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  • Writer's pictureKeith Pelkey

Differentiating Your Customer Experience Strategy

STRATEGY is the most misunderstood, and over-used word in business. I challenge CEOs at their next leadership team meeting to ask his/her direct reports to write down what is the company’s Business Strategy. The answers will likely vary, be laden with actions items (tactics), demonstrate a lack of leadership strategic alignment, and confirm there is no common definition of the business strategy. A business strategy should guide the “nature, direction and framework” company leaders apply in making decisions to drive profitability and growth.

Traditional business strategies are formulated through the lens of the company’s products / services offered and the markets served. Leadership teams assess market size, revenue, growth potential and other factors to prioritize zones of interest and set the strategic direction. Today many companies enhance their business strategy by collecting insights on the experience their customer have with their key products and services. Such insights help leaders determine which projects or innovation initiatives best improve the customer experience, thus, helping the company form a Customer Experience Strategy.

While most Customer Experience Strategy leaders can articulate what customer experience means, they miss the strategic differentiator that sets them apart from their competition relative to processing customer experience insights into designed and delivered solutions. Rooted in traditional business structures and basic human nature, functions like sales, marketing, or IT often execute customer experience projects from their own self-introspective mindset. Simply, they fail to incorporate customers into the product and service experience solution design.

There are really just two paradigms that shape a company’s Customer Experience Strategy. Either a company has an “Inside-Out or an Outside-In” mindset in how they define and approach customer experience-centric solutions.

Inside-Out Thinking

Inside-Out customer experience strategy relies on the “experts” in the company to design solutions based on what they think the data is telling them per their own business experience prism. Companies gather and analyze customer data - Net Promoter Score (NPS), surveys, IT analytics - to gain customer insights. Internal teams are then established to design solutions. To be sure, gathering customer data and applying it to an improved product or service experience is admirable and will likely advanced improve customer satisfaction. But this Inside-Out approach often falls short in designing meaningful, sustainable solutions, and can waste precious time and money.

Outside-In customer experience strategy is based on empathetic or observational research of product / service interactions by customers, and the inclusion of customers in the solution design. NPS surveys often do not solicit enough details or clarity on why a person would recommend, or not, a given product or service.

Inside-Out Thinking

Only by observing people, applying empathetic research techniques, and asking detailed questions will substantive and true customer insights be attained. Plus, including the customer as part of the solution design team garners better feedback during the iteration of solutions to produces a better final result. The Customer Experience Strategy differentiator between Inside-Out and Outside-In thinking is the participation of customers in designing their own customer experience.

Recently, Shift participated in a redesign of a medical services facility. The medical facility leadership, based on the collected data and their own internal “inside-out” analysis, hypothesized that a “heavy-dose” of technology services and an ornate clinic design would deliver the desired customer experience. By Shift applying empathetic research methods and involving the customer in the solution design, the opposite was found true. Customers preferred a better “human-to-human” relationship between medical staff and doctors over an abundance of technology or a fancy medical building.

Result, the expense and time consuming technology projects were replaced with more staff training that emphasized patient relationships. Likewise, the elaborate trappings of the proposed medical building were toned down. This Outside-In approach to gather meaningful customer insights and involving the customer in the solution design, helped save hundreds of thousands of dollars and kept the project on schedule.

In short, Shift transforms businesses through human-centered innovation. Whether it be a company’s strategy, culture, or a product or service, we create experiences that are viable, feasible, and desirable to real people.


Interested in learning more? Reach out to Shift to schedule a conversation, we’re always happy to chat.


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