Thursday, August 20, 2020

Take the Lead: The Attributes of an Experience-Led Business

Ross Freedman
Innovation

Driven by a need for meaningful interactions despite physical distancing, businesses have made seismic shifts this year to meet the unforeseen needs of their customers. In this environment, agility is essential.

Leading businesses act with agility every day to serve employees, customers, and partners effectively. Whatever industry you're in, becoming experience-led puts you in pole position to deliver exceptional – and differentiated – experiences. In turn, you'll secure the loyalty your business needs to thrive.

I recently participated in a virtual event hosted by Envision Virgin Racing – a founding team in the world's first fully electric, international single-seater street-racing series – at the FIA Formula E Championship finale. Just as the team has had to make its own experience-led shifts to keep fans engaged, we discussed why experience is critical to all organizations today and the attributes experience-led businesses share. Here are my key takeaways:

Make experience your North Star

Experience is not a product or service. Experience should be a company's North Star and its guiding principle for transformation initiatives, but not every organization knows how to live and breathe this intention. Some limit their focus to the front-end experience or try to solve new problems using old approaches.

But when the world changes, innovation triumphs. If business leaders embed experience methodologies into an organization, they can develop new ways to interact with customers that connect processes across the front, middle, and back office.

That's why many experience-led businesses begin every transformation initiative with research and avoid making assumptions about their target audiences. At every stage of every project, these businesses can explain how the actions they're taking support employee, customer, or partner needs.

Act at the intersection of speed and risk

In times of crisis, assess your appetite for risk and then innovate quickly. Imagine you're a Formula E driver. In every race, you must balance risk against speed and energy consumption. The faster you go or more energy you use, the more risks you take. But it's about taking the right risk at the right time. Even if you fail, the lessons you take away may have more value than the loss.

True experience-led businesses don't rest on their laurels but instead regularly reassess their risk appetite. It's at the intersection of speed and risk where you'll make decisions that set you apart from the competition. And, if you back up experimentation with a continuous feedback loop, it gives customers an opportunity to influence your journey, making them more willing to get on board.

Blend empathy with data-driven insights

Qualitative and quantitative insights power experience-led businesses, which act on both emotion and fact. This approach helps leaders develop experiences that meet whatever challenge people are facing externally but align to the internal needs of their business too.

For example, many businesses are creating digital platforms to engage with customers remotely. If these platforms look good but don't connect to back-end operations, the customer journey will stall. If they're intuitive for employees but not for customers, frustration is inevitable. That's why Pelotonia, a not-for-profit organization, considered both operational and user experience best practices to develop My Pelotonia, a digital platform to connect their fundraising community even during the most challenging of times.

Connect employee and customer experience

Every business wants to deliver a great customer experience, but experience-led businesses understand that this is only possible when you deliver a great employee experience first. After all, how will you delight customers if the employees who serve them are struggling behind the scenes?

In fact, an organization's overall efficiency, profitability, and competitive advantage are directly tied to employee engagement and satisfaction. Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their competitors by 147% in earnings per share.

You need to shift from inside-out thinking to an outside-in mindset. Look at the experience you want your customers to have, then spend time developing a seamless working environment that empowers employees to deliver it.

Also, allow employees to input into the design of their own experiences – just as you do for customers. Because when a positive experience runs deep for employees, customers feel it too.

In our ever-changing world, every business must become experience-led to develop the agility they need to drive differentiation, revenue growth, and market share. In the experience economy, that's how your business will take the lead and thrive.

To learn more about the connection between employee and customer experience, read our Future of Work POV.

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