Experience is back under the spotlights as businesses are starting their digital transformation. In this context, believing that giving marketing a revamp and improve the in-store atmosphere would be a big mistake. But it’s tempting to focus on these two points and overlook the essential part of the scheme, the one that turns experience into more than a front policy, a new layer and makes the entire company think “experience by design”.
Becoming an experience company has many impacts, at various levels, and businesses must be aware of that before starting what they often consider as one more marketing tactic.
Earlier this year we could read in the Harvard Business review that “marketing is dead, loyalty killed it“. To which Manuel Diaz replied that experience, not loyalty, killed marketing [post in french], loyalty being a consequence of a great experience. But, as some responded, experience is a part of marketing.
My opinion is that there is a huge gap between using experience as a marketing tactics and positioning a business in the experience economy, which requires to consider experience as a strategic priority, an organizational model that leads to an “experience by design” company instead of “experience at the end of the process”.
That’s what’s at stake with digital transformation since its strongly tied to the notion of experience : level up a discipline from being a tactic to being a strategy that impacts the entire organization.
2°) Customer relationship management
One can’t manage what he does not understand and businesses must learn to know their customers better before they manage them. Today we have technologies that help to make decision not on what we think the customer wants but on what he actually wants. Don’t forget that the starting point of a successful experience is not to convince customers that a given product is good but that it solves an actual problem. No one can manage a relationship with someone he does not know.
3°) Human resources
There is no customer experience without employee experience. The latter must be inspiring, meaningful, purposeful and make employees experience what we want them to give to customers, make them think “experience first” or “experience by design”. I’m talking about employee experience in the broad sense, encompassing all the dimensions of work, all the touchpoints between the employee and the enterprise.
I won’t elaborate on the “experience design” I’ve already mentioned there. Globally speaking, an “experience company” applies this approach to everything it designs, from products to HR processes, based on a defined experience platform that aims at aligning external and internal facing initiatives.
There are chances that the way you’re measuring things today will become, if not irrelevant, at least incomplete in a near future. We can already see it happening, for instance in a not that far field, businesses are realizing that the old employee satisfaction surveys were not doing the job anymore and try to find ways to measure engagement and identify engagement factors at the individual level to directly impact operational performance.
On the customer side new indicators will also be needed as well as new ways to articulate the existing ones together. Sales performance at a given moment will still be a major indicator but it could be better to complete it with an NPS or Brand Experience Score to know if it’s fragile or sustainable over time. Will you need to reconquer the customer, starting from scratch every time or will he come back by himself (impact on the marketing budget). To what extent the way experience is valued allows to raises prices ?
In addition to intermediate and end indicators there will be a lot of correlation to find between founding elements of a brand/employee experience and business indicators.
Customer/employee experience is not something fixed but changes over time. It must evolve as customer needs and expectations evolve. So it should be managed through a process similar to quality management ones, like PDCA.
Which means that it should be managed by a dedicated team and that’s why we see more and more Chief Customer Officers or even Chief Experience officers (besides or reporting to the chief digital officer). This team is in charge of
– defining experience standards, an experience platform.
– building design methodologies and make them adopted
– establishing quality norms, the experience schemes and enforce them.
– build an ongoing improvement scheme
And, before all, drive the cultural change towards an employee and customer focused one.
That’s all. This is what is required to make experience become not a tactic but a corporate strategy which value is known and undisputable.