Customer Experience Planning

Keeping means and ends straight is a way forward.

Busy brand builders have needs. You hire advertising agencies to develop campaigns, PR firms to coordinate announcements and events, and developers to create websites. Your latest “brand refresh” yielded some graphic templates a few years ago, but now, what do you do about Twitter and Facebook? How about your event strategy? Mobile strategy? It can get overwhelming.

Too often, means and ends get mixed up. Keeping them straight is a way forward. Each of your suppliers might suggest tactics, but you don’t have an unlimited budget or clear priorities. When a resource or tactic drives the strategy, it’s easy to miss the big picture.

Your brand is the perception of your company in the minds of your customers. Actions speak louder than words, so that perception is based on a series of interactions with your brand. Each interaction is a customer touchpoint, which should be designed and orchestrated to create a desired effect.

Brand builders need to decide what they’re promising, and to whom they’re promising it. A clear brand position will lead you to an understanding of how you want to be perceived by your target audience – your Perception Goal.

Map your current customer interactions with consideration of how they fit into a larger selling cycle. You can organize these customer touchpoints into a linear sequence, organized by phase:

  • Awareness – Key metric is recall, being part of the considered set
  • Convince – Key metric is closing, sealing the deal
  • Buy (or otherwise commit) – Key metric is sales or your primary desired transaction
  • Support – Key metric is customer satisfaction, recommendations, and loyalty

In the big picture, it doesn’t matter whether a customer finds you through a salesperson, on Twitter, or at an event. Each tactic is a means to the same end: building awareness. The same is true for each step in the selling process. From there, it’s easier to develop future-state scenarios with ideal customer interactions, based on your Brand Perception Goal. A gap analysis between your current and future state is a basis for prioritized strategic planning.

You’re busy. If you’re lucky, you’ll stay that way. Having a better understanding of your customer’s experience is a first step toward getting all those ducks in a row.

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