Rethinking Your Customer Experience? Follow these 5 steps to get started

Over the past year, I’ve led more than two dozen workshops helping companies of all sizes map their customer experience (CX) journeys.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that most people overestimate what a good CX looks like, but underestimate the journey it takes to get there. that’s why three fourth Companies believe they deliver a strong, personalized experience, yet less than half of consumers agree.

Small businesses often get caught in a cycle of repeating the same problem over and over with little progress. No amount of brainstorming sessions or quarterly strategy meetings can fix a CX strategy that lacks a clear vision, internal buy-ins and relevant metrics from the start.

Is it time to rethink your CX strategy? Here are five simple, but effective steps to get you started in the right direction.

1. Set a clear, bright North Star.

A CX North Star is more than an aspiration, it is a mission that is implemented and activated by every part of your business. Your North Star describes how your customers should feel when they interact with your brand–and helps inform your investment in achieving that vision. For example, at my workplace Mobiquity, our North Star is combining the best of human-centered design to help customers find meaning for their business and relevance to their customers.

With a clear North Star, you can work backwards to simplify the complexities that get in the way of a seamless digital experience. As you reach milestones, customer expectations change or your business evolves, your North Star should evolve. less than half Each year we review and evaluate their CX strategy, despite nine out of ten recognizing their CX strategy is critical to success.

2. Don’t assume that you know what your customers want.

The executives I work with are experts in their fields with decades of product experience. They assume they know what their customers want– but that usually isn’t the case. Proximity to business can obscure an objective analysis of customer demands. Before assuming what your customers want, ask them. Remove misconceptions from your strategy by employing objective, analytical methods such as market research and voice customer surveys.

You should be able to back up your decisions with research that paints a more complete picture of your customers and their needs. Be prepared to change your mind when the data goes against your preconceptions. Finally, remember that customer expectations are always changing. If you’re not talking to your customer regularly, your data can quickly become irrelevant.

3. Get your teams on the same page.

CX should not fall on the shoulders of your product team, or any one department for that matter. This requires participation, cooperation and, importantly, alignment from everyone in your organization.

A strong CX North Star puts the consumer at the center of all of your products, services and processes–and is one way to ensure that teams across the organization are working toward the same goals.

4. Make your KPIs relevant.

only 15 percent Many businesses are satisfied with the way CX is measured. But perhaps even more worrying, only six percent are convinced that their measurement system enables strategic and tactical decision-making.

Problem? Many of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that organizations use to track engagement don’t measure to the heart of the matter: whether experiences are working well for end users. For example, setting a goal to increase session time on your website could indicate an increase in engagement, or it could mean that your customers are not getting what they are looking for.

Set KPIs that are relevant to how customers interact with your products and services, rather than emphasizing higher engagement numbers regardless of actual experience. When you reevaluate your metrics, consider your North Star and its goals: Are your processes easy to use? Are you driving brand loyalty and emotional connection? Are you delivering what you promised customers?

5. Build your CX and trading strategy.

Business leaders have long made CX a low priority – an option to invest more resources in marketing, product development and other corporate functions that they can easily measure. But as organizations get better at measuring digital experiences, they quickly realize the value of good CX. In fact, companies that invested in customer engagement increased revenue. 70 percent,

no need to be ashamed

From startups vying for initial investment to small businesses looking to scale, companies often struggle to chart a CX roadmap. No need to embarrass – it’s a challenge for even the smartest business leaders.

The earlier you build a CX strategy as a small business, the less headaches you’ll have as you grow. If you’re willing to change the way you think about your consumers, you’re already on the right track. With a few other best practices, you can change the way you engage your customers– and everyone will be better off for it.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.