Is Customer Experience Directly Linked to Business Strategy?

Answer:  Yes! Just think furniture!

[CX Strategy Series: Council Blog Post 1]

While the automotive industry is going through tremendous upheaval here in Canada and globally, the Ford Motor Company just hired a new CEO…  a furniture maker! 

Because they believe the future of the automobile will be based on Customer Experience (CX) and unless CX is the strategic focus for the business, Ford will not be successful.  The furniture maker they hired; Jim Hackett, created the very successful, world leading, office furniture business Steelcase, by putting the customer at the forefront of all business strategy decisions.

Over three blogs in the next few months, we will be exploring the importance of an organization’s business strategy being grounded in a Customer Experience Strategy.  In this first blog we will explore how having Customer Experience defined as the business strategy allows for clarity of company goals that can be aligned and leveraged to ensure that CX initiatives contribute directly to the improvement of an organization’s revenues and profits. In the second blog, we will explore how CX can be benchmarked to track results; and in the final blog, we will consider how organizations can make Customer Experience focused investment decisions to ensure more successful tactical plans, and results.

In a recent Canadian benchmark study that TMG International Inc., conducted in conjunction with Phase 5, it was identified that organizational alignment was the number 1 barrier to an organization’s successful adoption of a CX strategy. Part of this challenge has been that when an organization is not aligned around the importance of being CX focused, it is typically because they don’t see the direct benefit to their business strategy and financial objectives.  They see Customer Experience as a nice to have, but not germane to their business success. When looking further, the root cause of this misalignment relates to the fact that the organization has not defined what it means to be CX focused and as a result are not able to drive alignment, and demonstrate the link between a CX strategy and the business results.

An organization that recognized this challenge is the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA). Founded in 1906, the BCAA serves 1 in 3 BC households.  Despite having been named BC’s Most Loved Brand by IPSOS and 2018 Canadian Best Employer by Aon, BCAA recognized the need to not only strengthen their customer experience, but also to continue to attract new members and increase revenues.  To develop a link for CX with the business, BCAA decided to define the ideal customer experience by leveraging a co-creation research process to define the customer’s needs, and then state them in a Customer Intent Statement defined as BCAA’s future business strategy.  By engaging the management team in the process, the exercise was seen as a cross-departmental initiative and everyone felt accountable for customer experience. As the CEO described it….”the output…enabled us to define our aspirational customer experience - aligning it with our brand promise and strategic goals”. BCAA was able to leverage their vision of customer experience to be the foundation for their training, product development, and service design decision making, thereby linking customer experience with the financial goals for the business. Their continued success speaks for itself. 

So at the end of the day, it is not about the furniture, it is about the experience that drives a business!

In the next blog, we discuss in more detail how a well-articulated Customer Experience strategy is synonymous with business strategy,  business results and how to benchmark against it.

By: John Bardawill, Managing Director of TMG International Inc. and the Chair of CMA’s CX Council.

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