In the commercial world, the focus on customer experience has evolved into something new: the business of experience. So what’s the difference between the two? The shift in emphasis is best expressed as a focus on organisational purpose as distinct from its ease of use. Take one example: Venmo. This digital business brands itself as providing fast, safe, social payments. The experience it provides is an efficient payment app that enables people to quickly transfer funds between one another. But the business was formed for the purpose of social interaction. Accordingly, it reimagines payments to enable social interaction, for example, birthday greetings, billing information and activity information. The interactions are intended to facilitate more than just payments. They fulfil Venmo’s purpose of helping build relationships in the context of payment activity.  

Contrast this with a recent experience I heard about. A colleague was fined for failing to complete a tax return that they did not, in fact, need to file. The tax agency in question contacted her at an old address. In parallel, she was unable to access the digital identity processes of the agency to make contact and understand the implications of moving from self-employed to employed. It turns out that as an employee, her tax obligations were indeed up to date and no return was required. However, the tax agency’s processes expected a tax return and so a fine was levied. 

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The concept of the business of experience is new. It requires a shift in mindset from making a change in response to an identified need (customer experience) to continuously innovating around that experience.

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Asking more fundamental questions  

From a customer experience perspective, there are various aspects of this interaction that could be improved such as address change, ease of identification and so on. But taking a business of experience standpoint poses much more fundamental questions: why is a tax return needed and how can we achieve our purposes more effectively as a tax agency for this customer?    

Those questions about purpose signal a profound shift in approach. But it’s becoming increasingly relevant for tax agencies. Indeed, the recent Tax Agency 3.0 report by the OECD points to the need for a fundamental reassessment of purpose in looking at tax administration.   

Four steps to the business of experience  

What do agencies need to pay attention to in order to understand how they can adapt purpose and the business of experience for their own organisation and operations? Accenture has identified four key steps:   

  1. Obsess about customer needs and use them as the compass to guide further developments in providing the right experience.  
  2. Make experience innovation an everyday habit in order to match taxpayers’ continually evolving needs, expectations, and capabilities.  
  3. Expand the experience remit across the organisation. This requires agencies to address their purpose at a more fundamental level to meet the ambitions of business experience.
  4. Synchronise the tech, data and human agenda. This holds true for business experience just as it does for customer experience.  
A mindset shift – from the top  

The concept of the business of experience is new. It requires a shift in mindset from making a change in response to an identified need (customer experience) to continuously innovating around that experience. From a governance point of view, expanding the experience mindset across the whole organisation requires a more profound development that enables people to ask fundamental questions about purpose. That means working both broader and deeper to effect change. It’s a shift that needs to be driven from the top.    

What would the business of experience look like in your agency? Please do get in touch to discuss any of the ideas highlighted here.

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David Regan

Managing Director – Consulting, Revenue Lead

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