Experience

Customer Experience, Where It is Now, and Where It Will Go Next

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Leo Bertelli was gracious enough to invite me for an interview on the state and future of CX.  The conversation was so engrossing that I wanted to share it with you here. I hope it helps you!

What do you think have been the most significant advances in CX in previous years?

You can’t talk about customer experience if you don’t appreciate what the word experience means – and as the author of a book on experience design, I struggled a lot to find some satisfying definitions and build on them.

You look at all these experts wielding their CX wands, trying to inspire companies to change; most of them have never taken a step back and asked themselves: what does experience mean, what do customers actually experience and what do we want them to experience? These are the most important questions to start your conversation.

A person’s experience can be summarized in a series of moments – if you want to understand the entire experience you have to address every feeling that is expressed in a certain moment instead of looking at it as a whole. If these moments are left to chance the picture is distorted – that’s what I think we’re missing at the moment.

As an analyst, anthropologist and a human being, I think the best experiences in our lives are recorded as memories – and that’s what we like talking about.

The main challenges around CX can seem obvious at the moment — what do you think is the most under-acknowledged challenge that brands are facing?

What’s happening today is many brands are trying to either improve their moments or modernize them. That could be through mobile, chatbots, AI, even VR and AR.

We tend to associate these new features with good experiences – so we do our best to make them frictionless and delightful. But I think we need to understand the meaning of ‘experience’ before we start executing – I want people to feel the moments first, and then design the experience around them.

Last year I wrote a series of follow-on articles after publishing X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, which introduces the idea of an experience style guide. We already have brand style guides in place which tell you what a brand should look like, but as consumers become more demanding and discerning, we will have to consider brands as a sum of experiences.

For example, if you go to Disneyland, you’ll see the park is a manifestation of experience architecture. I‘ve never seen a purer form of CX before, from the trashcans and the concrete to the building facades, all the way to the uniforms in the park, everything is designed to evoke a profound emotional response.

But if you visit Disney.com, you lose that depth and design of imagineering. If you go into a Disney hotel it feels like you’re completely disconnected from that magical experience. It’s easy to realize that the people who designed the e-commerce experience aren’t the same as the ones who created their “small world”.

I think we have a lot of work to do when it comes to designing and connecting experience design – very few brands think about how it works, how people interact with each other to create these moments.

How do you design the ideal experience? Is it possible to over-engineer this?

Any experience should be natural, desirable and sought after – I don’t think you could over-engineer something that matters to people if you understand what’s important to them.

What we’re seeing at the moment is people who are trying to create something that woos you, engages you or entertains you – we are witnessing the age of manufactured engagement.

Every experience has to begin with ‘what does the individual prefer and value?’ in order to work – just think about how many emails you have to delete every day; people are trying to reach you without understanding you and that’s a problem.

How about joining the dots between online and offline experiences?

This is an area where too many brands are still paying lip service without executing their actions properly. We can’t have the conversation about online, offline and the transcendent experience between the two because we haven’t looked at what our customers value, love, desire and how they behave. Once we do, we can find opportunities to design new, better, unified experiences online and in the real world.

This is what I usually call the experience divide. We should start by asking what’s our brand promise and then mapping the customer experience against that promise. If you do this you’ll quickly unravel the experience divides your company has. You’ll find out exactly where you’re failing and why.

This divide represents the reason why consumers are bypassing traditional means to get the experience they want.

I’ve done a lot of work with Google in the past couple of years for example, discussing the way in which empowered customers makes decisions and how their core values motivate them to take the next step – from their standpoint, brands are in dire risk of losing to the next generation of consumers.

What are the best examples of innovation in customer experience that you have seen?

To be honest I always defer this question because it’s important to understand the mission in CX, which is designing your customer’s experience.

I think a better question to ask or answer is: What is valuable to the people we’re trying to reach, and how do we create experiences that matter to them?

When we look at brands and how they are delivering the experiences, we tend to get very tactical and technological very fast. We don’t explore enough about the trends happening behind the scenes.

This is very important as it shapes our digital transformation now. We are adding to existing experiences without fixing what’s broken and inventing or creating what’s new upon blank slates.

