This is the era of the Customer Experience Centre (CEC). The workplace is changing, and with this change comes opportunity for those who can adapt.

Traditional ways of working are being replaced with new, digitally powered, more collaborative ones. Those who can embrace and leverage the technology that digital brings can gain significant advantage over their competitors. Not just in how they provide goods or services but how and where they engage with them in the first place.

Sales conversations with customers are more dynamic and demanding than ever and a meaningful dialogue requires a more complex set of stimuli delivered in more meaningful ways, and in more inspiring environments. Embodying the brand, the customer experience centre is more than just a showcase for products and services. A place to explain, explore and expand your brand with your clients, potential clients and influencers, the customer experience centre works on a number of levels. The following is a ten step process to creating a great CEC.

1. Who is your customer experience centre audience? 

It all goes back to the customer – understand the audience you are identifying as relevant to your customer experience centre. 

Get to know your external stakeholders

By external stakeholders I mean prospects and clients generally. Here is the list of people you should consider when creating you CEC. You should know how to lead communication with customers. 

  • Researchers: People who are comparison shopping. 
  • Deciders: People who have come to purchase or sign up.
  • Enthusiasts: People who are interested in your business.
  • Persuaders: People influencing others to support their purchase.
  • Professional sceptics: Procurement specialists, third party advisors, journalists, technologists.
  • Owners: Existing customers, people who have come for issue resolution or new product offerings.
  • Visionaries: Experts, futurologists.
  • Partners: Suppliers and partners in your network.
  • Important and influential visitors: MPs, government agencies, industry bodies.

Internal stakeholders

Internal stakeholders are people witin your organizations you should establish strong and meaningful relationships with.

  • Sales teams
  • Employees
  • New recruits
  • Senior leaders

2. Define what you want your audience to get from the visit

an image showing a young female person doing a research about customer experience centre.

Mapping out what you want your visitor to hear, see and experience helps you visualise what it might be like to be in the CEC. If you can apply this practice to the majority of the customer types who may be coming through the space you can create a much more memorable day for them.

We break the audience down into paddler, swimmer and diver. It goes like this – for paddlers, a visit to the CEC may be an opportunity to:

  • Assess and give the nod of approval for others to visit or have a strategic light touch overview of what the centre has to offer.
  • Swimmers maybe interested in a particular area of business or a challenge they may be facing within their business.
  • Divers are there to really interrogate the product or solution – to get under the hood and ask detailed questions.

In addition, map out what you want to hear, see and experience – what do you want to get from your customer? What are the desired outcomes from their visit?

3.Work your way back from the win

Ask yourself: what is the point at which the customer say yes, I like that?

“How does that help me?”

“Well that’s interesting,”

“Now I’m here and you’ve given me coffee and a Danish, what are you going to do to make it worth my while?”

“Ok I’ll come to the CEC?”

“Why should I come to the CEC?”

Map out the answers on a piece of paper and imagine the conversations and activities that might have taken place to enable each outcome.

4. Define the journey types

Define the journey types that will apply to different audience members and what their purpose of visiting your customer experience centre is. Different customer types expect different outcomes and require different dialogues and activities – by being prepared with the right journey you can ensure that the customer has a meaningful visit.

Example journeys include:

Targeted transactional: you know your guest well and know what you want to sell to them

Collaborative: discovering and tailoring solutions together (workshop/demo/tailor/plan)

Explorative: looking at their pains and your existing solutions that might match (workshop/demo)

Foundational: explaining your offer, your company and solutions (discuss/demo/support)

New opportunities: existing customer, trying to upsell/cross-sell

Fact finding: you want to find out more about their needs to seek opportunity (explorative)

Showcase: you have specific new products/services to sell (collaborative/transactional

5. Design your customer experience centre strategy

an image showing people discussing about customer experience centrePlan out the day like a storyboard.

Visualising the customer journey provides a reference point. This can be a visible reference guide for customers or hosts within the CEC itself, a communication tool for sales and marketing teams delivering the journeys and a stakeholder engagement tool to be used internally for journey sign off. 

Work out every step of the journey and at each step plan out:

  • What you want to say?
  • What you want them to do?
  • How you want them to feel?
  • What tools you will use? 

For instance:

  • How do you invite them? – What makes the invite different – how do you tempt them?
  • What happens in the lead up to the day? (send them useful insights)
  • Create a microsite to handle the invite, from insights to concierge and follow up.
  • How do they arrive at your CEC? What makes it special? A VIP experience?
  • How do they find you? Where do they park?
  • How do yo get them to decompress? Switch off their phones, stop answering emails?
  • How do you get their attention? 
  • How do you introduce your company and how do you set agenda for the day?
  • Ask the customer what they expect to get from the day.
  • What stories do you tell and what technology do you use to help tell it?

Moreover, in a collaborative customer journey:

Be a thought leader: share with them your vision of the future.

You don’t have to know everything about your customers business but you do need to know their environment, be ready with insights and perspectives and observations that may be useful to them. Don’t be afraid to ask challenging questions or share challenging insights.  Provide real insight instead of just skimming content. But be prepared with where you are going to take it.

Here’s some for starters…

It’s 2020 and your company has closed down. What does the company look like that put you out of business? Here is the secon case:  Its 2020 and your company has just bought out its biggest rival, what did the company do to make this happen?

  • Select two things that your biggest competitor does better than you.
  • Select two things that you do better than your competitor.
  • Take them on a journey.
  • Disrupt them.
  • Help them explore and discover.
  • Help them take a long hard look at themselves.
  • Help them ideate – use what they have learned and look at ways they could apply it to their business.
  • Help them plan – help them map out a vision of what they could do achieve using your solutions or products.

6. Audit your assets

Make sure that everything you are going to use to help your conversations is up to date, on brand, easy to understand and insightful. If it’s not, change it.

  • Create
  • Repurpose, make fit for purpose.
  • Refine/Iterate

7. Choose your technology wisely

Before you invest in hardware, consider what you are going to use it for.

If you have a large format touch screen make sure that you have the assets to show on it. And, if you want to make a real impact, make sure you have the right software in place to do more than just show a PowerPoint slide.

Don’t spend a lot of money on something that you can’t change easily without a high cost. At Platform we have designed Co:Lab, a suite of applications designed specifically for use in CECs.

8. Design the space for the CX centre

When building the CEC make sure the journey designs are complete and tested. By doing so you can ensure that interactions happen how, when and where in the space you want them to and customers find it a natural, flow from one experience to the next.

9. Encourage active learning

Once you have your customer journeys designed, ensure you have experienced trainers to role play with your sales teams. Get them to become competent with the journeys, the messages, the activities, and the software and get this really embedded before teams start to free form.

10. Follow up

The CEC takes a much larger role in the sales cycle than one visit – it’s an integral part of the early stages of customer relationships as well as a university, hub, workshop, repository.  Well managed, a Customer Experience Centre becomes a powerful conversion tool at every stage of the customer engagement cycle.

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