Years ago, long before you and I were born, travellers and explorers didn’t have the luxury of GPS. Go even further back, and they didn’t even have the luxury of a rudimentary compass. Instead, they used the stars. In particular, the North Star.
But that’s enough about intrepid explorers and daring deeds. Daring deeds take on a different form in our line of work, namely, pushing ourselves to make more money and harness more eyeballs on our products, services, and marketing.
So how does all this tie into customer experience? Well, it’s simple when you think about it. Any business should have a set of guiding principles that keep them on the straight and narrow and headed where they want to.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Why you need a North Star in the first place
As with any journey, digital experiences especially, there should be a set of guiding principles that keep your experience pointing in the right direction. Today’s radical explorers are the users – they explore every inch of your product, expecting it to work for them. The principles should be a reference point for the entire business, something that employees and leadership teams alike can refer back to and focus on.
Customer experience defines your business.
It’s the one thing that people know you for and will tell others about. It’s your reputation, lifeblood, past, present and future. Get it wrong, and it’s hard to shake. Get it right, and it can stick a booster rocket under your performance. Your product becomes sticky and shareable but, most importantly, becomes loveable and buyable.
Businesses that really care about their customers (and reputation) have a clear view of what they want to deliver and what they want their CX to be. And, like any journey, without a clear picture of the destination, you’ll never arrive. See your North Star as a map, guiding you toward the performance you always wanted.
So how do you find your CX North Star? How do you stick to it? And how do you get buy-in from the rest of the company?
Finding your CX North Star
Finding your North Star should be one of the first, fundamental, and foundational steps you take when launching your product or service. You need to start by asking the question: “what do I mean to my customers, and what do they mean to me?”. It’s also about working out what you want to set you apart from the competition.
Set your vision early on, and be ambitious while you’re at it. Set a core focus and areas that you can stretch towards, all while listening to your customers. It’s also about being forward-thinking and jumping beyond the next trend – be there before your competitors.
Make it clear what your product or service is going to deliver – and what it’ll feel like. Bring it all the way back to the business strategy, so the two go hand in hand.
Your North Star will provide focus, clarity, and perspective during times when all three waver. As CX is every touchpoint you have with your audience, it’s never been (and never stopped being) as important as it is today. We’re fighting to keep customers in every industry, and a bad customer experience is one of the biggest turn-offs you can find.
Start by setting out principles that define your CX for you and for your audience. What makes up your ideal experience, and what are the potential pitfalls? It should be ingrained in everything you do, from policies to products. Start at the end – where your strategy pictures yourself in however many years – and work backwards to today. What does that tell you about what you need to do to get there?
Sticking to your North Star
Sticking to your North Star means obtaining absolute, total, 100% buy-in from your organisation. No ifs, no buts, and no excuses. How, though? Well, it means genuinely supporting your team in all that they do. Offer them training, guidance, advice, and support to enable them to pull off the CX that you’re dreaming of.
Everyone should be fully invested in the customer journey – that means being a customer-centric company, not an ego-centric company.
We only say that because, well, it’s often the case that companies are driven by profit. Which is fair enough, we get that, but your customers are the ones using your product or service and putting the cash in the bank.
It’s also about culture. Build your culture around everyone having eyeballs on the strategy you’ve painstakingly created and bring together a collective accountability to ensure that there’s always someone keeping an eye on how far you’ve come – and what’s stopping you going even further.
So, start with your team. Start by investing in them and believing that they can deliver what you need them to – and set them up for success.
What does it all mean?
So, what does it all mean?
It means focusing on your customer from the very beginning. Run UX workshops to ensure that the user experience of your product is as brilliant as it can be, obtain feedback from your audience, evaluate and iterate.
You need to live and breathe it, too. That means asking the right questions at regular intervals – such as is this still right? Is this still easy to use and understand? Are there any blockers on the journey? Customer journey mapping is critical to the success of your CX North Star, so that’s always a good place to start.
And bring it back to relevancy. Is your customer journey relevant to the overall experience and end goal? If your customer needs to do X to achieve Y, what’s the path to get there?
All in all, setting your CX North Star involves a whole lot of looking in the mirror. It’s not always comfortable, but you have to be able to empathetic and self-critical to understand how your audience is going to perceive you and your service. But your biggest tool? Your customers themselves. Don’t be afraid of asking them for feedback, and you’ll be fine.