Talk to 10 different customer experience (CX) professionals, and you may get 10 different definitions of what a CX strategy is and what it does. One CX professional from a company with more than $65 billion of funds under management confided in us, “[When we started], we didn’t even know what a CX strategy was and what it did.” A distressing number of CX strategies are either too high-level to be useful or else a laundry list of principles and initiatives without context. Executives need CX strategies that are both forward-looking and have an actionable level of detail. Therefore, above all else, a CX strategy must serve as a road map to actualize, deliver, and measure progress toward the customer-centric goals of the business.

The CX Strategy Must Actualize The Business Strategy

Greg Marion, VP of enterprise strategy at USAA, describes the four parts of a business strategy as: 1) vision; 2) who (intended customers); 3) how (critical differentiator); and 4) metrics (KPIs for gauging success). A CX strategy, he continues, plugs into the “how” by setting the vision for customer experience and defining the set of goals and actions needed to drive business results.
In line with these ideas, Forrester defines a CX strategy as:
A plan that guides the activities and resource allocation required to deliver intended experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations in accordance with the goals of the organization.
This means that the customer experience strategy must:

  • Flow from overarching business goals. The CX strategy should help fulfill the company’s customer-centric business mission. When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella succeeded Steve Ballmer in 2014, he set forth a bold new customer-focused mission for Microsoft to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Paramount to achieving Nadella’s future-looking objective was a radical overhaul of its customer engagement structure, which required Microsoft to re-engineer its sales process, reorganize its enterprise operating teams, and build out a customer success management organization of over 1,600 employees.
  • Guide the activities and investments of the organization. Many CX pros find themselves running from one customer-facing fire to the next as they string together a series of ad hoc projects to make their existing CX “less bad.” A CX strategy brings order to this chaos by introducing purposeful planning. This requires CX transformation leaders to prioritize what’s most important for their customers’ experience and their business’ success.
  • Address the delta between customer expectations and internal capabilities. A fully developed CX strategy is the most powerful instrument a CX pro can lean on to bridge the gap between what customers want and what their organizations can deliver. To close competency gaps, more and more European companies turn to service design to resolve CX pain points by looking at the internal employee journey first.

Forrester has identified the six key components that comprise a complete CX strategy: a CX vision, a customer description, gap analysis, road map, accountability outline, and KPIs. I invite you to read my report, “CX Strategy Essentials,” or message one of the Forrester team to open a dialogue about what CX strategy means for your organization.