There is broad consensus that we are at the dawn of the Experience Economy. But, what does that mean exactly for your business? In a word, everything.
A customer’s experience (CX) with a brand is inseparable from the value of the goods and services it provides. Mobile technology has put tremendous power in the hands of customers, turning the traditional top-down information flow on its head. At first when mobile turned things upside down, teams continued to execute outdated linear journeys while customers were already ahead of the curve and expected multichannel and nonlinear journeys. Ever-increasing expectations have turned customers into innovators who hunt down solutions to their needs and wants from innumerable sources.
Successful enterprises are the ones that anticipate those needs and provide the precise solution customers seek. To get ahead of the game and become the disruptors—not the disrupted—organizations must have a strategic discussion that revolves around one key question: "How is focusing on customer experience going to fundamentally change everything we do?"
This question funnels into a deeper conversation that will guide your comprehensive experience strategy—something that is critical to surviving and thriving in this new economy.
Get and Stay Ahead with a CX Strategy
Based on my research, most companies lack a strategy around customer experience. They might have 20 different initiatives, but these don’t necessarily roll up into a unified strategy. To create such a strategy, you should ask yourself three sets of questions:
1. Who is our future customer? Do we have a clear idea of our customer’s future needs and wants? Do we know how they think and feel? Peeling back the layers requires research: tracking customer journeys, gathering the voice of the customer (VoC), creating empathy maps, leveraging customer advisory boards, etc. This ultimately comes with a high degree of uncertainty. When I pose this question to people, they hesitate to respond, because they don’t want to be wrong. But the thing is, you don't have to be right! You just need a starting point—an educated guess—in order to evaluate whether your hypothesis right or wrong.
2. What kind of experience will we create for them? The specifics of your answer to this question will depend on numerous factors—not least of which is the answer to question one. There are a few criteria you must strive to meet. Consumers expect the buying experience to be highly personalized and will anticipate their needs. It must also be simple to navigate and allow for natural interaction (whether with a human being or an AI-powered bot). Brands must gather data and intelligence at every interaction and know their users intimately—not only what they want, but also how to reach them with the right messages at the right time on the right channel.
3. What are we investing in to make this experience possible? This is the tactical question. The tools and resources companies need to execute on creating a great customer experience might already be in-house, but I bet not all of them are. What additional resources and capabilities will you need? What can you do today to make that experience a reality tomorrow? But remember that unless that tactic is linked to a clear strategy, it’s unlikely that anything you do today will be fully effective.
Technology Plays a Starring Role
The last question raises the issue of technology. Every day, it seems, a new technology arises that companies must rush to embrace in order to reach their customers. But what I have seen when it comes to innovation in user experience, disruption is not about creating new technology from scratch. It’s about changing the relationship you have with your customer. To put it differently, it’s about using the available technology as a tool to shift that relationship and provide a new, better experience. Consider that some of the most-cited disruptors—Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon—didn't utilize revolutionary new technology. What they did was leverage available technology to revolutionize the customer experience.
There are, nonetheless, capabilities that your technology must provide. The new model of information flow puts customers in control of the learning and purchasing path, so you need technology suited to that model. Your CX technology must engage at scale while still offering individual customers a natural, personalized experience on every channel, now, and in the future. It should support commerce everywhere, because in the Experience Economy, consumer interactions are increasingly pageless and occur within apps, social media, and in the car as easily as at home and on any device.
To craft extraordinary experiences, your technology should also leverage AI to mine data for customer insights. It should use those insights to recognize and cater to the likes and dislikes of each individual without sacrificing speed or quality. It should support the entire customer experience from marketing to sales to service.
The arrival of the Experience Economy, like any seismic change, is filled with opportunities as well as risks, with the rewards typically going to the bold. By placing CX at the center of your strategic efforts, you can transform your organization into a nimble, even disruptive competitive force!
The Oracle CX Cloud Suite is an integrated set of applications that span the entire customer lifecycle. To learn more about how Oracle CX Cloud can provide the seamless, personalized, and immediate experiences your customers expect, visit https://www.oracle.com/applications/customer-experience/platform/cx-unity.html.