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

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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:

 

 


Oracle Blogs | Oracle Marketing Cloud

60% of CMOs Value Brand Experience For Creating Ongoing Relationships

Results of a recent survey revealed that brand managers, CMOs, and event planners around the world are recognizing that sensory brand experiences are a key strategy when it comes to building brand loyalty and staying top of the mind during the purchasing process. If consumers are loyal to your brand, then yours is one of the first names they think of when making a purchasing decision.

The survey was carried out by Freeman, a provider of brand experiences. The experts at the company polled 1,000 professionals in B2B and B2C marketing across North America, Western Europe, and Asia. They discovered that nine out of ten of the people they surveyed confirmed that brand experiences have become a greater central part to their roles than ever before.

The survey also showed that nine out of ten professionals believe that brand experiences offering strong personal interactions created greater levels of brand engagement. Brand engagement is one of the most important parts of marketing.

Evolution In Expectations

The reason that brand experiences are becoming an even bigger part of the marketing process is that the world has seen an evolution in audience expectations. According to Jason Stephen Ali, Director of Marketing forBroadConnect Telecom “It’s never been more important for marketing professionals to take a new approach following an increase in steep competition, the changing demographics, and audiences becoming more sophisticated.”

Over two-thirds of all the survey respondents across the board were in agreement that creating a great brand experience was a key step in achieving the goals of their organization. 59% of the Chief Marketing Officers surveyed value brand experience for creating ongoing relationships.

The report also found that, with marketers recognizing the value brand experiences offer, they are changing how much they spend on creating said experiences. Over one-third of all the CMOs surveyed said they expected that brand experiences will make up 21-50% of their marketing budgets within the next five years.

Three Main Tactics

The three main tactics used by marketers to drive up brand experiences are websites (58%), social media (57%), and through email marketing (51%). Marketers moving ahead of the trend and getting in on immersing their audiences with the brand are taking advantage of interactive marketing tools including touch screens, virtual reality, location mapping, and gamification. Gamification itself is becoming a major part of modern marketing and even staff training.

The report showed that marketers in Asia particularly are moving quickly to adopt immersive and interactive technologies into their brand experiences. Some 42% of Asian marketers are making use of sensory interaction in some way to create a personalized brand experience for their customers, which is much more than the 28% of marketers doing the same thing in North America, and 13% in Western Europe. On top of this, 31% of Asian companies are making use of virtual reality in their brand experiences.

This is over three times as many as the 7-9% of marketers using virtual reality elsewhere in the world. Gamification continues to expand as well, as 22% of Asian companies are making use of gamification compared to the 9 and 13% of their respective counterparts using it.

Every sector is seeing an increase in brand experiences, but there still seems to be a disconnect when analyzing marketing roles within organizations. 48% of CMOs see brand experiences as a great way to showcase their thought leadership and connect with their audience, but only a third of brand managers, and just 28% of event planners are in agreement with this assessment.

Over 58% of CMOs feel that creating a strong brand experience delivers a powerful impact when it comes to connecting their audience to their brand and increasing brand advocacy. The disconnect with this opinion is even greater, as just 13% and 18% of brand managers and event planners respectively agree with their CMOs. It’s up to CMOs to continue to tout the importance of brand experiences and get their contemporaries to agree.

Privacy Is Paramount

Every marketer the world over is fully cognizant of the need for the best possible experience each time, every time with their brand. But with every experience comes more data and with more data comes more responsibility.

"I don't think brands realize just how big and how important data privacy is," said Yosi Yahoudai, founder of JNYLaw. "And consumers are very concerned. Just look at the recent Gigya study which showed nearly 70% are concerned how brands use their personal data."

Moreover there is the soon-to-be-enacted General Data Protection Regulation in the EU, which has been dubbed "the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years." According to the official site the regulation, which goes into effect on May 25, 2018 was designed "to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy."

And lest you think because you're brand is not affected if it's not based in the EU, according to Tech Target Being GDPR compliant is not just a concern for the EU.

