In its most basic definition, Customer Experience (CX) strategy shapes and defines the way a brand interacts with its customers throughout their purchasing journey. Every touchpoint, every curated experience is another opportunity for brands to create lasting impressions and relationships with its end customers. Memorable touchpoints and impactful experiences ultimately enable brands to gain the one thing they want most from their customers: loyalty. 

Taking a customer-centric approach to CX strategy usually means that, to design the best experiences for the customer, a strategist requires an understanding of expectations from those customers—both stated and implicit. And customer expectations can differ vastly based on a variety of factors, like age, education, income, motivations and behaviors. CX strategists begin to define, create and transform a brand’s ecosystem of experiences through customer personas that are largely created by other strategy disciplines. 

But to truly design experiences that resonate with customers across geographies, cultures, and languages, there is an inclusion opportunity inherent within CX strategy. Designing relevant customer-centric brand experiences with inclusion goes beyond stated expectations. It means examining the nuanced cultural, racial, ethnic, and identity beliefs of customers whose marginalization by mainstream society has often led these customers to quieting their voices and shying away from advocating for their internal expectations. To make these audiences feel seen, uniquely heard and understood, CX strategy has the opportunity to go deeper with branded touchpoints and work to overturn unconscious hesitation and build customer relationships with brands where there weren’t ones before. 

This might seem overwhelming for CX strategists and brands alike. Retracting away from diverse conversations may feel easier—not because there isn’t perceived value in inclusion, but because there is more of a focus on the theoretical work to achieve inclusion instead of the priceless impact it can have. But inclusion opportunities can be met with CX strategy more easily than imagined. 

As an example, let’s look at building a customer-centric experience around helping U.S. women make informed treatment choices in breast cancer. Breast cancer is a pervasive disease that impacts roughly 13% of the population (1 in 8 U.S. women). 

In the U.S., women of all races are at risk of breast cancer at relatively similar rates. But as CX strategy is shaped, thinking about relationships between a brand and distinct audiences of women may quickly get overwhelming. Hence the inclusion opportunity is easily neglected, not fully explored or leveraged for many brands. Branded experiences then quickly lose relevance to those communities (e.g., South Asian, Black, Hispanic, American Indian, etc.) where breast cancer has as much of an impact as mainstream communities but where customer expectations are not met due to brand overwhelm. 

Ignoring inclusion opportunities undercuts the reality of cultural, racial and ethnic influence that impacts healthcare decisions for women experiencing breast cancer and even more importantly, healthcare conversations. 

By designing CX strategy with cultural, ethnic and racial (and more) identities in mind, we might discover that, to overcome healthcare barriers, CX simply needs to ensure more frequent touchpoints to drive broader awareness of a treatment opportunity. Or that adding a KOL that represents a particular group of women tends drive greater trust for consideration of a treatment. Perhaps highlighting “the right questions to ask” within a resource could help people of multiple backgrounds overcome cultural deference to healthcare experts. The inclusion opportunity within CX strategy exists to unite us all and build credibility within healthcare. 

So rather than ignoring the inclusion opportunity embedded within strategy for brands, let’s embrace it. It is only through the acknowledgement of culture and diversity that true inclusion can be felt and experiences are made relevant across customer groups. 

About the Author:

As the VP of Customer Experience Strategy for GSW LA, Farah uses her 12 years of experience in Marketing Strategy with a focus on product launches to lead the strategic engagement planning for multiple healthcare brands. As the Co-Head of RISE, Global Diversity & Belonging Strategy, Farah consistently seeks to break the status quo and drive connections between physicians, patients, and the unseen influencers of healthcare, designing solutions with health equity in mind. A Washington D.C. native and former attorney, Farah also has helped shape policy and communications when she has worked for the White House, Capitol Hill, British Parliament, and the United Nations.