- Baldrick: “I have a cunning plan, Mylord. It’s called a CX strategy.”
- Edmund Blackadder: “Yes, Baldrick, let us not forget that you tried to solve the problem of your mother’s low ceiling by cutting off her head.” (Blackadder Quotes, 2021)
When you feel you require a Customer Experience or CX strategy, it is time to revisit your business strategy. The need for a CX strategy means you dropped the ball somewhere else. Why? Because CX is not a strategy but an actualization of your business strategy (Hart, 2018), in my opinion, the only one you must have. Hart (2018) disagrees with the latter since he describes a CX strategy’s role within a business one. I beg to differ. By the way, when in need of a CX strategy, the ball you dropped is the exclusion of the primary customer[i] in your master plan (a.k.a. business strategy) to meet the aspired business ends. I don’t call it even a business strategy, but a Marketing & Innovation Strategy, since those are the only value-creating business functions (Drucker, 2003).
Overused and too often misunderstood is how I describe the word strategy. The word’s definition points to three stirring categories:
Primary customer: the select group of customers that unlock the most value for the business (Simons, 2014).
- the deployment of force to support adopted policies;
- clever stratagems[ii] or tricks to achieve one’s goals, and;
- adaptation to serve a function in achieving evolutionary success (Merriam-Webster, 2021, 1).
In short: force, pseudo-marketing and sales, and systems.
When you feel you need a CX strategy, do you require it to deploy force, trick customers into buying, or support your business’s evolutionary process? Since I argue that CX is not a strategy, the question refers to your business strategy. And, it is quite a serious question. So is your answer. And, regardless of your answer, your customers always have an experience. The thing is, you cannot prevent them from having one. Likewise, you cannot avert your employees from having an employee experience or your supplier from having a supplier experience.
Why is CX not a strategy, and why shouldn’t it be? First, as established earlier, it is an actualization of a master plan, and second, it would perpetuate silos. Silos stand in the way of good customer experiences, and, therefore, silo strategies are never the brightest idea. Most silo heads find this point of view hard to swallow; it is fun to strategize and feeds egos well. However, they have more critical challenges: cross-functional collaboration, excellent project planning, outstanding people and management skills, and tactical agility to jointly meet your Northstar objective. Here is the harsh reality: the only ones who can decide whether your Northstar objective is valuable are customers. They do so at their leisure, not at yours, not at your investors’, not at your employees’. Of course, you can always have a cunning plan.
The bottom line is that when you feel you require a CX strategy, it’s the last thing you need. What you do need at that point is a thorough revision of your master plan and make sure to include your primary customer. Plus, all the other things you may not ignore according to your paradigm.
Jef Teugels is the CEO of MarketCulture Europe. He assists entrepreneurs and organizational leaders in developing and realizing sustainable growth.
Blackadder Quotes, 2021. I Have A Cunning Plan – A History Of Cunning Plans In Blackadder. [online] Blackadder Quotes. Available at: <https://blackadderquotes.com/i-have-a-cunning-plan> [Accessed 24 January 2021].
Drucker, P.F., 2001. The Essential Drucker. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Hart, R., 2018. So What Is CX Strategy Anyway?. [online] Forrester. Available at: <https://go.forrester.com/blogs/so-what-is-cx-strategy-anyway/> [Accessed 24 January 2021].
Merriam-Webster, 2021. Definition Of STRATAGEM. [online] Merriam-webster.com. Available at: <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stratagem> [Accessed 24 January 2021].
Merriam-Webster, 2021. Definition Of STRATEGY. [online] Merriam-webster.com. Available at: <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/strategy> [Accessed 24 January 2021].
Simons, R., 2014. Choosing The Right Customer. [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: <https://hbr.org/2014/03/choosing-the-right-customer> [Accessed 24 January 2021].
[i] Primary customer: the select group of customers that unlock the most value for the business (Simons, 2014).
[ii] A stratagem is (1.a) a trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemy, (1.b) a cleverly contrived trick or scheme for gaining an end, or (2) a skill in ruses or trickery (Merriam-Webster, 2021, 2).