The longer the coronavirus pandemic persists, the more Darwinian the business climate will become: only the strongest organizations will survive. The survivors are likely to be the organizations that recognize long-term success isn’t premised on having the hottest product or lowest prices, which makes them easily replaceable. Rather, they know that a sound customer experience strategy is a differentiating advantage that will help them recover after the COVID-19 pandemic.

How does a customer experience strategy contribute to long-term success? When organizations follow customer experience best practices, they improve customer loyalty. Higher customer loyalty increases customer retention rates and spending per customer.

In our Customer Experience Best Practices Study, we analyzed more than 50 service practices—everything from leadership activities to cross-organization collaboration to training and coaching—to understand what makes some organizations more successful at delivering a great customer experience. We found that the key indicator for success was whether the organization improved its customer satisfaction (CSAT) score in the past year.

We also looked at the organizational practices that contribute to a higher CSAT score in “Leader” organizations, which had improved their CSAT. We learned that the difference between a customer experience strategy that succeeds and fails is often executive investment: it’s not enough for an organization to create a strategy if its leaders don’t walk the talk.

In our survey, three executive behaviors set Leader organizations apart. Only 18%, or about one in five, responding organizations met all three of these criteria. Notably, 85% of these organizations reported an increase in their CSAT in the last year.

Here’s what these executive behaviors are, so you too can adopt them to improve your organization’s customer experience strategy.

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1. Leader Organizations Commit Resources to Improving Their Customer Experience Strategy

While a majority of both Leader (73%) and Laggard (organizations that have experienced stagnant or declining CSAT scores; 56%) believe that customer loyalty is key to success, not all put that belief into action. According to executives and service managers, executives in leader organizations significantly outpaced Laggard organizations in committing the resources necessary to continuously improve their customer service strategy, by a margin of 30% (56% to 26%).

One metric that clearly differentiates Leaders from Laggards is spending on customer experience training. Leader organizations spend nearly $1,500 per service associate and service manager each year, 50% more than Laggard organizations. And one in four Laggard respondents say their organizations invest less than $50 per associate per year, while nearly one in four Leader respondents spend more than $2,500 per associate per year.

2. Leader Organizations Have an Owner of Customer Experience at the Executive Level

Two-thirds of Leader organizations reported having an owner of customer experience at the executive level, compared to 45% of Laggards. Executives in Leader organizations recognize a clear link between positive customer experiences and business outcomes, so they are more willing to invest in initiatives, including training and coaching, to ensure their organization is following customer experience best practices. Executives who lack this understanding are more likely to lose interest and move on to other projects, so customer experience practitioners should focus on building a business case, backed by hard numbers, that reflects the return on investment of a sound customer experience strategy.

3. Leader Organizations Have a Cross-Functional Customer Experience Team

Just under half (44%) of Leaders have created customer experience councils with representatives from marketing, sales and customer service—27% more than Laggard organizations. Because the customer experience begins with the awareness stage and continues through purchase to implementation, it’s essential to get perspectives from representatives of every team that touches the customer journey to better understand your customers’ path. Armed with this information, your organization will be able to brainstorm ways to bridge any gaps between your teams to ensure a seamless customer experience.

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Invest in Service Ready to Improve Your Organization’s Customer Experience Strategy

Sustainable improvements to the customer experience begin with leadership from the top. Executives must communicate that customer experience is a critical business strategy and support that strategy with tangible commitments of resources and funding, including investments in training.

Our Service Ready customer service training prepares service teams to deliver customer experiences that keep customers coming back. Contact us to learn how Service Ready offers your organization a competitive advantage.

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