Customer service complaints have been around for millennia—just take a look at this detailed inscription from 1750 BCE regarding copper ingots—but our response to them has shifted completely. While the merchant on the other end most likely had a good laugh over the irate message, today it would ring an alarm bell loud enough to get the C-suite’s attention.

However, many companies still haven’t managed to shift their operations to fully support the new attitudes and expectations for the modern customer experience. So, what’s the secret to consistently great experiences? It’s a whole company approach that prioritizes the customer experience at a granular level. That approach is grounded in four distinct areas: business outcomes, employee culture, data, and design.

Business Outcomes

What are your business’s primary goals? Can you measure them? If the answers to those questions are anything close to “hmm, well . . . give me a minute” and “possibly” you’ve already identified a major roadblock to exceptional customer experience. You need to shift your focus from the intangible goals that sound so good in soundbites to measuring your success against business outcomes: acquisition, retention, expansion, and cost reduction.

Without a clear roadmap to track your progress against, it’s impossible to create good experiences because there’s no consistency or guiding line for your internal and external operations. Every department needs to be in lockstep, and a business outcomes framework provides a unifying transparency that will promote better cross-collaboration and communication, ultimately creating better customer experiences.

Employee Culture

Your employee culture is the backbone of your organization. As Gallup frequently reminds us, employee engagement equals customer engagement, and “a customer who is fully engaged represents an average 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer.”

One of the biggest missteps that companies make is equating their brand identity with their employee culture. What they don’t realize is that their stated values and strategy aren’t necessarily supported by their employees, especially if employees feel that management doesn’t communicate or take their needs into account.

Business leaders need to remember that new initiatives that come from “on high” don’t translate well on the ground floor without clear guidelines, expectations, and an understanding of how the measures will positively impact employees. It’s why companies are increasing their focus on employee engagement; the best companies are ensuring that employees can do their jobs from anywhere, on any device, on any channel.


Far more than just a call center focus, customer experience encapsulates every moment that a customer or prospect sees, hears, thinks about, or interacts with a business. So companies must be mindful of their self-generated messages and also prepared to handle customer feedback from every social app and corner of the Internet.

This valuable customer data is every business’ greatest opportunity and biggest challenge. On the one hand, it’s a gold mine of information that can help your business shape and prioritize new products and services, and on the other, it’s a minefield where any misstep (read: lack of timely response to customer feedback) can create a huge, very public backlash.

Build your data strategy from your particular business outcomes. Use those goals to identify problem areas and opportunities, and then seek out the proper business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools that will best help you achieve them. Your ultimate goal is to know what your customers want before they do and then to exceed those expectations.


Design is your engagement hook. Think about your favorite applications and why you like them so much. What is it about the experience that keeps you coming back? The look and feel? Ease of use? The best products and services optimize both, designing not just the visual aspects, but the entire user experience.

Great design draws users in, engaging them without taking them out of the moment. Just imagine if Instagram required you to save and then upload files rather than being able to snap a photo in the app or choose one from your connected photo library. You’d never want to use it, because it wouldn’t be effortless to capture, perfectly filter, and share your favorite moments.

With that in mind, can you think of a product or service that your company offers that has clunky design and a difficult user experience? Get into your users’ shoes (employees, customers, and prospects) and evaluate your business from their perspective. From there, you’ll have a better understanding of how you can improve your design to provide better experiences and drive higher ROI.

Providing real customer value is at your fingertips. Business outcomes provide the framework. Data supplies the details and insight. Employee culture supports great customer experiences. Design is the vehicle to deliver those experiences. Use these steps to build a roadmap for innovative customer experiences and increase your business’s success.

This article first appeared on Eric Berridge’s LinkedIn Pulse.