When customers approach your company, they’re not just looking for a product or service. They’re looking for an experience—one that fully immerses them in your world.
But, how can you be the architect of that experience? How can you make sure everything customers see, do, and feel is the result of your master plan?
The key is to know three things: who your customers are, what the customer experience represents, and why it matters. You may know some of these things already, but if even one element is missing, the others become like shaky support beams: unable to support the creation you’ve so carefully crafted for your audience.
Today, we’re helping you find all the answers you need to define and master the customer experience. Let’s get started!
Know who your customers are
The first—and perhaps most important—step in constructing your customer experience is to be familiar with your audience. If you don’t know who you’re targeting, you can’t engineer solutions to delight them.
Start by shrugging off one big assumption: that the customer is always right. The problem with this premise is that it takes individual personalities, needs, and expectations and paints them with a single brush, leaving you to build your customer experience around a generalization.
Your customers deserve better.
Once you’ve scratched “the customer is always right” from your vocabulary, you can start building experiences around individuals. It all begins by defining your audience in terms of what attracted them in the first place. Ask questions like:
- Who are we?
- What differentiated value makes us unique?
- What problems do we solve?
- What do we offer?
- Why do we do what we do?
As you answer these questions, you’ll empower yourself to make the right promise to the right customer. This is the foundation of the customer experience.
But what does that really mean?
Know what “CX” really means
Knowing your customers isn’t enough: 100 people will have 100 different definitions of “a good customer experience,” leaving you to cater to 100 separate ideas of success.
It sounds like an impossible task—but it doesn’t have to be.
Instead, all you have to do is choose between two general sales methods:
- Selling to a customer.
- Building a product for a customer.
To understand the difference, pretend you’re in the business of selling pens:
The “selling” method means you’re listing off features—informative but impersonal, like an ingredients label. Customers quickly realize this is more about the pen than about their needs.
When “building,” you’re designing a product around a customer’s needs in real-time. You ask questions like:
- “Why do you need a new pen?”
- “What features are you looking for in a pen?”
- “What does the perfect pen look like to you?”
As the customer answers these questions, you position the pen as a solution to their problems, an answer to their needs—not a product offering.
Now, that’s all well and good; however, if you don’t know the “why,” even the building method will leave your customer experience lacking.
Know why CX matters
It’s common sense to put customers at the heart of customer experience, right? Have you ever asked why? Why don’t we put the focus on sales, employees, or even your brand story instead?
This “why” is rooted in the modern customer identity. Your audience is informed, educated, and motivated to take an active part in their own buying experience. As such, they won’t stand for brands that treat them like numbers on a page—they want to be treated like people. For that reason, savvy companies like yours use a customer-first mindset to build relationships, not sales opportunities.
But that doesn’t always mean giving your audience exactly what they ask for.
Do that, and your customer experience will quickly feel outdated and forgettable. As Steve Jobs famously said, “Some people say give the customers what they want, but that's not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they're going to want before they do.” That’s why it’s so important to put your audience at the heart of the customer experience: you should know these people so well that you can provide for their needs before they realize they have a problem or question.
Know what to do next
The final piece in becoming the architect of the customer experience is to put the “who,” “what,” and “why” together. That makes the “how.”
Here are a few things to keep in mind when building your customer experience:
- Perception matters: You might be delivering the best product and experience ever, but that won’t matter if your customers don’t agree. Keep in mind that the ultimate measurement of your success is their perception, not yours.
- Understand a customer’s perspective: While perception is important, customers don’t usually analyze how they “perceive” an experience. Instead, they judge it based on specific criteria, like whether they got what they wanted, how much effort it took to achieve their goals, or what emotions they were left with.
- Know what “satisfaction” means: Customers are more complicated than the satisfaction vs. dissatisfaction dichotomy. Instead, think about the difference between expectations and service quality. If quality exceeds expectations, you’ve achieved satisfaction.
- Utilize the SCARF framework: The SCARF framework helps reveal a customer’s hidden motivations, those that customers themselves may not even be conscious of.
SCARF stands for:
- Status: victory, prestige, and comfort.
- Certainty: health, safety, and security.
- Autonomy: freedom, individuality, and fun.
- Relatedness: togetherness and loyalty.
- Fairness: justice and equality.
Where construction begins
So, now that you know the “who,” “what,” “why,” and “how,” you have all the tools you need to become the architect of your customer experience. But where does construction begin?
Simple: with your customers’ voices.
It’s up to you to find the best, most effective way to turn your customers into storytellers and let them tell you who they are, what they want, and how you can serve them in fascinating new ways.
To start building, check out Alida’s customer experience solutions for help becoming a true architect.
Ashutosh leads CX Consulting & Services (EMEA & APAC) at Alida. He has been helping Global brands transform their customer experience, and thereby help scale up their customer acquisitions, retention, Up/ Cross Sells and Referrals. His unique 360 degree experience across Sales/ Marketing leadership, Customer Success, Brand/Product Management & Digital Transformation helps him be holistic in his approach to CX Transformation.