In the digital era, customer experience has been a dominant strategy for growth for many companies. However, with ever-increasing customer expectations, delivering a brilliant experience is simply not good enough anymore to maintain sustainable growth.

In our iconic Technology Vision report, we’ve observed a ‘tech-clash’ in consumer perception. Not a ‘tech-lash’—a pushback against the latest technology, as some people claim—but an embrace of technology, a surge in expectations, and a search for more ownership and collaboration.

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In ‘the I in Experience trend’, we see that the more a company focuses on CX alone, the less likely it is to achieve the highest levels of sustained growth. As much as 81 percent of brands experienced growth stagnation in their CX scores.

While delivering a great experience will still get you a long way, consumers are looking for more: a purposeful interaction. It’s not that consumers want less customization; they just seek more ownership. Rather than just being on the receiving end of the experience, customers are looking for companies that view them as partners.

This is an exciting new opportunity for your business. Reimagine your business and operating models to solve your customers’ needs and become a natural and permanent part of their lives. Let us show you how.

Stand tall to stand out

To start your experience change, you’ll need to stand for something bigger than the actual products and services you sell to your customers. Take the lead in this: to inspire, set new standards, have a clear purpose, evoke emotion, and stress your commitment to values close to your business.

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Consumers expect brands to align with their own values, like sustainability, equality, transparency, and fair employment practices. In fact, if you don’t take a stand on important societal issues, 47 percent of consumers will walk away from the brand in frustration with 17 percent never coming back.

A good example of a company acting upon its brand values is Schneider Electric. To align its values and operations, the company is now rapidly replacing its entire fleet with electronic vehicles as they stand for sustainability.

Aligning your whole company with your desired changes

The products or services your company offers should be designed and built for increasing customer value. When you use the changes in customer needs as input for your R&D, marketing, and supply chain, you can innovate and adapt your organization to act. And even change the organizational structure based on customer value. Remember, this is a continuous and agile process as customer demands are constantly changing.

An important first step is to transition to an experience-led brand and think about the total customer experience. Align your business processes and employees with this experience focus. To go beyond marketing, sales, and service, employees must be highly engaged and inspired by purpose.

Training your employees will help them deal with liquid customer demands and help them get an integrated view of customer interactions so they can improve their customer focus in daily operations.

In the video below, we explain how companies are moving from an experience provider to an experience collaborator, giving customers control over what they want and how they want to experience it.

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Tech Vision 2020: The I in Experience

Helping people choose their own adventure. View now. 

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Personalization versus ownership

Even if your organization is all set, you will not meet your customers’ expectations when your technology is not up-to-par. Technology can make or break experiences. Invest in digital solutions that drive speed and agility. That sounds like an open door, but it requires critical thinking to identify where technology can support your company in bringing purpose and enable you to deliver better and more relevant experiences.

Demand for personalization is high. 67 percent of consumers believe it’s important for companies to automatically customize content based on a person’s current context. What’s more, 42 percent even said that content that’s not personalized annoys them.

In that same context, we know that consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations based on real-time customer data. Research has even shown that 1 out of 3 consumers will stop buying from companies when their experience is not personalized.

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73%

of consumers are willing to share more personal information if brands are transparent about how it’s used.

66%

of consumers report they are just as concerned about the commercial use of their personal data and online identity for personalization purposes as they are about security threats and hackers.

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What’s more, 73 percent of consumers are willing to share more personal information if brands are transparent about how it’s used. Though it's also worth noting that 66 percent of consumers report they are just as concerned about the commercial use of their personal data and online identity for personalization purposes as they are about security threats and hackers.

These figures show that people are concerned about the methods businesses use to get there. That is exactly what the first Tech Vision 2020 trend is all about. People want customized experiences, but they don’t want their experiences overly determined for them without their knowledge. They want ownership; they want an experience that has been created with them, not for them. That’s why you’ll need to find the right balance between personalization and preserving the trust of your customers.

By giving customers the ability to make relevant choices that inform their experiences, companies share control over the experience with their customers, with Netflix’ Black Mirror as a clear example. This is an option to make customers become active participants in a cooperative, purposeful experience, which will result in loyal customers with whom you’ll establish a long-term relationship.

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"Consumers want ownership; they want an experience that has been created with them, not for them.”

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Dutch Flower Group: acting upon customer demand

Changing your business to become an experience-led brand is a daunting task. Let us show you a real-life example from our work at Dutch Flower Group (DFG).

