When have you had a great experience with a company?

Maybe it was when you sought to make a complicated change to your airline ticket, and the process turned out to be much more straightforward than you’d instinctively feared. Or maybe it was when you needed to understand an essential nuance about your company’s cloud usage – and the provider’s online tools and chatbot proved to be intuitive and informative.

These kinds of great experiences are essential, and indeed, will remain so. From a business standpoint, this is about optimizing touchpoints with customers across marketing, sales and service channels – ensuring that customers are engaged at the right times in the right ways. It’s at the heart of what’s usually referred to as a customer experience (CX) strategy.

Now, here’s another question: When was the last time you were blown away by an experience with a company?

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Maybe, when you were looking into the possibility of adding a skylight to your attic, you came across a company called Velux. You would have been excited to download an augmented-reality app that lets you see how their many styles of skylights would look in different locations on your ceiling. It’s a new, innovative and convenient way for a homeowner to scope and visualize a home improvement project – and engage with a manufacturing brand that typically would have little more than a brochure-style website.

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When was the last time you were blown away by an experience with a company?

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What our research uncovered is that today’s top growth companies are thinking about experience in ways that go beyond CX alone.

Instead (or, I should say, in addition), they’re putting experience at the heart of what the company does – what the business stands for, how it operates and innovates, how it solves customers’ needs. And they make sure it’s the focus across the entire enterprise, beyond just marketing, sales and service functions. We call this the Business of Experience (BX).

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Why BX and why now? Best Buy has an answer

BX companies design their entire business through the lens of experience to give customers what they need.

Take Best Buy. While many retailers in the COVID-19 pandemic moved to implement curbside pickup, Best Buy went further, bringing together product development, sales and operations teams to rapidly redesign the way customers experienced the business. Across its 1,400 stores, the company implemented a system to prioritize orders based on customer proximity to the store, simplify customer verification at curbside, enable friend and family pickup options, and expand pickup locations beyond stores to also include Best Buy warehouses. Even while the stores were closed, customers could still access the essential technology they needed in a safe and convenient way.

Embracing BX: What the research shows

When we hit the field with our survey of 1,555 executives (a quarter of them CEOs) from 22 industries and 21 countries, we wanted to understand how these business leaders thought about their customers’ experiences and how their companies’ capabilities contributed to experience and business outcomes. Of note, three things, in my mind, stood out about BX in the research we conducted.

1. BX companies outgrow and outperform

When we looked at which companies were achieving the strongest growth, and which companies were ahead of their peers in taking a BX approach, we were surprised to find just how strong the relationship was.

The top 20% of companies achieving the most robust and sustained growth results were often twice as likely as their peers to be adept at the kinds of capabilities we consider to be the backbone of BX. Though correlation doesn’t imply causation, it’s rare in research to be able to find such intriguing evidence for the importance of an emerging business imperative.

2. The two critical ingredients are human empathy and customer obsession

Customers — real human beings — don’t want to think about themselves as in the process of being “engaged,” “targeted,” “acquired,” “converted” or “retained” – some of the typical metrics by which CX strategies are judged. What do they want? They want their needs to be met and their problems to be solved.

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BX doesn’t just happen. It’s a cultural shift that’s both nurtured and hardwired into an organization.

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Leading companies are getting the message — and acting on it. They’re pivoting their business strategies in response to changing customer needs and values. They are far more likely than their peers to use real-time customer data and insights to inform their innovation ambitions, operations and partnerships. In other words, they’re actively looking to solve for the customer. That’s far different from businesses that see customer data as simply the lifeblood of marketing, sales and service functions.

3. To get everyone on the same page, BX starts at the top

BX changes the conversation. It’s based on an assertion that some of the most important ways through which a customer experiences a brand derives not just from CX touchpoints but rather also — and in some cases, primarily — from the business itself. For example, how the company earns its profits, how it operates, how it innovates, how it takes care of its workforce, how it articulates and lives up to its values. It moves the conversation about experience from the narrower purview of marketing, sales and service into a broader C-suite imperative.

BX companies are more than twice as likely as their peers (57% to 25%) to say they infuse customer experience thinking at all levels across their organizations. They are also twice as likely (57% to 26%) to say that they link performance reviews, compensation and bonuses to customer experience outcomes.

What this means: BX doesn’t just happen. It’s a cultural shift that’s both nurtured and hardwired into an organization. Is it easy? No. But our research shows that it’s increasingly essential.

Josh Bellin

Senior Principal – Accenture Research​

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