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For many years we’ve talked about the importance of customer experience (CX). This has now evolved to business of experience (BX). But what exactly is the business of experience?

Business of experience moves companies beyond simply customer experience touchpoints to change across the entire company—from the C-Suite to operations—working together to deliver meaningful, authentic experiences. It’s about solving for human needs around a purpose. Where CX touches just a few pieces of the business (customer relationship management, front-end technologies, channel optimization, and marketing), BX includes those elements and others, such as business revenue impact, products and services, and the employee experience.

Before and after the pandemic

Pre-COVID, companies were already feeling the pressure on how to engage with customers in the new digital and social economy—especially as these customers compare them with customer experience pioneers, such as Uber and Amazon. The pandemic has made BX a topmost priority.

Our research among 1,500 global CEOs showed nearly 80% saying they would fundamentally change how they interact and build relationships with their customers—rethinking internal processes and operating models, not just customer experience touchpoints.

Post-COVID, every single experience has changed—how and what people buy, how and where they work, how they interact with others. These behaviors are here to stay. And it’s not just retailers and restaurants. Mobile payment services, for example, are changing. Companies like Venmo allow people to exchange money easily, even if they are not part of the same financial institution, without having to handle cash.

Still, BX is a very fresh concept. And that’s good news. There’s a vast opportunity to redefine how you’re thought of by your customers. You have the chance to create new meaningful experiences for your customers and your employees. This experience-led approach is what we mean by the business of experience. Companies that focus their entire organization—from the C-suite down—on delivering exceptional customer experiences outperform their peers year over year.

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Companies that focus their entire organization around delivering exceptional experiences outperform their peers year on year. When CX is treated superficially as an app or a new website, that's when you get superficial returns.  

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Beyond the superficial

It’s not just about naming a VP of Customer Experience or kicking off a CX workstream. When CX is treated superficially as an app or a new website, you’ll see only superficial returns. We’ve had CEOs tell us they lack clarity on the ROI of CX. BX and delivering meaningful experiences are a boardroom’s concern. It ties back to every aspect of a company’s operations. Successful BX is about the following principles:

  1. Launching any new product, business or service with an understanding of the customers’ needs and pain points
  2. Gaining the ability to launch new services quickly
  3. Learning and adapting a product or business based on measurement and feedback.

Emerging stronger

Today, every company on the planet is seeking ways to manage its way through economic and health crises. They want to emerge not only stronger but prepared to compete in the challenging decade ahead of us. Every company must examine and shape its business to find new ways to offer meaningful experiences to customers.

Similarly, today brands face intense pressure to stand for something bigger than their products and services themselves. This demand for purpose has been growing for years but recent global events have accelerated the situation. Today, 80% of consumers say company purpose is as important to them as CX.

Several global companies are doing BX well. Shipper DHL, for example, is picking up returns for Dutch grocer Picnic. Picnic receives a commission fee for every package DHL picks up. Nike has always been a leader in this space. It spends a significant amount of time aligning its various business units to create a differentiated experience across physical and digital.

The success of these companies at creating a true business of experience demonstrates that the speed at which enterprises move is critical. For example, it should take weeks, not months to launch a loyalty program. It also takes a sense of fearlessness to do BX right—taking risks should be imbued in the corporate culture.

The question now is how to start implementing BX. We see four important steps:

  1. Put customers first in every decision. This means going beyond customer surveys and focus groups to confirm what you already know, and using ethnographic research, customer shadowing, and understanding their behaviors, to uncover their unmet needs. This can stretch a company into new categories and new growth.
  2. Make innovation an everyday habit. Launch new services and capabilities frequently and quickly. You don’t want to damage brand equity, but you can manage risk by testing new services quickly, learn and then adapt the service. For example, many companies were able to launch curbside pickup during the pandemic and improve the service quickly with feedback.
  3. Expand the experience across the organization. It’s everybody’s responsibility to ensure customer experience is a priority and results are tracked —from the C-suite down.
  4. Synch the tech, data and human agenda. Successful companies are taking steps to reimagine their business and operating models to align technology, data and talent into one unit focused on the customer experience and direct business revenue.

Consumers want to feel more human, and less like numbers. Even through automation, ensure you’re providing a truly human experience. Focus on customers’ digital journey, their unmet needs, and opening them to more choice. And then you can be a business of experience.  

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Jags Sahota

Lead – Experience Transformation, Accenture Interactive Canada

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