This article was co-authored by Dave Cowing, VP, Global Experience Leader
As we enter the next phase of the experience economy, converging market forces and digital proliferation are changing end user expectations and the way that businesses must think and act. Those that consider experience as the north star for digital transformation will thrive. Others risk becoming obsolete.
Whatever business you’re in, blending human empathy with data insights and creativity is critical. This ensures that you deliver experiences for your customers, partners, and employees that meet the needs of end users and drive business outcomes like revenue, profitability, and market share gains. An experience-led transformation approach helps business and technology leaders look holistically at experience and embed it into the fabric of the enterprise. As a result, teams can align around a user-centric vision that maps to business goals—and avoid investing in technology for technology’s sake.
Below are five principles that many of our global Fortune 500 clients are applying to their businesses to drive successful experience-led transformations. These can help guide your organization in 2020:
- Know your audience: While it may sound counter-intuitive, assuming that you don't know your customers, employees, or partners is a good place to start for successful experience-led transformations. Too often, leaders think they know what their end users want – only to find surprises after applying a rigorous blend of both qualitative and quantitative research. This process helps organizations identify what makes end users tick in their day-to-day environments. Creating personas—realistic, contextual profiles based on comprehensive data insights—can help. A standardized persona process allows a broader set of teams to more easily spot the needs, preferences, and expectations of end users across all touchpoints, channels, and devices.
Consider one developer of analytical solutions, software, and services for scientists. We helped the client put this practice into action through experience-led transformation. We combined user research, persona development, and customer journey maps to help the organization’s employees spot customer pain points, develop new products and services that anticipate user needs, and develop stronger customer relationships and brand differentiation.
- Be business, versus technology, led: Successful experience-led organizations consider transformation through a business lens—and strategies go well beyond technology alone. CNBC reported that organizations spent $1.3 trillion on digital transformations in 2018, only to see 70% of them tank. Be sure to identify and gain alignment around business objectives and vision—using approaches like service design to help bring diverse stakeholders together to reimagine experiences in context of business outcomes. Blueprinting can guide a transformation toward the vision—ensuring well-orchestrated integration of the right emerging technologies—like AI, Automation, and Analytics—at the right time to achieve KPIs and goals at different intervals.
As markets shift, brands need to evolve in context of their business strategies to succeed. For one lifestyle company, evolution involved maintaining the power of its parent brand, while creating a strategic digital redesign that was thoughtfully engineered to facilitate a more sophisticated, fluid, and engaging customer experience. Starting with strategy, we helped them approach the redesign with business goals in mind – and then choose the technical platform to deliver meaningful and personalized experiences and ultimately drive conversion.
- Connect experience to operations: Customers and employees are continuously exposed to your operations, processes, and systems—even though they aren’t visible. Superior experiences should go well beyond the front end—to seamlessly connect to underlying operations. Harnessing the entirety of an enterprise’s operations enables teams to overcome the inertia of legacy and take an experience-led approach across every aspect of the business. In our experience, running a four-step assessment to understand the connection between customer and employee journeys and enterprise operations can be a great way to start. Here, it’s important to look at processes, technologies, people, as well as operating models.
We helped a professional services transform how they work and collaborate internally, specifically by introducing a new digital workspace. By strategically transforming an outdated intranet into a modern digital workspace, the organization’s employee experience now reflects a profoundly new way to share and access knowledge, experiences and insights, providing the organization with a tangible advantage in the market.
- Get employees on board: Change happens from the inside out – and if employees aren’t backing experience-led transformation, it will fall short. The goal is to put employees first so they can put customers first. As CNBC stated, “people aren't the problem; it's the organization's failure to communicate effectively with its people that sets them up for digital transformation trouble from the start."
A leading hedge fund understands that its people are its most important asset. We are working with one client on a multi-year initiative to reinvent the employee experience and drive desired business outcomes. To facilitate engagement and alignment, we started with a service design workshop, which brought multiple stakeholders together from different areas of the business. This helped teams reimagine new ways of working with business goals in mind—through a diverse lens of business, technology, operations, finance, and HR.
- Adopt agile ways of working, measure and optimize: To transform experiences at scale, agile methodologies are critical. Prioritize the pursuit of exceptional experiences over rigid adherence to process. Be sure to embrace technologies and ways of working that drive business value, even if it challenges the status quo. Collaborate, adapt and change as necessary, instead of always sticking to a pre-defined plan. Use sophisticated measurement capabilities that blend data and design—to create a virtual cycle that enables the continuous creation of the ‘next best experience’. In this way, teams can make ongoing improvements and monitor the health of experiences both over time and across organizational layers.
A global biopharmaceutical organization is committed to using emerging technologies to transform lives. We worked with the organization to support their mission of improve the outcomes of traditional therapies by applying mobile and connected technologies. By creating a flexible resource model, they can more easily tackle multiple objectives simultaneously, iterate quickly, ship more regularly, and incorporate a wide range of technologies into existing product and product roadmap.
For those that want to succeed in the experience economy, the time to start is now. These five principles provide core building blocks that are central to successful experience-led transformations. Let us know how you are embedding experience across your enterprise.