I recently acted as Chairperson of the judging panel for the Gulf Customer Experience Awards and found it incredibly inspiring to see so many different types and sizes of businesses taking Customer Experience to a whole new level.

When we talk about Customer Experience we are talking about a customer’s entire interaction with our business, from the initial contact stage right through to the end of the sales/support process and how they reflect on the product or service they received. To stand out and achieve success in today’s highly competitive market, putting Customer Experience at the heart of your philosophy and strategy is an absolute must.

UAS is a global trip support solutions provider, trusted by heads of state, VVIPs, Fortune Global 500 companies, and business jet operators worldwide. It is internationally recognised as a global market leader in the provision of trip support, executive travel, air charter, and technology solutions with four continental headquarters, four regional offices, and ground presence in a total of 23 international locations.

To maintain and expand on our global footprint, delivering an amazing Customer Experience is central to our offering. Customer Experience is not simply referring to customer service – though customer service is a part of it. It is the entire journey of the business relationship from their viewpoint, and it’s crucial to create an amazing one if we want customers to become loyal to us.

The best way to begin is by creating an effective Customer Experience Strategy. This will vary from business to business, industry to industry, but there are certain elements that are foundational.

Firstly, it’s important to develop a clear Customer Experience vision. Your entire organisation must first understand your vision of the type of CX you can offer. This is best achieved by having clear and powerful guiding principles that define your vision at every stage of the business process.

When these are embedded in your organisation’s culture as well as training and development, they will drive employee behaviour. The next step is to get to know your customers on an emotional level: you must know the needs of your customers better than anyone else.

Listen to them and empathise with their concerns and pain points; if you cannot imagine the challenges they face, how can you mitigate them? You must make it personal. Not only will this vastly improve the quality of the solutions or products you offer, but it will also build an emotional connection with customers, and a true partnership can be born.

So, now you have a great connection with your customers accompanied by a clear vision for how you want their experience to be, it’s time to find out their thoughts. Find out how they feel about how they’re being treated, and what could be done better.

Ask them in person, get their feedback through surveys, over email, or through frequent calls. Gather and analyse their responses for all you need to know.

Also, keep an open mind and remember to get inspired by what others are doing – so long as you put your mark on it. Listening to the details of different methods to enhance customer experience, such as at the Gulf Customer Experience Awards, is a fantastic way to gain insight and inspiration from other businesses and industries and benchmark your organisation’s efforts against others.