mix of tools that will not only help you better understand your target audience, but also help you create, manage, and deliver custom marketing content efficiently, and at the exact right time.

Enjoy the delicious rewards

But what about you? Don’t worry. When you put the customer first and provide them with a superior experience, their success is yours. The ROI of great customer service comes in many forms, both quantitative and qualitative:

  • Hard numbers: To understand the most concrete results, look at your data and measure your growth across KPIs like quality leads, opportunities created, opportunities won, new customer counts, retention, and net promoter scores.
  • Positive relationships: While less tangible, solid business relations leads to customer trust and, in turn, referrals and advocacy.
  • New revenue channels: By getting to know your customers, you can unlock needs you never knew existed, which can inform new products and services.
  • Better people: Attract better customers, as well as better employees and partners, that value the same things you do.
  • Better decisions: Make decisions based on buyer feedback, market demand, and user research, instead of knee-jerk reactions and hunches.
  • Market leadership: Blaze your own trails, redefine what customer service means, and reap the rewards of recognition from customers, competitors, analysts, partners, industry leaders and beyond.

Seconds anyone?

Whether your organization has always valued CX or you're working towards this goal, your job, as a B2B marketer, is never done. Just as the needs and priorities of your customer will shift and evolve, so must your approach. Continue to learn, grow, and test new ways to provide your customers with extraordinary experiences. Remember, hold true to foundational ingredients, like organization-wide customer centricity, audience understanding, and journey nurturing, which will make your customers, and in turn your company, a success.