Do not let a brilliant soloist handle your customer experience

The brand is what remains when the expe­ri­ence has failed. In oth­er words: when the cus­tomer doesn’t expe­ri­ence any­thing, we try to force our­selves on him inap­pro­pri­ate­ly. In 2016, your brand allows you to sur­vive but doesn’t mea­sure up against the heavy­weights of experience.

A brand which isn’t an expe­ri­ence will become a con­ve­nience, a con­so­la­tion prize, unable to retain a customer.

But the notion of expe­ri­ence is too hack­neyed. For many, expe­ri­ence isn’t more than a “wow” effect, a one shot to cre­ate buzz. Most often on the web because it is cheap­er to shine there than in the phys­i­cal world. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion doesn’t replace the prod­uct and can’t be the Vase­line that allows to pass a failed prod­uct or a deplorable ser­vice on.

Expe­ri­ence isn’t a large fire­works but more of a sparks con­cert that will punc­tu­ate the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence at every touch point. The con­cept of touch point is essen­tial: for the cus­tomer, the jour­ney is unique, indi­vis­i­ble. On the con­trary, every touch point has its own­er depend­ing on the stage of the jour­ney, and the cus­tomer knowl­edge that lets you cus­tomize the expe­ri­ence is frag­ment­ed in these silos.

While each actor in the com­pa­ny make sure to mark out its pow­er zone by slic­ing up both the cus­tomer and the expe­ri­ence, it can be very dif­fi­cult for the lat­ter to see his jour­ney turned into an obsta­cle course (not to men­tion to be con­sid­ered fool­ish). Inter­nal silos cre­ate fric­tion along its path and pre­vent to know the cus­tomer com­plete­ly, even though he con­sid­ers him­self as a “mar­ket of one” and wants to be rec­og­nized as a unique indi­vid­ual. Each point of fric­tion is a chance of los­ing the cus­tomer, and a good expe­ri­ence should aim to elim­i­nate friction.

Jour­ney and touch points must then be man­aged consistently:

- For an effi­cient acqui­si­tion and reten­tion strat­e­gy. The expe­ri­ence cre­ates the pref­er­ence, the pref­er­ence turns your cus­tomers into ambas­sadors and make them loy­al. Expe­ri­ence lead­ers (Apple, Ama­zon etc) have min­i­mal mar­ket­ing costs com­pared to their com­peti­tors, and yet their cus­tomers are the most loy­al and engaged. A good “end to end” expe­ri­ence isn’t a cost but an invest­ment with a high ROI. When 51% of cus­tomers who leave a brand do so because of a bad expe­ri­ence, each touch point is cru­cial. On the con­trary, poor or inco­her­ent expe­ri­ence cre­ates a debt: it is then nec­es­sary to con­stant­ly recre­ate affec­tion, to recap­ture the cus­tomer with­out being able to cap­i­tal­ize on the past.

- For the store to no longer be the poor rela­tion of the dig­i­tal, where all online efforts are destroyed.

-To effec­tive­ly man­age com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mar­ket­ing in a world where the image of a com­pa­ny isn’t what it is show­ing, but what is said about it, name­ly the gap between the promise and the expe­ri­ence. Hence the need for con­sis­ten­cy across the cus­tomer journey.

- To bet­ter man­age the pres­sure. Every touch point is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to re-engage with the cus­tomer but if every­one puts on them­selves max­i­mum pres­sure on their touch point, we then obtain a worn out and ter­ror­ized cus­tomer who dreams only of one thing: escaping!

-To think about the over­all expe­ri­ence as soon as the prod­uct is designed, in order for it to be both the object and the vehi­cle of this expe­ri­ence. It is bet­ter to enhance a suc­cess­ful prod­uct, con­ceived fol­low­ing an “expe­ri­ence by design” log­ic, rather than paper­ing over the cracks lat­er with communication.

-To empow­er employ­ees, because they are part of this expe­ri­ence. They won’t make the cus­tomer live some­thing that they weren’t trained or equipped to give, that is only a con­cept because they do not expe­ri­ence it them­selves inter­nal­ly. No employ­ee expe­ri­ence, no cus­tomer experience.

In order to obtain real eco­nom­ic val­ue from the expe­ri­ence, a com­pa­ny has make every­body work­ing togeth­er: the prod­uct team, mar­ket­ing, ser­vices, R & D, IT, HR. This is the dif­fer­ence between build­ing and appear­ance, and today the chal­lenge is to build. Let every­one cre­ate its own wow effect in a cor­ner, and the cus­tomer will quick­ly feel like he has been tricked.

A suc­cess­ful expe­ri­ence requires more than cre­ative genius: it is the result of a real coop­er­a­tion and of a new way of work­ing togeth­er around the cus­tomer. There’s a good rea­son we now see Chief Expe­ri­ence Offi­cer appear­ing. Unlike the Chief Dig­i­tal Offi­cer, his job is to man­age val­ue, to devel­op and pro­mote emo­tion­al cap­i­tal to the cus­tomer, to give mean­ing to the set­ting in motion of the com­pa­ny. He is the own­er of the only play­ground able to make peo­ple play as a team and to break inter­nal walls.

In short, if you aren’t an expe­ri­ence, soon you won’t be a brand any­more, and your acqui­si­tion strat­e­gy will be summed up in one word: chance.