If we don’t fix that core problem which lies underneath the experience – such as lack of communication or collaboration internally, dated and disconnected touch points, aimless journeys, etc., we risk operating in a culture detached from what’s actually happening and is instead only focused on conversions, reach, and shareholder value. There’s much to fix and even more opportunities for innovation on every front.

These are the questions I’m exploring at the moment – how can we fix that? How can we build something new? What can we borrow from our archetypes of experience in order to create something new, and better?

Where do you see CX growing and evolving in the next 5x years?

As experience architects, we have to start looking into the smallest places where CX is already benchmarked and build them into entire customer journeys.

Uber is often cited as an example of innovation and disruption. But what they’ve actually done, which is “breakthrough” innovative, but rarely mentioned, is changing the benchmark for a great customer experience when using an app as an integrated service.

So in many ways, whether you’re a dentist or a bank, you’re competing with Uber in terms of experiential standards. It’s fast, transparent, personal, frictionless, and evolving.

In the next few years, we have to look at where people are having great experience individually in order to integrate that in our services…especially outside of our industry. We will see our customers from entirely new viewpoints – and that will already be a massive step forward in itself.

Tell us a bit more about your latest book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, and what you’re working on next?

It feels like the book just came out yesterday as I haven’t been able to move on from that moment. In a way, the book was transformative for myself as an author because it forced me to change – you can’t talk about designing experiences for a digital economy if you’re not willing to disrupt yourself.

I found it ironic that I was going to ask readers to challenge their own conventions and beliefs and re-imagine experiences for a new world yet I was going to do so in basic book form.

X to me was a culmination of innovation – it took me about 3 and a half years to turn the concept into something tangible, and the process changed every aspect about how I operate, think and write. I learned from mobile behaviors and app UX and UI and translated those insights onto paper.

To follow that book up is almost too great a task – in fact, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do next that surpasses the effort. In the meantime, X has never been more timely and I’m giving it my full support.

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Instagram: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

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Brian Solis

Miyubi: Oculus’ Feature-Length VR Experience

Right. This is it. The world’s first feature length VR film for Oculus. Picture this. You’re in the 80s and you’re a robot. Yes. A Robot called “Miyubi”. The immersive VR film puts you as the lead, a robot who is now loved by a very typical American family after “dad” gets back from Japan. […]


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Dunkirk: An Immersive WebVR Experience

The new Dunkirk movie is meant to be epic. And EPIC is this: the new WebVR Experience for the feature film. This co-play experience requires two people to play. You can ask a friend to join, or team up with a random player from around the world – your choice! Players become Allied troops on […]


Digital Buzz Blog

The Importance of Experience Design and the Future of Brand

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Customers today are accidental narcissists.

Tomorrow is an entirely new game brands, CX strategists and marketers.

Disruption is a gift either given to you or by you.

Knowing this, we are still making mistakes in creating meanignful experiences to a new generation of connected, impatient and demanding customers. We get stuck in legacy thinking, playbooks and metrics rather than innovate and disrupt to fully capitalize on new digital opportunities.

Following my presentation at Adobe Summit, I had the opportunity to join my dear friend Giselle Abramovich of CMO.com for an extensive conversation about the importance of experience design and the future of brand in a digital economy.

Giselle has a way of bringing out the best in someone. In our discussion, I share my latest research, work and ideas about how every company should re-imagine brand for an era of digital Darwinism.

The questions and answers cover a broad range and will get your mind running and hopefully inspire you to blaze new trails for others to follow.

Questions covered in the video:

  1. How does digital transformation and experiential marketing intersect?
  2. What does it take to be an experience-driven business?
  3. What is the role of data in crafting these experiences for consumers?
  4. Every brand claims they are experience-led. How do you get everyone on board?
  5. Which consumer trends should marketers pay close attention to?
  6. How should brands think about experience?
  7. What else are marketers prioritizing?
  8. How did you become a digital anthropologist?

Related Links:

The State of Digital Transformation

The Six Stages of Digital Transformation

The O.P.P.O.S.I.T.E. Approach to Digital CX

The Digital Change Agent’s Manifesto

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Instagram: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

The post The Importance of Experience Design and the Future of Brand appeared first on Brian Solis.