With just over a year to go until the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect, companies need to assess their obligations to be GDPR compliant. Although organizations located outside of the European Union might not give a second thought to EU regulations, the GDPR will affect nearly every organization that does business online, regardless of its geographic location."

With IoT, smart watches, connected vehicles, Alexa and on and on there has never been a in history where more data is being generated every single second of every single day. But just because you as a brand have access to all this data does not mean it is yours to use, necessarily.

Who Should Lead?

As customer expectations continue to rise, businesses need to appoint a senior executive like the Chief Marketing Officer to deliver exceptional, end-to-end customer experiences. It’s a tall order, but if done right, enhanced customer experiences translate into loyalty, repeat business, and revenue.

Download Should The Chief Marketing Officer Oversee The Whole Customer Experience? to learn how businesses can set CMOs up for success using four of Constellation’s primary business research themes, including Next-Generation Customer Experience, Digital Marketing Transformation, Matrix Commerce, and Data to Decisions.

This article first appeared on Forbes

Image source: Pexels


Oracle Blogs | Oracle Marketing Cloud

Designing the Experience: My Ongoing Experiments with Book Trailers and Storytelling

I’ve always been fascinated by Hollywood trailers. So much so, that 10 years ago, I was determined to develop a trailer for my next book at the time, Engage!. Since then, I launched every subsequent book with a trailer. You can see a compilation here.

With my latest book X, I broke that tradition. It wasn’t intentional however. I simply got so caught up with the launch and the following book tour that I couldn’t get to it. That didn’t sit well with me and so I decided to do something about it. Over the last several months, I started a few separate book trailer projects. The first two I’d like to share with you are experiments in that they deviate from my usual approach.

I wanted to share them with you here to get your feedback on which one I should use as one of the official trailers I’m set to debut.

For these two pilots, I partnered with Chief Nina Eric Prospero Torres of NinjaTropic to experiment with alternative takes on what a book trailer could be. In version 1, I emphasize the script and used imagery to visualize the narrative. Since this is a book about designing experiences in a digital economy, I aimed to find the right balance between words, visuals and music to evoke the senses and inspire an action or reaction.

Pilot v1

Pilot v2

Version 2 follows the same script and is visually similar to what you just watched. But with this one, I was distracted by a voice over artist who sounded a lot like Morgan Freeman. I just needed to hear what it sounded like because….Morgan Freeman! While he may not be the best imitator, it was an interesting experience and I’m curious what you think. The challenge here however, is the undulation and pace of a Morgan Freeman-like narrative slows down the experience and adds another minute to the trailer length.

Please let me know what you think and I’d appreciate it if you could share this post.

Thank you!

p.s. I’d also like to say thank you to NinjaTropic and Eric in particular. Thank you for your patience and openness to experiment!

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

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Brian Solis

Experience Happens: Design What You Want People to Feel

“Experience” is one of those words that is both aspirational while also meaning something uniquely different to each person who uses the word. No matter who you define it, the important thing to remember is that experiences lie in the value of the beholder.

The reality is that experiences are something you feel, you sense, and they’re defined by the people experiencing them. Whether they’re amazing, meh or terrible, they’re either forgotten or they turn into memories. Either way, reactions and feelings say everything about engagement and how important moments translate into experiences and how those experiences become, or not, shared expressions and memories.

Unfortunately, so much of the work in experience design today does not take into account how someone is going to react, why and what they are going to perceive as they move on. Important moments are often left to chance. All too frequently, moments that matter are solved for by technology, creativity and greenlit from a distant perspective that is probably out of touch with what people want or desire to experience.

In the end, experiences are the same of all moments someone has with you in each touchpoint, throughout their journey and lifecycle.

Experiences take empathy, thoughtfulness and intent. And, that takes design.

I was recently going through some of the archives aka email and I came across an interview with my good friend Minter Dial from SXSW 2016! In the midst of the chaos that is South by, we found the quietest spot available and where we discussed the future of experience design and why the world needs experience architects.

