The customer experience used to be all about the product. But the product is no longer the centre of the universe. With the right technology, anyone can replicate it. Gaining a competitive advantage now means making every part of the lead-to-revenue journey an exceptional one. In this Advocamp presentation, Jenny Cheng, Chief Product Officer at market intelligence firm InsideView, outlines the key steps for moving your organization’s idea of the customer experience from a product-first perspective to a holistic view of the customer journey.

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Here are 4 steps for creating a unified customer experience.

Step 1. Rethink how you engage with customers

InsideView realized that one-way interactions with its Customer Advisory Board weren’t really providing value for them, or for their customers.

They found a better approach was engaging in a discussion on customer challenges and pain points.

“We started to see themes come out of each of our customers,” says Jenny, following this adjustment in strategy. “And of the top four, only two were product-related.” The other two pertained to the engagement process around the product. From these discussions, InsideView had an internal conversation to see what could be done to affect change, then built a roadmap for execution. “We were really able to make a difference with our customers by taking that input,” Jenny adds.

Step 2. Prioritize the customer experience

Whether you have a direct or indirect relationship with your customers, every touchpoint adds up to the end customer experience. And the process isn’t linear—it’s progressive, particularly as you move into the SaaS/cloud space.

Rather than look at marketing, sales, product and customer support, in that order, focus on keeping customers committed every day, and with every interaction. “We continue to sell and grow customers at each point in the process,” says Jenny.

Creating a unified customer experience takes commitment and alignment across every touchpoint within the company—from brand, to outbound, PR, and the product and post-sales process. It has to be an end-to-end experience.

Step 3. Build a plan and follow it

Every business is unique, and thereby requires its own definition of success and success criteria. Once those have been identified, you can begin to plan our your long term success goals—and the success milestones you’ll need to hit along the way.

Think of the Eiffel Tower: it took 50 designers and engineers just to come up with the plans to build it, and more than 300 people over two years and two months to build it. In the same way, building a successful plan requires you to recognize that it’s a continuous process. Reach your milestones, learn from iterations, and continue to improve and deliver success on an incremental basis. “Have the final end goal,” Jenny reiterates, “but appreciate the successes as you build floor by floor.”

Step 4. Tell stories that engage your customers

Telling stories is the foundation of building customer loyalty. Jenny cites a Nielsen study that suggests consumers really want to “engage and understand the brands they buy, and feel an emotional connection.” It’s important at every point in the process, says Jenny, to tell the story and build a relationship with the customer. In the story, explain the “why,” and let your customers understand how you or your products can really benefit them.

These stories can help the customer connect the dots between the information, the context and the emotion to create a memorable experience. “And that’s ultimately what we’re looking for,” says Jenny, “for our customer experience to be memorable.”

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