Don’t copy your competitors—create unique customer experiences with strategy

It’s easy to take cars for granted. When admiring a car, consumers can only get a small idea of the work involved in its creation. It’s a complex and strategic process that involves bringing together many people, skills and processes, from concept to manufacture.

The same applies to customer experience. It’s not something you magic over night. Customer experience transformations are grounded in a well-defined strategy that provides a clear direction to every person involved, including leaders, employees across all teams, and stakeholders. When done right, a CX strategy is the best tool in the box for aligning your entire business with your customers’ needs.

What’s a CX strategy?

When asked to define strategy, over 50% of 400 companies didn’t agree on a definition. Unfortunately ,“strategy” has fallen to the same unfortunate fate of “synergy” and “disruption.” It’s well and truly a  business buzzword—overused and causes much confusion.

Essentially, a CX strategy is a guide that explains the direction in which your company will head to make your prospective and existing customers’ experiences better. It includes the strategic analysis of external and internal factors, a strategic position that will set your dealership apart, and customer-centric goals and tactics.

  • Strategic analysis: Take a good look around

All the information you need to create a strong strategy is at your fingertips. Successful initiatives begin with examining and interpreting your surroundings and your system, aka strategic analysis. You’ve got to understand your customers, your dealership, and your market position like the back of your hand.

Get to know your customers

CX goals are always customer-oriented. So, first things first, you need to get up close and personal with your customers to understand their pain points, expectations, and behavior. This post on customer analysis offers up some tactics to get you started.

Take a long, hard look at yourself

While most would love to replicate the success of the tech behemoths, it’s not realistic given each company’s specificities. Internal strategic analysis helps companies understand themselves so they can create achievable goals.

This is all about understanding your dealership’s strengths and weaknesses especially in the context of customer experience. Questions to ask include: Which strengths drive positive customer feedback and how can you use them to your advantage? What are your weaknesses and would working on them help to improve CX?

Take a good look around you

Strategic analysis is also about understanding where your competitors stand so you can devise a plan to differentiate your company. When it comes to customer experience, what are they doing well (or better than you), what are they doing less well or not at all. Maybe they have a USP that more closely resonates with modern customers. Maybe they offer fewer ways for consumers to connect.

SWOT analysis is a technique commonly used in the business world to help gain a better understanding of both internal and external factors. It also helps to identify any potential opportunities for business growth, plus any threats to know about and prepare for.

  • Create your unique CX strategic position

You’ve heard it before and you will hear it more and more: customer experience is your key differentiator. Companies used to stand out based on their products or price, now it’s all based on the experience they deliver to customers.

The whole reason we’re talking about CX strategy is that we want to help you shift the gears toward CX. But you need to recognize that your competitors are also investing in CX. This means you have to make damn sure that the experience you create for customers at your dealership stands out. (Side note: improving CX doesn’t have to mean splashing out—it’s actually about making smart investment decisions guided by your CX strategy.)

CX differentiation starts with developing a strategic position based specifically on your company and your customers’ unique traits and goals. A good starting point for defining your positioning is the findings from your strategic analysis.

One example of unique positioning in the automotive retail market is CarMax. According to Forbes, the Fortune500 company makes more money from used cars than any other dealer in the US and is already reclaiming any lost market share due to the pandemic. Unlike many auto retailers, CarMax’s business strategy successfully marries online and offline capabilities and offers customers a continuous experience at every interaction. Customers can shop online, test drive at home, and purchase at the dealership without having to explain their needs over and over to a salesperson.

  • Decide what you’re doing and whether you’ve got the manpower to do it

Once you have clearly defined your CX vision and strategic position, you can start to translate these abstract concepts into strategic goals and tactics, which will be fleshed out in detail in a CX roadmap. To use a familiar analogy, this is deciding on the car parts you want to manufacture and how.

Based on observations from your analyses, you need to figure out which areas need improvement and how your dealership will tackle them. For instance, if a goal is to reduce the number of lost potential customers (those that choose not to buy), you might consider creating a feedback loop  Learn more about Spectrums AI to understand why, and improving your communication methods and tools.

Your strategy will also define the resources you need to accomplish your CX goals, including employees and digital technology.

  • Employees. Do you have enough employees with the right skills to achieve your CX goals within your timeframe? Here you may consider allocating specific skills to specific actions, making new hires, and how technology may help employees get the job done more efficiently.
  • Technology. Every CX strategy that stands a chance of success will include digital technology for automating processes that negatively impact the customer’s experience.  For example, customer experience platforms are tools that enable companies to provide quick and personalized service around the clock to keep customers engaged whenever they connect.

Adjust and repeat, adjust and repeat

We’ve covered some of the fundamentals of a solid strategy that will guide your customer experience transformation. You need to have a good grasp of who you are, who you’re up against, and how you’re going to win customers in the digital age.

We can’t stress enough how important your CX strategy will be. But it’s important to remember that it’s not set in stone. Your CX strategy is an essential blueprint to guide your CX transformation. Yet you must keep adjusting to fit your customers, who will continue to evolve.