Please listen here or over at iTunes.

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

 

 

 

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Brian Solis

Innovation in Customer Experience Starts with a Shift in Perspective

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While traveling Europe this year, I met Silvia Hänig who was writing a story for Haufe.de about customer experience. She followed up our initial conversation with the questions below. Instead of shooting back quick answers, I took the time, maybe too much time, to thoughtfully reply as if I were going to share the exchange with everyone. And, that’s what I’m doing here.

I hope it helps you…

Mister Solis, why is it so difficult to create Customer Experience (CX) for many people and decision makers?

Customer Experience (CX) is a difficult process, because so many stakeholders interpret CX differently and then prioritize investments and resources accordingly.

The IT department thinks it’s about technology. The marketing department focuses on channel and content trends. Customer service focuses on contact centers. Advertising creates clever campaigns and activates experiential events. And executives make decisions based on gut instinct and maybe even cognitive biases. I could go on and on. Even though these are generalizations, much of the work I’ve seen in CX isn’t really customer-focused. It’s role and process oriented.

These types of traditional perspectives hamper the vision for change. Each group inadvertently contributes to a disconnected approach to CX because they’re attempting to solve one part of the customer’s journey and experience from their silo. Yet, customers don’t see departments, they see one brand.

Just because “this is how it’s always been done” is a recipe for digital Darwinism today. CX is an opportunity to design, improve and integrate real-world experiences that the customer is going to have. In the process, businesses will have to re-align models and processes to unite disparate groups into one congruent effort. This will help companies compete in an era where customers are taking control of their experiences.

Who should own the experience? And what skills will be important in the future?

The best companies in CX take a different perspective regarding this question. They start with acknowledging that the person who owns the customer experience is…wait for it…the customer.

Think about that for a second.

They absolutely own their experience. Yet, here we are debating, who should own it. It seems that companies do everything, but understand their behaviors, expectations, preferences et al.

I define CX this way: it’s the sum of all engagements a customer has with your brand in every touchpoint, in each moment of truth, throughout the customer lifecycle. The question to ask is then, what is the experience they have? What experiences do they expect or desire? What experiences they’re receiving from other companies? More so, how are their favorite apps – for example Uber or Tinder – changing their expectations and how should you rethink the customer journey to be native, frictionless, and delightful based on outside innovation? As such, the question who owns CX, is something that should be answered in a future state and work toward that goal now.

Companies excelling here are looking at ideal customer experiences and building inside and outside for them. New cross-functional groups lead collaboration to remove friction, optimize effective touchpoints and invest innovation based on new areas of opportunity. An empathetic customer-centric approach to CX improves retention, acquisition and relationships. Great Customer Experience is all the work, that you do so your customers don’t have to…

To what extent technology should play a role in Customer Experience?

Too many businesses today take a technology-first approach to Customer Experience, which is ironically not customer centric. I call this the remote control. No one likes the remote control. We use it, because we have to. I would go so far to say that we have a reluctant relationship with it. Yet, every year, even though we get a new generation of TV innovation, we still get a remote control that looks a little different, but also gets more complex along the way. Did you know that there are on average 70 buttons on this brick and at the same time, we all have phones or tablets where we interact with them using completely different gestures? Technology is not the answer, it’s an enabler. CX should start with three “P’s” – people, purpose and promise. Technology should facilitate experiences and bring them to life.

What is the importance of CX as part of the digital transformation?

Digital transformation means something different to everyone. Just like customer experience. It is something, that is started independently in each group with different objectives. But like CX, everything is on a collision course towards convergence. Everything has to work together, otherwise you compete against yourself.

I define digital transformation this way: The re-alignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital consumers (and employees), create new value and deliver delightful and relevant experiences at every touchpoint in the customer and employee journey.

