Sales and Marketing Software

How to Make Your Customer Experience Strategy a Non-Starter

By Bob Johnson, VP and Principal Analyst 

The buzz about setting customer experience (CX) strategy seems refreshing, but I predict many efforts will fall short because in reality success begins and ends with the creation of relevant, accessible content. Forrester Research states that the percentage of organizations that have a strategy in place has grown from twelve percent four years ago to thirty-seven percent today.  Many of these strategies ultimately rely on Fredrick Reinhold’s Net Promoter Score, or “would you recommend to someone else” to measure success. To drive this metric, practitioners refine and tweak processes. And as demonstrated by its adoption, many view this as a good approach.

What is bad is that over 60 percent of organizations don’t have a strategy in place. What are those organizations thinking? They moved a significant distance from when I headed the IDC Customer Experience practice some seven years ago. In the meantime their lip service to CX fails to give someone both responsibility and authority over budgets/priorities.

It is also interesting to consider the priorities some industry experts stress in a coming era where “machines and their capabilities bow to the ways that people think and act.” “Ahh,” you say, that sounds really good, and off you go to explore what they see as important: contextual analysis of where people are and what they do along with ethnography that looks at cultural phenomenon. You’re guided to invest in mobile and carry a “design for mobile first” mentality. And, as you do this, others suggest you expand the so-called journey maps to factor in past PC behavior in conjunction with growing tablet and smartphone use.  It sounds good, but these are ideas, not a strategy. Your first priority should not be looking in the candidate pool for people who can spell ethnography, eat cultural analytics or are knee-deep in statistical models and frameworks. Here is why.

Customer experience has foundational requirements that will not stay standing if you are intent to first build a second story balcony. Such focus on snap, crackle and pop distractions should only come later - after you have fully defined how to use content in context. Digital content has no peer if you want to build foundational strength. Customer experience success will hinge more on the content portfolio than anything else given that. B2B buyers have it driving over 50% of purchase behavior. It may not be as fascinating as other issues but without it your pretty customer experience face has little to say beyond one-liners, is seen as skin deep and fails to turn enough interactions into relationships.

But who wants to deal with content beyond campaign managers? It instantly becomes historical and people don’t get rewarded as they peer into the rear view mirror.  Often ignored, rest assured this elephant in the CX room will roll you, destroy customer engagement efforts and hinder even the best intentions.

Let me demonstrate the point and then tell you three keys to deliver content in context across the span of devices and platforms. Ask yourself which role feels more exciting, Chief Customer Officer (CXO) or Chief Content Officer (CCO). I suggest most choose Chief Customer Officer. But how can the CXO do much of anything without relevant content? They cannot and I’ll even suggest something as radical as a reporting structure where the CXO reports under the CCO to ensure content sets the agenda.

So picture yourself as a new CCO. To drive your customer experience strategy, you insist on three things for a content-centric foundation, one flexible across platforms, audiences, and as relevant as possible.


  1. Make it modular. If you design for mobile first it is clear shorter is better given the device form factor. So insist that every piece of content or conversation be usable in self-standing modules.
  2. Start with Linkage. Demand that any created asset be part of a series of assets to further understanding, buying stage completion, topics or value areas.
  3. Pass-along. Word-of-mouth has been replaced in many cases by word-of-web.  If you don’t insist that new content proves to have sharing elements such as lists, steps, terminology or frameworks any customer journey loses degrees of influence impact or interest intensity.

This is not rocket science. Assets and the idea of meeting customer needs have been around forever. But your strategy will struggle to gain momentum if you stare at the shiny things around CX and don’t first get your content in order


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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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