Take the Apple Store, for instance, where the customer experience is arguably as innovative and important as the products themselves. If it had the atmosphere of Curry’s, it might prove less appealing…

Why? This all stems from Steve Jobs himself, who once said that “you have to start with the customer experience and work backwards towards the technology”.

So, why is this method so effective when it comes to creating an effective CX strategy? Let’s discuss.

What does it mean?

The ‘working backwards’ method is defined by a focus on the customer need. Instead of starting with the technology, this means beginning with the benefits of the technology for the customers, and the problem it will solve in their lives.

Let’s take the new iPhone 8 as an example. While features like faster charging and a front-facing camera might sound impressive when described in terms of the technology used, the customer might still question why these features exist. However, when you start with the need – for instance, ‘I need a full battery quickly’ or ‘I want to take selfies more easily’ – the benefits immediately become more obvious, and the product sounds much more appealing.

Essentially, working backwards means that features or products will always hold intrinsic value to the customer, as they will be rooted in solving a specific and tangible problem.

How is it done?

So, is working backwards all that easy? Perhaps not, otherwise every company out there would offer a brilliant CX. Then again, it’s not all that difficult to implement when you take into consideration these key points.

Channel Oprah

Amazon is another example of a brand that works backwards, particularly when it comes to developing or updating new products. One part of its strategy is to first write an internal press release describing the end product, largely basing it around a specific customer problem. This ensures that throughout development, Amazon has something to constantly refer back to and improve upon.

One important element of the press release is that it is written in so-called ‘Oprah-speak’. Or in other words, a way that is easy to understand. This essentially allows Amazon to cut through tech-jargon and any descriptions that would only confuse the customer, in order to deliver a mainstream product.

Care less about the competition

Amazon also believes that “although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.” This is particularly pertinent when it comes to positioning a company within a certain market, as it can often be easy to focus on top-level features like low prices or flashy marketing in order to beat the competition.

Instead, as we can see from the likes of Amazon, the companies that position themselves as offering the best CX often tend to win out. Attributes like fast customer service, seamless interactions, and easy navigation all fall under this umbrella.

Dig into data 

When it comes to figuring out the customer need, data is an obvious but surprisingly underused resource. Research has found that 80% of companies’ data remains untouched. However this perhaps has more to do with issues relating to skills and barriers to technology than the recognition of its importance. 

For the biggest companies then, this naturally remains less of a problem, and it is through utilising this customer data that they are able to truly build on brand or product innovation.

What are the benefits?

It’s clear that the ‘working backwards’ approach can result in a superior CX, but let’s finish by delving deeper into this, and what it means overall.

It builds empathy

Brands that take a ‘working backwards’ approach to CX are often more empathetic than those who do not, with a far deeper understanding of the customer’s needs, as well as the contextual circumstances in which they interact with their product or service. 

In turn, this makes it far easier for the customer to feel affinity with a brand, and this can translate into better conversion rates and audience scale.

It effectively communicates the product

One of the most important lessons a writer or marketer can learn is to always show, not tell. This applies to product descriptions and general brand copy, but it’s also a vital point to remember when creating a CX strategy. 

If brands think about why a product is important as opposed to just what it is, they are then able to place themselves in the customers’ shoes. As a result, they will be in no doubt as to the benefits of the product or service in question.

It creates loyalty

A final benefit of a ‘working backwards’ approach is that it can ultimately increase loyalty and retention. By showing greater awareness of the customer’s needs and pain points, brands are able to create an emotional connection with an audience rather than a purely transactional or functional one.

So, instead of choosing a brand based on logic or functional need, customers might also do this because of a brand’s overall values or the greater sense of affinity they feel towards it.

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