How to assess an experience-based business model

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After having stressed the importance of experience on digital business models and tried to build a definition of what experience is in this context, this post is about defining what at the characteristics, the criteria upon which to assess an experience. Starting with the assumption that we can’t manage what we can’t measure, it’s important to have main lanes, landmarks allowing to say “have we handled this point” and “we’re are we now ?”.

As I always mentioned it’s not about customer experience but overall experience. Building a strategy based on experience and dealing with the customer side only means misaligning most of the organization with its strategy and that’s not good.

In the same way, I won’t focus on digital experience. If digital brought experience back at the center of the stage, experience should not be digital only to not be seen as unachieved, incoherent and, in the end, deceptive.

You’ll find lots of posts about this on the web. This one is nothing but the state of my own thought so maybe you’ll get more insights by pecking here and there to build your own assessment framework.

So the criteria helping to assess, manage and build an experience are…

Non discrimination between channels, touch points and people

Experience should be the same whether people are online or in the physical world, whether they’re employees, partners, or customers.

Counter-example are numerous. No airline or rail company can deliver an exceptional online experience and be complicated and terrible onboard. A retail website should not offer a personalized shopping experience and treat the same customer as “Mr. Anybody” in a store. An employee should not face two different HR processes whether he is using the HR Intranet or directly call an HR person.

There must not be any difference based on people either. If your customers deserve their own experience, your employees must have its equivalent in the workplace too.

Authenticity

Experience is the confrontation of the promise and the reality. The promise depends on the ambition, the DNA, the history, the strategy etc. In short copying the another company’s experience, even if it’s not in your industry or even if it’s your biggest competitor is useless. It will look irrelevant, your employees will feel lost, sense will lack. It’s important to wonder who you are and how to convey your identity, values, ambition, through experience.

Your experience is you. Taking someone else’s experience looks like a screen door on a submarine.

Example : when the CEO of Mercedes USA says that his experience is his brand and that customer experience follows employee experience. I did not take time to wonder what a “Mercedes experience” should be but one thing is sure : if they adopt a low cost car manufacturer experience the whole system will collapse, if they copy their biggest competitor they will end with the wrong positioning and identity.

Coherence and continuity throughout life cycles

Any stakeholder, employee, partner, customer as a life cycle in his relationship with the company. It started when they discover each other, then when they try to know each other, they they sign a formal or tacit contract and then they execute it. It may also include what happens once the contract ends.

How many employees did have an excellent candidate experience and felt like in hell once hired ? How many customers were seduced by the sales approach and disappointed by execution ? On the contrary I know companies that are bad at communicating and selling, offer a terrible “beforehand experience” while they excel in delivery. But few have the opportunity to realize it since they leave the life cycle early.

Individualization

Experience is not what any customer or employee lives : it’s the comparison between what a company makes them expect and what they get. Either in HR marketing or basic personal relationships, we’ve entered the age of “markets of one”. A customer is not defined anymore by his job, incomes, gender and an employee by his position and belonging to a department. Experience must not be built based on the lowest common denominator that exists among a group, a segment but, on the contrary, on what makes someone singular, the difference between what someone is compared to the lowest common denominator.

On the customer side it means taking into account the customer’s need and history at a given moment. On the employee side it’s understanding the professional context (past, current task, immediate needs in terms of execution and personal development) and personal side (personal context, long term projects, engagement levers).

 Operational nature

Experience is more than a posture, being nice, open. It’s not one more layer aiming at making acceptable or even nice a system that is not and can even be an experience killer. By the how, how can one deliver an experience worth the name if one does not have the means and does not experience it at work ?

Experience is not a corrective action put at the end of a chain to make it nicer but the result of a system including processes, skills, evaluations etc. That’s not only the way you’re perceived but the way you work.

Symmetry and balance

Once again : there’s no customer experience without employee experience. The balance matter. Investing in a world-class customer experience and overlooking employees leads to disengagement, demotivation and brings productivity down. On the contrary a world class employee experience (or perceived as such by the customer) that does not lead to a similar customer experience can make customers reject the company because they feel despised and even start criticizing employees they consider as divas, wasted…

As a service

Experience must deliver a service, not be a zero-sum game at any touchpoint. It may seem obvious but, either from an employee or customer perspective, how many interactions are lived as constraints and not as services ? A customer or employee relationship management model based on experience must aim at turning things seen as constraints into services and perceived opportunities. If it’s not possible, one must find a way to remove them. Remind Peter Drucker’s quote :

 

Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.

It’s valid whatever the category of people, customers, partners, employees one manages.

Another side : the servicization of objects. We often distinguish between products and services. Today any object can convey a service or embed the service (connected objects).

Cognitiveness

The cognitive dimension of experience is double-sided.

It must be the opportunity to know and understand. Know and understand the brand, the company, the employer, the colleague. It’s key to building and strengthening a relationship should it be brand, business or work one. It will make it easier to solve future problems : understanding others, the why of anything favors resilience and even helps to anticipate unexpected events.

It must also be recognizable. An experience – even a good one – people don’t perceive is not valued so it makes nothing to nobody. Neither say “congrats” nor “thanks”, no increased engagement or motivation. Years ago I read interview of a customer relationship manager saying that “people tend to value more a service when there’s been a problem that’s been solved than were there was no problem”.

I know companies which IT departments make miracle for end users, others where HR care a lot and where the “well-being” is impressive, others that offer to their customers a product “technically better” than the competitor’s. And yet no one perceives it and paradoxically, they’re even criticized by their customers or employees. If you deliver a wold-class experience nobody notices or if it’s noticed but no one puts it on you, the benefit can be awesome for others but won’t be  shared with the company. Sad.

And what about you ? Do you see other points ?

 

Crédit Image : Evaluation via Shutterstock