In my research (see below), I’ve found that a common catalyst for rapid and ultimately holistic digital transformation is indeed CX. More so, by zooming in on the Digital Customer Experience (DCX) and asking what would my digital customer do and how is it affecting traditional behavior, companies can beeline towards fast innovation.

Customer Experience: Everything has to work together

This is the part where skeptics or laggards say: “Why would you focus on the digital customer? They’re a minority in the overall market. We should focus on customers as a whole!” They’re right in some aspects.

The thing is that ­they didn’t focus on customers. They focused on shareholders and stakeholders. Additionally, they continued to invest in technologies and systems that distanced companies from people all in the name of efficiencies, scale and profitability.

It’s the same argument with taxis in the face of Uber. They’ve had ­years to study how people’s experiences and expectations, how they were changing, how digital was affecting experiences and decision-making, how start-ups were placing customers at the center of services. Once Uber hit the market, it set a new standard for customer experience. People who take Uber don’t go back to taking taxis unless they have to. There’s an Uber of everything on the horizon of every business and digital transformation is the best defense and offense to compete in a digital economy.

Additional reports that will help you lead the way…

The Race Against Digital Darwinism: Six Stages of Digital Transformation

8 Success Factors of Digital Transformation: How Businesses Are Taking an Opposite Approach to Business as Usual

The 2016 State of Digital Transformation

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Please read X, The Experience When Business Meets Design or visit my previous publications

Connect with Brian!

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

Invite him to speak at your next event or meeting. 

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Brian Solis

Human-Centered CX: Uniting Stakeholders Across the Enterprise to Deliver a Relevant and Holistic Customer Experience

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Customer experience is said to be a top business priority for most companies around the world. Many experts agree that investing in CX establishes a competitive advantage against companies that prioritize the bottom line. While customer experience is a noble and important catalyst for business transformation, becoming truly customer-centric requires an introspective approach. This takes stepping back to define what customer experience really means from the customer perspective, what they truly value and also what’s primed, broken or missing to deliver next generation CX.

For example, the organizational infrastructure of many companies is modeled to support the traditional sales funnel. Like the funnel itself, many of the departments designed to support it are compartmentalized. This is why we have silos and why many CX evangelists say that we need to “break down the walls” between them. But, functions such as sales, customer service, marketing, retention, etc., were designed to serve objectives. At the time, those intentions were meant to best serve the customer in those respective stages. The idea and expense of integration was nonsensical in that reach group was funded and measured by how they operated and served customers independently not through integration. To challenge that would often go against the “steady as she moves” or worse, risk averse culture that govern many organizations.

The truth is that traditional business models were designed in an era before the consumerization of technology. Customers (and employees) are empowered by technology and by the connections and access social media, mobile and connected devices, etc., facilitate. As a result, the basic premise of how companies sell, serve and support customers now requires new models and methods that meet the behaviors and expectations of a more discerning generation. This is why I believe that one of the biggest trends in business today, digital transformation, is as much about technology as it is about people, operations, processes and perspectives.

Digital transformation is the realignment of, or new investment in, technology, business models, and processes to deliver new value to customers and employees in an ever- changing digital economy. In fact, in my research, I’ve found that customer experience is often the greatest ally in digital transformation efforts.

So what is customer experience?

Let’s start with what it’s not.

Customer experience is not the investment of new front end and back end technology to fix and modernize touch points. Those are acts of CX.

Customer experience is human and as such, is defined as the sum of all engagements a customer has with your company in every touch point throughout their lifecycle.

Starting with anything other than a customer-first or human-centered perspective is an easy mistake companies often make.

Believe it or not, CX is often a technology-led approach. It’s easy to fall into the technology trap though. After all, that’s how much of it is sold. For example, tools ranging from journey mapping to CRM to content management to data and analytics are aiming to help companies integrate and scale customer experience initiatives. But without understanding people, what’s important to them, and how they, and their preferences and values are evolving, businesses are not actually innovating in CX or basing what’s supposed to be customer-centered efforts on empathy or relevance. Work in customer experience starts with the customer’s point of view and considers their intentions, aspirations, challenges, etc., to fix problems and create new value.

