Which comes first, we’re often asked by larger clients, the customer experience strategy or the value proposition development? My experience tells me that it doesn’t matter so long as two things are done.

Firstly, there must be senior management engagement and a willingness to make business changes, if the research indicates it’s necessary. There’s no point going into a programme and only being prepared to half implement the outcomes (depending on the business case, which is an essential early step in getting senior engagement).

Secondly, the starting point must be based on rigorous internal and customer experience research. The research must ‘set up’ the strategy so needs to be qualitative (the quantitative comes later) with an emphasis on the behavioural and psychological drivers of customers and stakeholders. For more on this see our Customer experience research page.

So how does customer experience work fit with value propositions?

The definition of customer experience (from Wikipedia) is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. From awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. Now for most organisations, this is a huge ocean to boil, therefore it’s often easier to start with value proposition development in one or two markets or business areas first, and then work towards a total customer experience strategy.

Value propositions are the crucial ‘what’ of customer experience strategy and management. The customer value proposition is where you decide what you are going to deliver to your customers in terms of tangibles – products, services, offerings – AND, more importantly, the intangibles – what experiences do you want your customers to have from your offerings, how will you behave with them and how you would like them to respond.

Here are the typical stages involved in a customer experience programme:

  1. 1. Business case for change
  2. 2. Sponsorship, governance and behavioural change
  3. 3. Value propositions
  4. 4. Operational blueprint
  5. 5. Roadmap and implementation

A matter of altitude

Depending on your perspective and the context, customer experience (when called user experience) is used to mean an individual experience over one transaction. Similarly, we make the distinction between the ‘total value proposition’ for an entire organisation or a market or business unit, and then the ‘sales proposition’, which is what the salesperson delivers to a particular customer.

So now you have a choice of two ways to continue the journey towards being a truly customer-centric company – either by tackling your customer experience strategy in its entirety or by starting with a discrete value proposition. What have you done first and what has worked for you?