You have a great brand, loyal customers, and you make decisions with them in mind. But, answer this: What are your guiding principles when it comes to customer service? Don’t be surprised if you can’t articulate it. Bain & Company found in a survey that 80 percent of companies believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers, but customers said that only 8 percent of companies were really delivering.

Why is this happening? Most organizations aren’t aligned on the importance of creating and integrating a customer experience strategy throughout the organization – even when they believe the customer experience is a critical element to their success.

Here’s a cheat sheet on what to do so you can ensure your customer experience strategy is alive and aligned across your entire organization.

  1. Get your leadership team aligned on the return on investment in creating a better customer experience. You need buy-in from your decision-makers on the customer experience concept and the importance of the strategy you’re envisioning, as well as the culture and behaviors your organization needs to embrace and model in order to deliver it. If you create alignment and support at the top – particularly because they recognize returns it will deliver to your business – you’ll have the opportunity to make important changes to your customer experience.
  2. Engage your people in the strategy. Your frontline employees are more familiar with your customers than anyone else. Tap into their knowledge. Factor their thoughts and opinions into the process. Hold test groups and trials. That’s how you establish the advocacy you need to make change stick.
  3. Focus on the unmet needs. What do you know about your customers? What do you not know? Figure out what you want to be and then do your research (or study data that you probably already have on hand). You’ll soon discover your “special customer experience sauce” and deliver something that sets you apart.
  4. Let your People be Authentic. Let’s be honest, scripts suck. Establishing and delivering an outstanding customer experience isn’t about reciting a monologue. Get your people on board from the get-go (see tip number 3 above) and engage them in the strategy in a way that resonates with them. Teach them to consider what the customer experience means to each person they interact with and how to make it personal for that customer. Role-playing, virtual trainings, or other modern techniques like visuals, games, and video can help make it real for all frontline employees.
  5. Create a business of customer experience fanatics. The only way to transform your customer experience into something special is to embed it into all aspects and at all levels of your organization – from the leadership to the front line. It can’t stand alone; it needs to be part of the whole picture that everyone can embrace.
  6. Give customer experience a seat at the table. Your customer experience leaders need to have a place at the strategy table, alongside and aligned with the rest of your key decision-makers. Without it, customer experience has no chance of being integrated into the culture of your business. And that’s where it belongs – right smack in the middle with your brand’s personality and core values.

The customer experience you’re delivering means everything to your business. And even if your people are committed, passionate, and good at their jobs, there’s always room for improvement. These six tips are valuable reminders on how alignment and frontline expertise can make or break your customer experience strategy.