Since customer experience is the aggregate sentiment and resulting reactions of people in each moment of truth, then all work must focus on delivering consistent, efficient, relevant and meaningful experiences. They must be connected, complementary and seamless. This means that previously separated business units must now cross silos to collaborate, connect back-end processes and systems and design a new kind of customer journey that’s intuitive and efficient for a new generation of connected customers. It’s not easy. This is why digital transformation is often led by CX. Great CX reverberates across the enterprise.

Innovation in CX Often Starts with an Opposite Approach

Some of the most advanced companies I’ve studied invest in CX with a human-centered point of view to give technology and operational investments purpose.

The direction each business takes in pursuing change is complex, and there is no one way to excel. Nor is there one tell-all anecdote, framework or app to map the journey of your next steps toward programmatic transformation. Rather, companies that succeed do so by taking an empathetic approach. They also seek executive sponsorship to support the formation of a cross-functional steering committee to 1) find critical missed opportunities, 2) fix what’s broken or causing friction and 3) identify areas for immediate and long-term innovation, 4) develop a roadmap for CX and 5) guide the company’s digital transformation.

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To help, I assembled a series of best practices as informed by those leading CX initiatives and transformation in companies such as Discover, GM, Harvard, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nestlé, Sephora, Starbucks, among many others. This resulted in what I hope is a useful framework and report, “Eight Success Factors of Digital Transformation: How businesses are taking an O.P.P.O.S.I.T.E. approach to business as usual.

The framework offers insights and new understanding of technology, data and the connected customer. By learning from these companies and following the OPPOSITE approach, digital transformation and all the work, resources, and plans around it becomes identifiable, approachable and attainable for organizations.

OPPOSITE is an acronym that offers companies a step-by-step approach to digital transformation…

  1. Orientation:Establish a new perspective to drive meaningful change.
  1. People:Understand customer values, expectations and behaviors.
  1. Processes:Assess operational infrastructure and update (or revamp) technologies, processes and policies to support change.
  1. Objectives:Define the purpose of digital transformation, aligning stakeholders (and shareholders) around the new vision and roadmap.
  1. Structure:Form a dedicated digital experience team with roles/responsibilities/objectives/accountability clearly defined.
  1. Insights & Intent:Gather data and apply insights toward strategy to guide digital evolution.
  1. Technology:Re-evaluate front and back-end systems for a seamless, integrated and native customer (and ultimately employee) experience.
  1. Execution:Implement, learn and adapt to steer ongoing digital transformation and customer experience work

The OPPOSITE framework was designed to visualize your work building toward digital transformation and reshaping the customer experience. It’s also meant to help create alignment among different stakeholder groups to drive a larger, more unified movement in the modernization and, in some cases complete innovation, in business dynamics and models.

For companies looking to align their CX efforts with customer preferences, behaviors and values, look beyond your existing infrastructure and processes to unite stakeholders across the organization, create a shared vision, develop an innovative experience architecture and roadmap and take more meaningful steps towards thriving in the new digital reality.

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Please read X, The Experience When Business Meets Design or visit my previous publications

Connect with Brian!

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

Invite him to speak at your next event or meeting. 

The post Human-Centered CX: Uniting Stakeholders Across the Enterprise to Deliver a Relevant and Holistic Customer Experience appeared first on Brian Solis.


Brian Solis

E-Commerce and Apps Pave the Way To The Future of Retail: Inside Amazon Go, A New Retail Experience

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We’re a company of builders. Of pioneers. It’s our job to make bold bets, and we get our energy from inventing on behalf of customers. Here are just some of the innovations pioneered by Amazon, and we’re always looking for the next one. – Amazon

Every industry is ripe for disruption. It’s what you do now that defines your future and legacy.

