Evolved companies aren’t customer-centric. They’re customer experience-centric.

No matter who their customers are, these companies understand they are in the business of experience and they design their business models explicitly to compete on experience innovation. Amazon may have set the pace, but across every industry–from Lemonade in insurance to Coupa in procurement software to Veeva in pharmaceutical salesforce automation–companies are changing, and customers are responding.

Of course, everyone knows customer experience is important, and these days, it’s a mandate in every boardroom. Business leaders are realizing that memorable and engaging experiences aren’t just the key to growth, they’re the currency of the future.

But very few are doing it well. Spending money on experience and making it work are two different things. And as consumer expectations continue to rise, it’s harder for those offering merely ordinary experiences to catch up.

Challenges of Delivering Seamless Customer Experiences

While many companies are solving experience problems in blended digital and physical environments that delight customers in new ways, that complexity is challenging. Companies are scrambling to keep experiences consistent and on message across channels, markets and lines of business. And while messaging was once clearly under the control of marketing, the responsibility for experience, which now requires help from many disciplines, is diffuse, owned and driven by different departments.

Consumers, of course, don’t care about how complex or hard it is to deliver a stellar experience. They just know a few of their favorite brands that make it work every time, solving their problems and offering consistent ease of use—and the ones that fall short.

Exceptional experiences can only come from those using a holistic approach. Organizations must make philosophical and structural changes to truly be in the “business of experience.”
As many of those who have tried it know engaging contextual experiences don’t invent themselves. It takes a thoughtful reconsideration of the way employees collaborate with each other, capture data, set priorities, make decisions and measure success.

5 Fundamental Customer Experience Shifts Companies Need to Make

1. Experience for Its Own Sake to Bottom-Line Outcomes

Designing a magical, frictionless experience for its own sake is pointless. As companies get into the business of experience, they understand that the real objective is business impact, such as boosting revenue or increasing customer lifetime value. Clear business goals must precede design. Prophet partnered with an international life insurance company to build a CX playbook rooted in measurable business outcomes. After launching several rapid pilots—and seeing real impact in conversion rates—the organization rallied around this new way of operating. The proof was in the metrics.

2. Brand Engagement to True Customer Obsession

Instead of thinking about customers at each touchpoint, genuinely understanding them calls for a much bigger picture. What worries them? What are their tensions? Their hopes? This holistic picture is essential and sometimes leads to big (and uncomfortable) realizations, such as the need to change the business model. This is how disrupters such as Casper, Lyft and Netflix have been able to become such disruptive forces in (and beyond) their industries; they became obsessed with unmet customer needs in their lives—not just how those customers interacted with brands.

3. Brand as a Passive Voice in Experience to Experience Paying Off the Brand Promise

Branding is no longer just an element of experience; it has to drive it. The best experiences envelop customers, proving the brand’s value by offering something deeply personal. And conversely, poor–or even average–experiences undo that promise. After all, customers value brands more for the experiences they create than the promises they make.

4. Fragmented Touchpoints to Pervasive Digital-Powered Execution

In a world where customers leave digital breadcrumbs everywhere, running a business of separate islands —advertising here, instore experience there– no longer works. Consumers have high expectations of consistency. When a furniture retailer asked us to reimagine its omnichannel experience, we put ourselves in the shoes of consumers, recognizing that the customer bounces back and forth between in-store and online constantly. We designed digital and retail touchpoints offering customers a consistent and personalized experience at every step of their buying journey.

5. Ad-Hoc Change Efforts to Change with Accountability

Initially, baby steps are required. But there soon needs to be a greater commitment, changing the way companies operate and collaborate. It calls for drafting the right technology roadmap and connecting decision-making to the best data. Moving along this curve requires conscious and vocal commitment from leadership.

Experience = The Face of Business Strategy

Experience is where the brand promise is either paid off or destroyed. At the same time, it is a way of building value that competitors can’t easily copy. The brand is the anchor that drives experience design, putting something in the marketplace that leaves an indelible impression in the mind of the customer.

Evolved enterprises understand that they are, at heart, experience-driven. They know the key ingredients are more than what the customer sees, and also take into account brand and operational models. And they strive to have these components work together, all reorienting the company to be in the business of experience.

Learn how Prophet can help your company become the customer-experience driven enterprise that it needs to be.

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