The pandemic changed the structure of everything we experience: how and what we buy, when and where we work, the ways we interact and engage with community. It has also made us deeply aware of what’s working, what’s relevant and what’s possible.
There is a sharp new focus on products, services and brands and their role in the lives of customers and employees alike. Our research found nearly 80 percent of CEOs see the need to fundamentally change how they engage with and create value for customers.
It is easy to understand that in this context Customer Experience (CX) — the optimization of marketing, sales and service touchpoints to serve and retain customers — is arguably more important now than ever. Yet Forrester tells us return on CX investments has become stagnant for 81% of brands. And our research actually shows that the more a company focuses on CX as a standalone objective, the less likely it is to achieve sustained growth.
CX fundamentals are now commonplace, even expected, and differentiation requires more. If customer expectations are rapidly changing and CX is no longer the pathway to growth, what is?
Make Experience Your Business
The reality is that in many organizations, CX is implemented as glitter – a slick website, clever social media, purpose-washed marketing – but disconnected from human needs, customers are still left wanting. The new pathway to growth requires an evolution to the Business of Experience (BX), where human needs actually inform every facet and function of business, bringing the entire organization to focus on finding and fulfilling their customers’ unmet needs. BX thinking strengthens the fabric of the organization and makes customer needs a top priority across the entire C-suite. This bold executive mindset shift starts with the CEO and taps into every leader inside front- and back-office functions. Interestingly, while CMOs or CXOs have “owned” CX in the past, CEOs are now at the experience helm in BX organizations.
BX leaders understand that improving experience improves lives and, in turn, improves business as measured by traditional metrics like profitability and revenue. The realities and challenges inherent in global pandemic have forced businesses to understand their customers and their employees in a way they never had before and to deliver experiences that respond to unmet needs. The result is stalwart marketplace durability, not just momentary optimization.
And it pays off: BX organizations’ profitability growth outpaces industry peers by six times. Ultimately, BX provides a pathway to growth and the opportunity to define a new category of industry leadership.
Anatomy of the CX – BX Shift
What makes BX more than a rebrand of CX? As the top-down focus fundamentally shifts from profitability to customers’ needs and experience, the rest of the organization’s functions pivot in service of the customer, too.
|CX mentality||BX focus|
|CEO||Maximize profitability.||Profit from purpose + experience.|
|Marketing and Brand||Make people want things.||Make things people want.|
|Sales||Focus on the products the company wants to sell.||Focus on the outcome the customer wants.|
|Product Development||Make products easy to use.||Make products that continually adapt to how customers use them.|
|Talent||Use traditional metrics based on employee performance within a function (onboarding, annual reviews, etc.)||Incentivize behaviors that drive better customer outcomes.|
|Tech and Data||Enable business processes at greater scale.||Enable customer-centricity with greater consistency, at scale.|
|Operations||Provide internal efficiency for the company.||Provide efficiency for the customer.|
|Supply Chain||Deliver products and goods through traditional channels.||Deliver products and services when and where people want them.|
Becoming a Business of Experience
By unlocking sustainable growth in the experience renaissance, BX organizations outperform their peers. Their single core commonality? Customer-obsessed reimagination of their business model. These companies are delivering on experience with the entirety of their business, addressing people’s needs and values through experience innovation at every level. Experience is inextricably tied to profit, owned by the CEO, and disseminated throughout the entire organization. Here’s how that comes to life:
• Customer needs are your compass: Customer needs will continue to evolve. Therefore, invest in ways to discover unmet needs, both big and small, by translating data and insights into actions.
• Experience innovation is an everyday habit: An experience innovation culture asks you to close the gap between your brand promise and the experiences you deliver by changing not just what you say, but how your entire organization behaves in service of the customer.
• Customer experience is everyone’s job: Every person and every part of the business should be interconnected and collaborative, functioning as one cohesive, customer-obsessed unit, with delivering the best possible experience as its north star. Make sure that the invoices you are sending your customers have the right template, like a dj invoice template, for a professional looking bill.
• The tech, data and human agendas are aligned: As the experiences you deliver continue to evolve, the need to build flexibility into your systems and processes has never been greater. You can only enable customer-centricity at greater scale if you integrate technologies, tools, data and processes.
The Time is Now
We are in a renaissance, where all experiences need to be reimagined. This era demands a new level of customer obsession and rapid innovation. This is the route to meaningful disruption, market differentiation and sustainable growth. Without question, the core tenets of BX will become the gold standard.
BX leaders provide their customers with not only better products and services, but arguably, better lives. BX-minded execs are already seeing sustained growth, boldly reimagining business and operating models to become indispensable in everyday lives. Along with the challenges of a global pandemic, we’ve been given a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset and rewire around people and their needs.
The pandemic has also given organizations – even the biggest household names – a permission slip to completely reimagine how they do business. There’s never been a better time to embrace the business of experience.