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Customer experience is always a shifting target, which evolves as consumer needs and expectations evolve. Clearly, customer expectations today are different than they were a year ago, and those needs and expectations will continue to change over time. So how can businesses develop and maintain customer experience (CX) programs that are as dynamic as the shifting landscape? Here are some suggestions.

Have a Clear CX Vision.

What do you want to achieve with your customer experience initiative? Know what your specific vision is before starting a CX program, said Sandra Matthews, marketing specialist at The Product Analyst. Setting a clear goal will help you determine whether you are on track or straying from it.

When choosing your vision, "it should be as achievable as possible,” Matthews added. “It may be grand but keep in mind that grand doesn't always mean it's the best. Align your vision to your client's satisfaction. It's the main goal of why you are creating a CX program in the first place."

Get to Know Your Customers (Again, and Again, and Again ...)

Another foundational element is having an understanding of your customers. Consolidating feedback from all channels will help you understand your customers, what they are like and assess how they will respond in certain situations, Matthews said. “There are various platforms for which you can gather feedback and people also vary which is why you should keep consolidating comments to get a gist of the possible problems that have been arising. It's also valuable to know what the problems are, to create more efficient solutions. Gathering numerous comments will give you an idea of the diversities of consumers and clients as well.”

Make no mistake: this is an ongoing effort. As feedback changes, brands can identify and adjust CX programs as needed.

Related Article: The Secret to Actionable VoC and Customer Journey Mapping Programs

Identify Customer Personas and Journeys

What are the main personas in your customer base? Depending on your vertical, there may be a number, but start with easy to identify distinct ones. "Observe whether your company has provided efficient products or services in their end, and you can do this by measuring their engagement. In some fields, this mapping will take years," said Matthews.

Keep in mind that a company's commitment does not end after a purchase or after a service has been rendered, Matthews added. Companies should always an eye out for return purchases or referrals for services. Focus innovations on improving your loyal customers journeys.

Related Article: Customer Loyalty: Understated and Overestimated

Frontline Employees Are Critical for CX

Advocates have been noting the impact of employees on customer experience for years now and businesses are catching on.

Engaged employees fuel great customer experiences on many levels, said Stacy Sherman, founder of Doing CX Right. The key is to take action to ensure employees are engaged. “I recommend leaders intentionally acknowledge great performance and overcommunicate. People feel motivated when recognized. If customers mention employees by name in a survey, for example, celebrate those employees so they continue to deliver excellence, even when their boss isn’t looking.”

Don’t wait for formal end-of-year reviews to tell employees how they are performing, Sherman added. "If you’re not appreciating employees throughout the year, your competitors will. They’re searching for great talent."

Capture employee feedback, said Matthews. Employees play vital roles in CX, so it's critical to check in with them. Companies should have a clear understanding of the barriers and variables causing ineffective service.

Employees who directly interact with customers are the best people to hear about reactions feedback from customers, said Matthews, "They know exactly the twists and turns which can be pivotal and essential to building that dynamic program."

Related Article: The Intersection of Employee Experience and Customer Experience