True to the Netherlands’ worldwide reputation of being a flower grower and exporter, Dutch Flower Group is a global market leader in the floriculture industry. They house 33 specialized trading companies including six floral wholesale brands. On any given week, DFG could have some 75 million flowers, 10 million bouquets, and 10 million plants in circulation across the globe.

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Serving changing customer demand

The challenge was clear: finding a solid e-commerce platform to handle this sheer volume of new products and prices on a daily basis. On top of this, DFG wanted to continue providing an exceptional customer experience—one that was both personalized and allowed all individual floral wholesale companies to maintain, customize and control their brand identity on their separate websites and assortments for their customers.

Dutch Flower Group CIO Michel van Hout explains that the platform was intended to offer “the best online capabilities to serve our clients and the clients of our clients. Those are needed to make our growth targets a reality.”

The goal was to increase DFG’s online sales and market share by creating a shared trading platform that offers its six companies a personalized customer experience, improved B2B2B functionalities, and customer acquisition.

“The biggest challenge in this project was to connect six individual DFG companies with their own customer focus, their own identity, to one solution and to put the customer first,” Peter van Os, responsible for Digital Sales, says about DFG’s online proposition transformation.

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Dutch Flower Group Case Study

A digital platform with exceptional, personalized customer experience so business continues to bloom. When an opportunity sprouted up for Dutch Flower Group (DFG) to fortify their online channel’s technical capabilities, they acted quickly. This is how we helped. 

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A personalized experience for all customers

As DFG’s customers are located in 100 countries, the online experience is vital for the company’s business. Offering personalized assortments for all their customers on a large scale was a formidable task. To solve that challenge, we created a flexible product model that automates the process of creating product data based on flower and plant lots with matching attributes

“Our new platform firstly makes sure that all orders that still come in through mail and phone nowadays will end up in the system,” Van Hout explains. “Secondly, we now make full use of the cross and upsell possibilities that are part of the new system.”

The integration with SAP Commerce Cloud—in this case—ensured that flowers and plants that are procured at the auction can be sold to customers all over the world within a few minutes.

As the flowers and plants are cultivated and sold all over the world, the supply chain was orchestrated within the trading platform. DFG can now create a personalized assortment for every customer and guarantee the products that show on the storefront for delivery on the selected arrival date, from any grower to any customer anywhere in the world.

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A new benchmark in the floriculture world

The new online proposition meant an increase in value for customers by shifting from a lot-oriented to a product-oriented shop. This was achieved by simplifying the search and order process, and creating more relevant product recommendations. With this platform, a new benchmark is set in the floriculture industry.

“The result is a new daily catalog containing tens of thousands of products from which customers in more than a hundred countries can buy on more than 20 websites,” Van Os highlights.  This includes sub-label and white-label webshops for B2B2B customers. They can easily navigate through all different product categories that show them a personalized offering, manage the available assortment, and set the correct price margins.

With the sales process shifting from offline to online, account managers now have more time to help customers with specialized suggestions, build better relationships, and spend less time entering orders.

According to Van Hout, “the combination of customer centricity, technological knowledge and expertise from our industry ensured that we’ve created something beautiful for our clients.” And that’s supported by the strong boost for digital growth the platform gives. The Dutch Flower Group customers are placing up to 25 percent more orders on the new platform, resulting in a 10 percent growth in average order value. 

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85%

of executives agree that to compete in a post-digital world, organizations need to elevate their relationships with customers as partners.

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Every brand needs to be an experience brand

Now more than ever, you need to organize your business with agility to follow the customer where they want to go in their experience journey. New experience models that increase user participation will get you there. Luckily, new technologies that are available today can help businesses transition to a cooperative experience and become a true partner to the customer. This will increasingly become a driver for success.

Fortunately, 85 percent of executives agree that to compete in a post-digital world, organizations need to elevate their relationships with customers as partners. To do that, you’ll need to move from a CX-led brand to an experience-led brand, where company values and promises are translated into new products and authentic services. And make sure that customers have shared control over their experience.

Within leading companies, you’ll find that employees are highly engaged and inspired by purpose. And the commitment to innovate activates a sense of purpose for customers, as the innovation is focused on customer value.

Consumers are looking for more than a brilliant experience. They look for a purposeful interaction with a brand that acts as a partner with them to create experiences together. This results in a uniquely differentiated experience that fulfills your customers’ needs and expectations. Ready to broaden your own experience?

Mehmet Olmez

Managing Director Interactive, Commerce Lead EALA

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