In my work with customers across the globe, one key lesson I’ve learned is you cannot build an effective strategy on a hazy understanding of your customer or service model. It is the old “quality in, quality out” mantra – what data and views “feed” your customer experience strategy will set the tone and quality of the result.

There are three steps that I recommend every organization consider to lay the groundwork:

1 . Build a customer experience blueprint. Many leading organizations reevaluate their customer service approach and develop a customer experience blueprint to ensure that every interaction is more meaningful and consistent with their brand.

Getting clarity on your target customers and building a blueprint of their typical touch points at each and every turn is the key. Think of a “map” that helps ensure your organization monitor all key interactions, and manage to the customer experience “model” your business has defined. From there you can ensure your systems are optimal and your employees are fully supporting your customers.

2 . In business today, apathy is not an option. Every organization needs regular positive and negative feedback to ensure they are seeing the whole picture. Your customers need to feel comfortable giving feedback of whatever kind. They need to know you are listening, and that you are taking action. When your model is performing well, you will see that negative feedback is actually an opportunity for improvement.

Beyond effective measurement and monitoring, you need to ensure you are visibly showing your customers that you appreciate their feedback; that you are listening, and that you are taking action to do things differently as a response to their needs and requests.

3. Communicate “the good, the bad, and the ugly”. A real challenge for most organizations is internally communicating highly critical customer feedback to senior management. For many reasons, organizations shy away from sharing the glaringly ugly issues so they can be resolved. “Don’t shoot the messenger” is the key message here! The most successful organizations use the results of customer experience surveys and other programs as the fundamental building blocks for change – ensuring strategic decisions around the vision, brand and organization are aligned with lessons learned.

There are a lot of ways to tackle better customer understanding and service strategies. Over the next few weeks I’ll be back to share some additional detail and insights on blueprints, experience measurement and monitoring, as well as managing organizational change. Want some more tips and tricks for improved customer experiences? Stay tuned for Part Two!

By Natalie Romano.

Natalie Romano is a Managing Principal Consultant within Avaya’s Strategic Consulting team and has almost 20 years of experience working with our top global customers, helping them to drive performance excellence within their businesses.