What lies beyond customer experience: The business of experience

There’s a reason why we are always told first impressions mean everything. When we look back on any life event or interaction, whether it’s with a person or brand, the overall experience and feeling we were left with remains top of mind – hence every industry’s emphasis on revolutionizing the customer experience (CX).

Over the years, optimized touch points and a memorable experience have become base-level expectations, rather than nice-to-haves. Now, magnified by our traditional routines and needs being turned on their head due to the pandemic, businesses are facing an experience renaissance. CX is moving beyond the basics, and the role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), to a game-changing, profit-driving responsibility carried by the entire C-suite.

Discover the Business of Experience (BX) – a more holistic approach to developing experiences that respond to customers’ often unmet and frequently changing needs. Savvy CEOs and their leadership teams are already using this new category of leadership to boost business – and to no small feat. Organizations that embraced and reoriented practices defined as mission critical for BX are outperforming their CX-oriented counterparts in year-on-year profitability growth by at least 6x in the past one, three, five and seven years, according to Accenture’s latest research.

How to navigate BX – and why now?

Pandemic-aside, there have been several looming factors accelerating the need to reshape CX. With every company offering their own version of simple, fast, clear and intuitive experiences, and consumers comparing those experiences to offerings from every business – not just from within the same sector – businesses need to work smarter (and harder) to break through the “sea of sameness.” Underscoring BX’s potential is the finding that 85% of elite brands’ CX scores currently remain stagnant, while BX-focused brands are getting ahead and not looking back.

There is also great demand for companies to stand for something greater than the products and services they sell. Gen Y and Z are leading a movement to shine the spotlight on responsible businesses, with 8 in 10 consumers saying purpose is at least as important to them as CX.

Moving forward, companies ready to provide exceptional experiences with extraordinary value for customers should follow four winning ways that will guide the transition from pandemic recovery mode to a remarkable growth stage.

1. Obsess about customer needs—and use that as your compass.

To incentivize loyal customer relationships, businesses should adopt the broadest view possible for gathering consumer insights, looking at the rich context that truly informs their lives and choices. As companies continue to shift from championing CX to BX, our research found 77% of CEOs plan to explore new ways of engaging and interacting with customers. Every function of the business will be able to benefit from a mix of quantitative and qualitative data analysis to understand and predict what customers are likely to do, and why, based on their needs in different situations.

Uncovering – and satisfying – underserved needs aligned to the organization’s purpose is the key to making the most of the brand experience. And if a customer tells a company exactly what they want, it’s always in that company’s best interest to listen, and respond, accordingly. After 62% of Canadians surveyed indicated updating their financial plan was a personal priority during the pandemic, Scotiabank launched Advice+, an online hub offering self-serve financial advice or personalized plans, depending on their needs.

2. Make experience innovation an everyday habit.

A true experience innovation culture asks companies to close the gap between the brand promise and the experiences they deliver by rethinking the starting point for innovation as anchored to human needs. More than half of leading companies (53%) say their customers expect them to continuously innovate with more relevant products, services and experiences to meet their needs at any given moment, versus just 31% of their industry peers.

The end goal should be to have innovations converge in coherent and mutually reinforcing ways that create unique value-adds for every experience. Accenture recently helped CMHC implement a new CRM platform (available in French only) that allows the national housing agency to be more responsive to a client who inquires about one product but can actually be better served through another product.

3. Expand the experience remit across your organization.

Companies can say goodbye to siloes once and for all. For BX to work, organizations must flip their focus from engaging customers at individual touch points to rethinking the full journey ahead. Experience needs to be everyone’s business – from the front office sales and development teams, to the HR and supply chain executives filling the back office. Streaming giant Netflix has famously transformed its entire company to own the experience around programming and how we watch it at home, forever changing the business of home entertainment – something that exploded this year amid stay-at-home orders related to COVID-19.

For additional context, compare a CX versus BX mindset – marketing leaders can move from making people want things (CX), to making things people want (BX). The 69% of leading companies who cite their innovation organization as being set up this way will be first in line to drive growth and benefit from new business opportunities for streamlined data pools and budgets.

4. Sync the tech, data and human agendas.

Becoming a business of experience is not about investing more; it’s about investing differently – and giving customers exactly what they desire without trading profitability or sustainability. To advance their progress, 61% of leading companies have figured out the best technology platforms to leverage in order to remain relevant with customers and competitive in the market. Companies should strive for agile technology infrastructure with cloud as the foundation to enable cost savings and link people and data together in newer, faster and more creative ways.

Showcasing the power of a refreshed operating model – and of tech, data and human agendas being carried out in tandem – Accenture worked with Microsoft and French grocer Intermarché to create centralized “data factories” to target individual customers’ desires and needs, and deliver operational and business efficiencies while increasing consumer value.

Over the years, BX will become a vital engine for long-term disruption, differentiation and customer satisfaction – even as uncertainty continues to consume our lives. Don’t miss out on experiencing this momentous shift.

About the author
Claude Chaffiotte is a Managing Director at Accenture Interactive where he currently leads growth and the Communicate pillar for the Quebec Market. Claude previously led Accenture Interactive in France and Benelux where he was also in charge of the acquisition program.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. As a result, the Chamber cannot be held responsible for published content.

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