One of the most exposed industries to disruption at the moment, among many, is the retail sector. From the internet of things (IoT) to sensors to beacons to displays to apps and everything in between, each new trend introduces new challenges and opportunities to compete.

Technology trends however, do not solely define the future of retail. People count for everything. How they shop today versus how they want to and will shop in the future is the source of meaningful innovation. Technology changes. People evolve. That’s digital Darwinism at work. But there’s more at play.

Mobile, social, and every popular app or device that become the next big thing constantly push people further and further toward new and exciting experiences. Digital payments too, such as PayPal, Square, Venmo, ApplePay, Google Wallet, et al., are conditioning consumers to rethink the relationship between physical cash and transactions. With that said, even transactions are open to new dimensions.

On-demand companies such as Postmates, Uber, and the like, are hiding payments and transactions and packing everything together as “an experience.” Add everything together, and those paying close attention will see how outside forces are influencing new customer behaviors, preferences and expectations day in and day out.

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Business as usual is no longer ok. Taking new tech and tying it down to old perspectives and processes is not innovation. It’s iteration at best and dangerous in common practice. Retail and e-commerce not only face new pressures to innovate, but also must explore co-existence and even collaboration to re-imagine the meaning of “space.” The reality is that competition can come from anywhere.

What’s the difference between iteration and innovation?

Iteration is using new tech to do the same things better or differently.

Innovation is doing new things that create new opportunities and value.

Only one sets the stage for a new normal.

What’s clear now is that customers do not want compromise. Yet, they’re forced to compromise in many ways throughout the customer journey. Innovation in shopper experience is all the work you do to conform to expectations and aspirations of people as they evolve instead of making them conform to your legacy perspectives, assumptions, processes and metrics of success.

Physical retail space, operations, and everything behind the scenes are your opportunities to disrupt and at the same time, thwart disruption and competitive threats.

Amazon Sets The Bar for a New Level of Customer Experience…Again

Amazon made news when it opened a brick-and-mortar bookstore to challenge everyone’s idea of what a bookstore could be in the 21st century. Now, Amazon opened a beta version of what a grocery store could be. Introducing Amazon Go. Opened only for employees in Washington at the moment, this 1800 square foot pilot demonstrates exactly how retailers need to rethink the future of retail beyond beacons, magic mirrors and apps.

What is retail?

That’s a serious question.

We tend to base the answer on retail as we know it. It’s a form of cognitive or validation bias if you will. When we consider new possibilities, they’re centered on a common perspective of today’s functional environment. We don’t start from a new center and as such, we unintentionally wrestle with iteration vs innovation.

But not Amazon…

This is a company that often starts with a blank slate, customer-first perspectives, and different questions:

What if…?

Might we…?

Why…?

Amazon is yet again, demonstrating that the future of retail is left to imagination. It seems that more and more, the path to innovation is tied directly to the ability to appreciate, but also see past, iteration.

So, what is Amazon Go?

Let’s start with what it isn’t…a traditional retail store.

Amazon is beta testing a grocery store for the 21st century that reconsiders space and transactions in a world that blurs mobile, online and spatiality. It all takes place in a new 1,800 square foot space at 2131 7th Ave in Seattle.

It all starts with an app…Amazon Go. You “check in” via the app when you walk in the store. Using a combination of sensor (fusion), computer vision and deep learning, the smart shelves track what’s removed and returned creating a virtual cart of sorts. When the shopper is finished, they…wait for it…just leave. There is no check stand, register, or clerk waiting to take your money. The app charges your account and sends you a receipt.

Brilliant.

In a statement, Amazon explained the inspiration for Amazon Go:

Four years ago we asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go?

Our answer to those questions is Amazon Go and Just Walk Out Shopping.

At the moment, the store is open to employees only. But it’s just a matter of time until it, or something like it, opens to the public. Make no mistake, analysts and strategists everywhere are now forced to rethink the future of retail from a new perspective…starting with adapting customer experiences to connected consumerism. Retail now has a new normal.