Brian Solis

Experience Innovation – Designing for the X Factor in Customer Experience

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Coming up in Silicon Valley during the 90s and early 2000s was special for a geek like me. I moved to Northern California from LA in 1996. Tech and startups were at the time fledgling in Los Angeles but still exciting. I would later return to help catalyze the startup ecosystem. My goal at the time was to plug into the startup garage capital of the world. By then, there were already storied landmarks that one would have to visit. The HP garage (considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley), the Apple garage, the Google garage, et al.

But it wasn’t just garages. There were sprawling tech campuses that were already reshaping the Bay Area…and the world. Among the many, one of the iconic landmarks in the rise of Silicon Valley is the Xerox PARC innovation center. This is afterall, where Steve Jobs famously witnessed (and marketed) the GUI (graphical user interface), WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editing and mouse techologies for the launch of Lisa and Macintosh and the personal computer market.

I was beyond thrilled, when I was invited to PARC to present on the topic of “Experience Innovation.” It was not only an honor, but also validation of my years of work, that I could contribute something to epicenter of innovation.

I wanted to share that experience with you here.

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Designexplores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Instagram: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

The post Experience Innovation – Designing for the X Factor in Customer Experience appeared first on Brian Solis.


Brian Solis

Why Inconsistent Messaging is Undermining Customer Experience

This article is part of our series on customer experience where we focus on topics relating to connecting data, intelligence and experiences. Further reading: Silo Busting is Essential to Delivering Personalized Experiences.

Delivering exceptional customer experiences has quickly become table stakes for marketers. Too often, though, these experiences are undermined by inconsistent messaging and opportunities go begging.

Repeated or irrelevant messages breed consumer intolerance and annoyance, which they are not afraid to shout about to the hilltops.

Inconsistent messaging can also be a lost opportunity. For instance, when a customer expects to be informed, but there is silence. Such as when a customer signs up to a new program and reasonably expects to receive a welcome email. When they receive nothing, that can create confusion and concern — which can be just as damaging as a sending a poor message.

In markets like China, where social and ecommerce platforms are dominated by a few large players, the risk and reward of consistent messaging increases, particularly for B2C companies.

For example, WeChat and Alibaba both have an incredible reach. And, given their prominence, consumers often use both platforms. So, any inconsistent message on WeChat can quickly undermine strong messaging on Alibaba, and vice-versa.

Compounding this problem, marketers sometimes focus too intently on WeChat and Alibaba and neglect their owned channels of email, SMS, and website. The messaging in all channels must be relevant and consistent.

Why It’s Happening

This isn’t rocket science, but it still trips up many marketers. The reason? The ubiquitous problems that arise from disconnected data systems and data access – marketers and systems in silos. Marketers simply do not have a single view of the customer, much less an accurate idea of what messaging has already been delivered.

That problem snowballs when channels are managed by different teams — such as a media agency for acquisition and remarketing, another agency for social marketing, while a company’s own marketing team manages email and mobile channels.

When this happens, even a central marketing plan can’t connect the data and creative for individual customer experiences.

Many organizations still lack the skills and tools necessary to unearth customer insights from first-party data. Those insights are needed to improve customer experience and deliver consistent, relevant messages through all channels automatically.

How to Fix It

A great place to start is to build consistency on the areas over which you have control and where you are comfortable.

For example, implementing automation and template programs for email and mobile channels will improve consistency in message cadence and content. At Oracle, we recommend leveraging existing data and using dynamic content to personalize your messages while maintaining a consistent message.

Next, build a data strategy to inform segmentation and start to weave that in other channels. It’s likely that your first major roadblock will be addressing how customer data is managed and accessed. Therefore, when getting data architecture in order, the focus should be on creating a core customer view in a secure, transparent and privacy-compliant way. All other data — such as sales, product, and policies — can then be attached to the core customer data, creating the fabled 360 degree view of the customer.

It is no small feat to upgrade data architecture and automate marketing. However, the benefits that accrue will quickly justify the undertaking.

Want to learn more? Get the Cross-Channel Orchestration Fundamentals Guide to learn how you can give consumers the personalized, relevant, and consistent experiences they want.  


