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You Say You Have a Customer Experience Strategy?


I spend almost all of my time helping companies with their customer experience strategy. Operational Customer Experience Management (OCEM) takes strategy and embeds it into daily operations, making it come to life every day. Bear with me while I walk through strategy, and then give you a simple and powerful pathway to delivering on your customer experience strategy.

I believe the top minds on strategy are Richard Rumelt (UCLA Anderson School of Business), Michael Porter (Harvard) and Cynthia Montgomery (Harvard). All are accomplished authors and thought leaders with tight similarity in how they think and communicate strategy.

Rumelt: Strategy is problem solving.

Porter: Strategy is differentiation.

Montgomery: Strategy is your system of advantage.

Combined: Strategy is your system of advantage that solves a problem for your customer in a way that is materially different than your competitors.

Your customer experience strategy needs to live within your overall strategy.

The heavy lifting in strategy is making it come to life throughout your organization and not to let it just become a marketing message.

Tying it all together looks something like this: What problem am I solving? Make exercise a habit for the many not the few. 

This is a HARD problem to solve and therefore it is worth a lot more money if you can do it. An important note on this — if you are simply attracting people that already have an exercise habit then you are not solving this problem. So don’t give yourself credit.

What key elements need to come together in a cohesive way to solve this problem? Plant and equipment, exercise programming, marketing, human systems (position descriptions, compensation etc.), staff training and development, member-facing processes, policy design, customer engagement technology.

This may or may not be all the areas that combine into a system of advantage.   But it only becomes a system if you assertively guide each of these areas based on the stated problem to solve – build exercise habits. You must design every aspect of your system to solve the problem.

How will we do it different and better? By identifying a hard problem to solve and by building a system to solve that problem I have already differentiated. But to be materially different, I need to put the customer at the center of these decisions. I need to understand my business through the members’ eyes and quickly adjust and innovate around the feedback and align with the strategy.

Man that’s a lot of work. Yep. That is differentiation. It is always hard work. If it wasn’t hard work, then what you may have is a temporary competitive advantage, not differentiation. Differentiation is hard to pull off and extremely hard to duplicate, but is do-able as part of your overall strategy.

The way to get started is by committing to putting the customer at the center of your decision-making. Done right and done with a growth-mindset, differentiation becomes the forcing function behind a true customer experience strategy.


It’s fair to say that Blair McHaney is obsessed with how companies build loyalty. Through years of consulting and 34 years of ground-level operational experience, McHaney understands how companies execute on loyalty strategies. He is currently president of ClubWorks, Medallia’s partner specializing in Operational Customer Experience Management for the fitness industry. For more information email blair@medallia.com, visit www.mxmetrics.com or call 509-630-7307.

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