It’s smart brick-and-mortar retail fused with Amazon Prime built upon a new perspective for physical and virtual space all with the frictionless transaction model of Uber. All it takes to re-imagine the future of retail is to explore the experiences consumers love outside of the industry. Then and only then, can you balance iteration with innovation. As Steve Jobs once famously said, “Start with the customer experience and work backwards from there.”

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Please read X, The Experience When Business Meets Design or visit my previous publications

Connect with Brian!

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

Invite him to speak at your next event or meeting. 

The post E-Commerce and Apps Pave the Way To The Future of Retail: Inside Amazon Go, A New Retail Experience appeared first on Brian Solis.


Brian Solis

What CMOs Must Get Right In 2017 To Succeed as an ‘Experience Business’

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Like clockwork, every December, experts voice their predictions and advice to guide us in the coming year. Sometimes I offer my thoughts. Mostly, I spend my time curating emerging and disruptive technology trends. This year however, my dear friend Giselle Abramovich with CMO.com, reached out with an exceptional question and I couldn’t resist…especially since the answer was limited to 25 words.

Digital transformation and becoming a “customer experience business” is clearly the future for marketing. What is the one thing CMOs must get right in 2017 to make that happen?

I wanted to share the answer with you here :

“Customer experience is just that—what customers actually experience. CMOs must act less like executives or marketers to design meaningful, shareable, and unforgettable experiences that matter to real people, not just shareholders, in every moment of truth.” – Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter, a Prophet company; Author, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design

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Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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Please read X, The Experience When Business Meets Design or visit my previous publications

Connect with Brian!

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

Invite him to speak at your next event or meeting. 

The post What CMOs Must Get Right In 2017 To Succeed as an ‘Experience Business’ appeared first on Brian Solis.


Brian Solis

It’s Time to Change How Companies Perceive Customer Experience (CX) – Part 1

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Last year, I spent time with Mark Johnson, CEO and CMO of Loyalty360, to discuss all things Customer Experience (CX). The conversation was so rich, it resulted into a two-part series exclusively for the Loyalty360 community. Now however, I’ve been given the green light to share the conversation (parts 1 and 2) with you here.

Part 1 – This is the Year of Customer Experience

If you ask 100 executives what customer experience means to them, you would likely get 100 different answers. The need to define CX is compounded by the fact that modern customers expect the very best customer experience from their favorite brands, but not even these shoppers are sure what exactly that experience might entail.

In his literary works, including the latest X: Where Business Meets Design, Altimeter Group’s Principal Analyst Brian Solis examines what constitutes the core of customer experience, and how companies can make a cultural shift to become more customer-centric. Loyalty360 sat down with Solis to discuss his findings.

Mark Johnson, Loyalty360: There’s been discussion in recent years about what exactly customer experience means, how it can be achieved, and what kind of impact can it have on businesses. In your mind, how can we define customer experience?

Solis: The whole concept of customer experience, even down to its basic definition, has been essentially up for interpretation. The interesting thing is that we see perspectives on CX change based on the problem being fixed.

I think in order to truly define customer experience, we need to embrace the fact that customers are different now than previous generation. Because of the prevalence of digital media in their lives, they’ve completely upended the customer journey as we know it. What was once a continuous journey through the shopping experience is now a series of micro-moments.

In other words, to define CX we need to reframe the conversation to face challenges in a way that’s innovative rather than iterative.

The marketing paradigm has traditionally been very top-down and autocratic in the past; do you see changing this paradigm as a real challenge for marketers?

Solis: There needs to be a fundamental change in the structure of people who work on CX within an organization. Some of it can be summed up in a favorite joke of mine: “I tried to be creative, but I ended up stuck in meetings all day.”

In most cases, customer experience is driven by separate departments; they’re not collaborating with one another and by default, they’re contributing to a disjointed customer experience. While each group may be striving to do its best, CX is measured by the sum of its parts. Without collaboration, it can never be truly connected and holistic. Customers don’t see departments, they see an individual brand. That is so important as a marketer, and that’s why we’re seeing so much disruption now as companies like Amazon and Uber provide customer experience in ways we’ve never seen before.