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Perspectives: Reimagining space and experience In the future of retail

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I just finished researching innovation trends in retail. It took over a year to complete and honestly, the insights shared in it are applicable to every industry. Please download, read and share it with your colleagues, even if you’re not in retail. It’ll help.

Recently, I was invited to present my findings on retail innovation at The Summit hosted by AT&T. I also cut right to the heart of the matter, that what we’re really talking about is change. How do we change, and then what do we do differently, to invest in new areas that create new value for our customers and those who are not yet our customers.

All innovation is a shift in mindset. That’s where retail and so many industries struggle. Many executives, boards and stakeholders are trying to do new things based on legacy mindsets and outdated operational models.

Mindset.

Innovation is all the work you do to conform to expectations and aspirations of people as they evolve instead of making them conform to legacy perspectives, assumptions, processes, policies and metrics of success.

Start with space.

Reimagine space.

Online and physical.

Most decisions are made using existing space as a center of reference for new possibilities and experiments. But that’s just thinking within the proverbial box. Even if we “think outside of the box,” we’re still in a box, just trying to think outside of it. We haven’t changed the rules. We haven’t changed the norms.

Space as a construct is limited only and also shaped by your imagination.

What is space?

How can space bring to life new experiences online and in person?

And that’s just it, what experiences do people value today, tomorrow, in other industries, that we can learn from to bridge the gap between what we offer and what people need or cherish? And, how do we connect ROI to those ideas to earn support rather than skepticism and denial.

Please take a moment to watch this short, three-minute video from The Summit that highlights this conversation (with inspiration music for added effect!)

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design.

Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Instagram: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV

The post Perspectives: Reimagining space and experience In the future of retail appeared first on Brian Solis.


Brian Solis

Customer Experience For The Win #FTW

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I had the opportunity to keynote UNITE by Satmetrix recently on the topic of experience design for modern customers. Leading up to the event, I joined the team on a podcast to discuss the topic in-depth. I share it with you here in the hopes that it will help you.

Capture the heart, mind and spirt of the new CX…the customer’s experience

Ask 10 different executives what CX means and how to improve it, you’ll get at least 15 different answers. Hear Brian make a compelling case that customer experience is the future of business. Learn why CX is bigger than any one department – and, importantly, what to do about it.

Highlights

Three word advice for CX success: “Be” the customer.

Debunk this myth! Customer journey mapping improves the customer journey. It’s all about experience mapping.

Admirable CX innovation: Experience mapping, flows, and overall experience design; they force an empathetic approach to CX.

Learn this from your peers: Career path/advice.

To raise the profile of CX in your organization: Highlight the friction that results from bad CX. Friction = lost revenue.

Listen here.

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Instagram: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

The post Customer Experience For The Win #FTW appeared first on Brian Solis.


Brian Solis

Customer Experience is Defined by the Experience Customer’s Have, Remember and Share

The funny thing about customer experience is that, for all of its good intentions, it is a bit ironic. Many businesses talk about the importance of customer experience (CX). At the same time, many are prioritizing investments in new technologies and touchpoints to improve engagement. But, when asked about their understanding of modern customer behaviors, expectations, preferences and which experiences in their life they love and don’t love…you get crickets. All too often, customer experience doesn’t really start with the customer. But in reality, the customer experience can only be defined by the experience a customer has with a brand. And, it can only be measured by the experience they have in each moment and the sum of those moments. Said another way, customer experience belongs to the customer and it should start with them.

That’s the irony of CX. It’s often not customer-centered. Companies are frequently shareholder- or stakeholder-centric. Decisions must always have the company’s best interests front and center. As such, CX can be viewed as a cost center and not necessarily as an investment. But customers who have great experiences will almost certainly deliver ROI against any strategic, customer-centered approach to CX. For example, it’s been reported that customers will pay up to 25% more for a similar product if they believe they’re going to get an exceptional experience. They’re willing to spend more money with brands that deliver experiences that excel over mediocrity. Think about that. How sad is it that people will pay extra to avoid frustrating, indifferent or reluctant experiences?

