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The 42 Keys for Spectacular Customer Experiences

While it’s easy to look at any business and list maybe a dozen starting points for building a better and more effective Customer Experiencestrategy, researchers from The Marketing Factbook have identified the 42 top areas – dubbed ‘CX Keys’ – with which businesses can start a genuinely transformational CX Improvement Strategy. This article is copyright 2021 The Best Customer Guide.

Every marketer, every executive, every business owner… We all know that customer satisfaction is inextricably linked to customer retention. In simple terms, a happy customer will tend to come back while an unhappy customer will tend to go elsewhere next time. It always used to be the case that customers would “vote with their feet”.

The problem today is that they also “vote with their social media”, which greatly multiplies the impact of a customer’s feelings about a brand or supplier. Think about the various ‘viral’ stories of bad (or even downright insulting) customer service that have blazed their way around the internet in recent times. Today, one customer who has a really bad experience can potentially reach billions of others with their story.

The problem, thanks to the internet at large, is that you can never tell which customer that’s going to be, or when, or where, or why. You have to cover all bases and make sure that every customer’s experience is at least good enough to make them want to keep coming back. In an ideal world, you want them to become Brand Ambassadors! So with so many different aspects of even the smallest business to consider, The Marketing Factbook’s research team set out to identify every single way you can make every single customer experience an opportunity for incremental growth through increased customer satisfaction and even stronger customer loyalty.

What are the CX Keys? Many of the CX Keys identified apply to organizations in every market and sector while some will more readily apply to specific sectors (such as retail). Regardless, the areas in which customers have contact with an organization – the ‘touch points’ – are usually the most obvious places in which CX improvements can be made. These are termed ‘Direct CX Keys’. All the CX Keys and their practical application are detailed in The Customer Experience Factbook report which is available online in PDF, Kindle and Print formats, here:

The 24 Direct CX Keys In fact there are potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of Direct CX Keys that will need to be addressed depending on your sector, business model, channels, supply chain, distribution, business processes, customer service options, and so on. But, starting with organizations in most business-to-consumerand business-to-businessmarkets, and without focusing too much on global cultural differences, there are 24 main Direct CX Keys which form the basis for a truly effective – and profitable – CX improvement strategy:

  1. Sales & Marketing Channels

  2. Advertising & Copy Writing

  3. Sales Funnel Roadmap

  4. Purchase Journey Roadmap

  5. Customer Lifetime Journey Roadmap

  6. Consistent Multi-Channel Messaging & Offers

  7. Usability, Features, Availability & Reliability of Digital Channels

  8. Geographical Locations & Proximity

  9. Trading/Opening Hours or Restrictions

  10. Parking/Parent & Child/Disabled Access/Pet Friendly

  11. Internal & External Signage & Displays

  12. Store Cleanliness & Lighting

  13. Employee Presentation, Knowledge & Empowerment

  14. Merchandising/Store Layout

  15. Product Range/Selection

  16. Items In-Stock, Frequent Re-Stocking

  17. Competitive Pricing, Offers & Service

  18. Customer Loyalty/Reward Programs

  19. Personalized, Timely & Relevant Offers, Rewards and Benefits

  20. Online or Mobile App-based Store-finder/Stock-checker

  21. Purchasing Online or In-Store, for Delivery or Collection

  22. Ease of Check-Out, Payment, Minimal Queueing

  23. On-Receipt Messaging (Transactional Marketing)

  24. Product Returns & Refunds

  25. Customer Service & Complaints

  26. Customer Feedback Solicitation

The 16 Indirect CX Keys However, there are lots of other areas of any business that can indirectly affect the customer experience – such as hiccups in the supply chain, resulting in frustrating out-of-stock situations – which are termed ‘Indirect CX Keys’, and are all too often forgotten or under-played even in modern CX strategies.

The same rationale that applies to Direct CX Keys also applies to Indirect CX Keys: for example, while not every organization has a supply chain that could affect its customers (e.g. a pure consulting services provider), all organizations have staff who – at the most basic level – are responsible for the services provided and for ensuring that the delivery process is smooth and satisfying for the customer.

The following Indirect CX Keys are areas which don’t necessarily have a direct effect on a customer’s interactions with the business itself, but which can have a significant knock-on effect due to their influence over other more Direct CX Keys:

  1. Overall Business Model

  2. Corporate Policies and Processes

  3. Back-Office Personnel (i.e. out of customer sight)

  4. Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Plan

  5. Business Partners & Sponsors

  6. Market Forces/External Influences

  7. Product/Service Planning and R&D

  8. Manufacturing Facilities & Personnel

  9. Supply Chain & Logistics

  10. Quality Assurance

  11. Packing & Shipping

  12. Technology & Infrastructure

  13. Data Handling, Compliance, Privacy & Security Measures

  14. Mystery Customer/Customer Feedback Program

  15. Ongoing Employee Training

  16. Employee Happiness, Health & Well-being

Customers must feel they can trust you Anyone who has been tasked with improving their organization’s Customer Experience – or is considering CX as a long-term driver of profit – will find their efforts rewarded well, but not necessarily from day one.

Customers do have a tendency to distrust any “grand new initiative” and big promises a brand makes and, perhaps ironically, the more suddenly and loudly they’re introduced, the less they’re trusted. Sitting at the heart of any customer’s experience with a brand is their own trust in that brand and what it stands for, and that trust is built on earlier experiences rather than today’s big promises about what will happen tomorrow.

Management buy-in is essential too It’s vitally important, then, that C-Level executives back the initiative should understand that their ROI (return on investment) will come in the form of a slow start, followed by an upward growth curve. However, unlike most growth curves, there doesn’t necessarily have to be a diminishing return over time.

In fact, if you continue to innovate and improve the customer experience, the rewards should continue growing. So while it is completely valid to improve CX working toward a defined timeline or specific business goal (such as ‘a 20% reduction in annual customer defection’), an ongoing CX Improvement strategy has the potential to be the initiative that keeps on giving.

The Marketing Factbook’s truly practical guide to CX improvement, The Customer Experience Factbook, goes into considerable detail and provides practical advice on building and executing your own game-changing CX Improvement Strategy. The guide is available as a PDF document, as well as in print and on Amazon Kindle, at

This article was first published by Customer Strategy Network. Permission to use has been granted by the publisher.

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