What are some of the challenges you see with these disparate data sources, and being able to piece together these valuable data points?

Solis: As in anything, I think the biggest challenge is looking at how the organization thinks about the customer today, and finding friction points on which to focus data sets. I would use these friction points to spark discussions about who is steering the company’s customer experience efforts.

Most friction points fall within a grey area of responsibility. They occur when an issue falls into a space not completely covered by team responsibilities. I see this creating an opportunity for a new role within organizations that serves as a lynchpin for all experience-related concerns.

We often hear terms like “corporate commitment” and “organizational buy-in” when it comes to creating a customer-centric culture within a company. What have you seen in terms of these challenges?

Solis: In the past several years, I’ve really begun to start taking a hard look at culture. The reason for that is because I see innovation in pockets rather than a way of business and ask why companies are more innovative than others, and the answer often comes down to culture. Culture, like CX, is often hard to define, but what I see over and over again is that important cultural pillars such as employee engagement and leadership are not receiving enough attention or investment from the company.

Culture is massive, but what I’ve also learned is that if you’re waiting for someone to come along and tell you how to change or improve culture or anything, you’re on the wrong side of innovation. If, however, you think you can take it on and create real impact from within, even though it’s not your job, then you’re the right person for the job; change can come from anywhere in the company, from any level of the organization.

A lot of companies may think that they’re affecting culture and impacting employees in a positive way, but actually aren’t. How do you think these brands can pinpoint where they are in terms of culture and employee engagement?

Solis: Many executives simply don’t want or know to prioritize have the culture conversation. Most leaders want everything tied to performance, because that’s a tangible metric they can use for comparison, but it’s a rare gift when they peel back layers to get to the core of why things are (or aren’t) happening. If morale is low, the question becomes: how can we talk about innovation if we can’t take care of the culture and the people responsible for it?

I call this “the engagement gap.” When I’ve studied culture, I cast a company-wide survey about employee engagement practices. What I’ve found is that there’s a significant gap between where executives think employee engagement is, and where it is in reality. It’s a big eye-opener for companies that are investing in things like technology, journey mapping, and digital transformation, but aren’t thinking enough about the employee experience and getting people onboard and engaged to be genuine, empowered brand ambassadors.

We sometimes hear companies talk in buzzwords and acronyms, without necessarily showing that they fully understand the impact behind them, how have you observed this trend in your studies?

Without saying anything negative about things like NPS, CSAT, etc., I will say this: I’ve definitely seen executives set goals based on these metrics simply because increasing these measurements look good to shareholders and stakeholders. They do this, however, without a complete understanding of today’s customer. With how connected we are becoming and how the journey, behavior, expectations, values, etc. are changing, the NPS could evolve from “Would you recommend us?” to “Did you recommend us?”  The proliferation of social sharing or just the publishing of experiences online is changing the marketing landscape, and companies need to change the way they look at metrics and what it means to the new customer journey.

The reason that innovation is difficult is because we tend to look at the future wearing a lens colored with the past. If I walked into a room of executives and had a conversation about what customers like about the company, what they don’t like about the company, and how the company can drive millions of dollars of new revenue, I don’t think a single one would say no to that kind of information. The problem is that to get to that conversation, you need to wade through a mire of politics and risk aversion in order to let go of the way things are and were.

It’s time to move forward.

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Please read X, The Experience When Business Meets Design or visit my previous publications

Connect with Brian!

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

Invite him to speak at your next event or meeting.

About Mark Johnson

Mark is CEO & CMO of Loyalty360. He has significant experience in selling, designing and administering prepaid, loyalty/CRM programs, as well as data-driven marketing communication programs.

Photo Credit: FastCoDesign

The post It’s Time to Change How Companies Perceive Customer Experience (CX) – Part 1 appeared first on Brian Solis.


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