Experience Matters to Humans

Customer experiences are just that…they’re experiences. They’re human. Customers too, are human. Surprise! This is why I look at, the emotional side of experience design in addition to technology and trends. Customer experiences, or experiences in general, are essentially emotional reactions to moments. They can be measured by how people feel, sense and respond at each touchpoint and in the totality of the customer journey. Customer experience is so much more than any one thing. It’s everything! Any technology, effort, process or policy that touches the customer contributes to experiences individually and collectively. They must be designed and they must work together.

Any investment in CX must first start with understanding the experience from the customer’s perspective, what’s broken or missing, and also what it could be in comparison to the experiences that customers love elsewhere. For example, whatever business you’re in, whether you’re a dentist or a bank, you compete with the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, et al., in terms of experiential standards. They’re fast, transparent, personalized, frictionless and evolving. They become the standard for what people want and expect.

For example, in my research into CX and digital transformation, I consistently find that companies are out-of-touch with modern customer. Most recently, I learned that the majority of businesses are planning CX and digital transformation roadmaps and making investments with incomplete information about the customer. Case in point, 2017 findings show that only 34.8% of businesses have fully mapped the customer journey within the last year, which is down from 54% last year. Wow.

Experiences Happen and They Influence Others

Customer experiences happen whether they’re designed to be amazing or not. The best and the worst experiences convert into memories. How people experience those moments shouldn’t be left to chance.

In this always-on, hyper-connected, mobile world, customers are sharing those experiences online, everywhere, and those shared experiences become the currency of influence. Customers increasingly rely on the experiences people have and share to inform and shape their decisions and next steps. This is why customer experience has never been more important and why CX must start with the customer’s experience at the heart of everything. That takes insight, empathy and then design. Touchpoints must be more than functional, transactional and connected. They must bring to life desired experiences that people prefer and hopefully remember in ways that positively impact the brand and influence others.

You have to know your customer and how they’re different than what you know or assume and how they continue to evolve. Then you have to design CX strategies for the experiences you want people to have and share. This really shouldn’t be a surprise. Exceptional CX doesn’t just build upon the experiences of yesterday, it breaks new ground to deliver modern experiences for today and tomorrow. That takes intent, design, integration and cross-functional collaboration to deliver experiences in each moment of truth and throughout the customer’s journey.

Design experiences that matter…to human beings. Then work together towards a vision and purpose that everyone can align with and deliver against.  Experience starts with you.

Please join Brian Solis at Nextcon, October 23rd at 9 a.m. for the opening keynote, “Great Expectations: The Customer Mindset for 2018.”

About Brian

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Designexplores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Instagram: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

The post Customer Experience is Defined by the Experience Customer’s Have, Remember and Share appeared first on Brian Solis.


Brian Solis

Ignite the Fan Experience

As a fan of the Golden State Warriors, I’m still gushing over their 2017 NBA Championship win.  Congratulations Dubs!  We’re so proud.

Being in the Bay Area, we are very lucky to have talented sports teams including basketball, baseball, football and hockey.  Having been to every stadium/arena, the fan experiences are quite different!

At home, we’re spoiled by the HD surround sound, consistent internet connectivity and multiple screens so we won’t miss any moments.

As stated in “Should the Chief Marketing Officer Oversee The Whole Customer Experience?” report, the consumerization of IT has created often unfulfilled customer experiences. 

At stadiums for example, there are:

Lines: they were everywhere from parking lot, front entrance, concession vendors, bathrooms, leaving the game, you name it.

Limited connectivity: it’s very slow.  So slow to load it’s hard to watch replays or look up real-time stats.

Disengaged experiences: once I step away, I missed plays. 

Arch rival: gotta love them.  That’s why it’s a game!

Supportive fans: those are the best and there are tons of them!

At live events, there’s no frustration among fans waiting in long lines.  We’re patient, interactive and social, at least before the game.  Social networks and consumerization of IT have created the expectation with apps, online and mobile experiences that’s easy to use and fun keeping us engaged. 

With all the digital disruption in every industry from retail to manufacturing to banking, this is the perfect place to use technology and data to enhance the customer experience with the Oracle Simphony Cloud

At live events, spending less time in lines should be an easy fix!  The action is what fans like me are most passionate about and it would be the next best thing to be able to enjoy a more interactive, modern experience like this:

 

 


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