This blog was co-authored by Jason Cimino, Product Innovation and NY Account Lead; Jonathan Green, Sr Group Experience/Creative Director; Ben Johnson, SVP Emerging Technology; Justin Kaufman, VP Product Engineering, and Ben Wakeman, Sr Director, Head of Product Management.
When our team began working on this content, no one could have fully predicted how different the world would look by the time we published. Instead of rendering our topic—digital experience—either obsolete or insignificant, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways shone a light on the power of experience. Although the immediate threat will subside, the effects of the virus have changed the world from a social and economic perspective forever.
This is part one of our four-part series for how to transform your business to thrive in the Experience Economy.
How Quickly Things Change
Businesses are pivoting their operations in order to stay afloat. Many are moving faster and in more innovative ways than they ever thought possible. Digital experience creators are also stepping up to fill the void left by the countless cancellations of real-life events. From entertainment streaming to gaming platforms to video sharing for families and businesses alike, experience-led brands are coming to the rescue to help people cope with the personal and professional adversities that are part of the new reality of stay-at-home orders and sweeping brick-and-mortar closures.
Putting the world on pause has made us acutely aware of the importance and relevancy of experiences in our day-to-day lives. We can still have our morning coffee, but we miss the experience of our coffee procurement ritual. We can still see musicians perform, but we miss the experience of being there in the audience.
Delivering exceptional digital experiences for customers, employees, and partners has never been more important.
If anything, the pandemic has actually accelerated the pace of change — first by making it crystal clear how much people value their experiences, and second by catalyzing swift advances in areas from telecommuting to telemedicine, “contactless” delivery to remote schooling.
The World is Changing Right Before Our Eyes
This unprecedented moment is full of hardships and tragedy, but it is also full of opportunity to learn how we can do better on the other side of this crisis. This is a chance for companies to demonstrate citizenship by “being human,” which is another way of saying to act with empathy for the greater good. And it is a chance for companies to reimagine the possibilities and renew their capabilities.
To survive into the post-COVID era, companies need to empower innovation, embrace new creative approaches, and rapidly deploy their best ideas. They need to make experience their North Star, guiding them through this turbulent time so that they can continue to thrive once the crisis is over.
With this discussion about experience—what it is, why it matters, and how companies are using it to transform everything about their business—we invite you to consider opportunities that are waiting.
Welcome to the Experience Economy
Businesses often think about experience as a static, almost physical structure—a sequence of events they can push customers through. It is more accurate, however, to think about experience less like a noun and more like a verb. From your customer’s perspective, experience encompasses not only the tangible aspects of interacting with your brand and product, but also the feelings they derive from those interactions. By its very nature, experience is not defined by the company, but by the customer. The company’s job is to ensure the experience is a good one.
The best experiences are built around a core of empathy and designed to respond adaptively to a customer’s changing needs and dynamic interactions. Great experiences are about meeting needs in the moment. Whether you’re talking about customers or employees, the goal is to achieve an in-depth understanding of needs so you can deliver a solution that aligns precisely with those needs.
What Do Standout Experiences Look Like in Real Life?
One of our favorite kickoff-meeting ice breakers is to ask people to name their favorite application. Spotify is always a top choice, and the reason for their dominance is their outstanding experience. The Spotify experience offers much more than the ability to listen to an enormous catalog of music, audio books, and podcasts. It offers more than the ability to create custom playlists. One of Spotify’s key differentiators is its best-in-breed matching algorithm that curates the listening experience by accurately predicting which music a listener will enjoy most. Spotify also takes the effort out of creating playlists by organizing liked tracks into “Daily Mix” playlists. And because Spotify knows people love sharing their favorite music, the app fuels growth by making it easy for users to embed music on platforms including Instagram, Facebook, and iMessage. In short, Spotify simplifies the music experience with excellent, personalized curation and sharing that’s tailored to each individual user.
A Major Streaming Media Company
Engaging the customer service department of a media behemoth can be a frustrating experience. The source of this frustration usually includes interminably long wait times and being passed from person to person to accomplish what you thought was a simple task. After doing some research, one of the biggest streaming media companies discovered that talking to a live support person was not the customer’s ideal experience. In fact, the prototype solution that tested best was a chatbot integration designed to anticipate and seamlessly handle common issues in real time. This allows customers to update their credit card, change their subscription, and other common tasks, all without leaving the secure chat window.
A Leader in Interior Lighting
The light switch offers one of the most ubiquitous experiences on the planet—one so intuitive and easy, it might seem impossible to improve on it. However, a leader in interior lighting is developing home-lighting innovations that are transforming the way people use light to create experiential environments that adapt to daily routines and provide customized ambiance for special events. This platform combines hardware (smart light bulbs, switches, and plugs) with software to give people the power to create and automate countless lighting designs right from their phones.
These new and expansive capabilities are made possible by enabling modern, connected experiences that take full advantage of connected IoT ecosystems. By integrating with products and platforms such as Alexa, Siri, Apple CarPlay, smart switches, and other mobile apps, this company has reinvented the way people control lighting.
Welcome to the Next Chapter in Your Company’s Story
The world is changing quickly. Collectively, we are facing many new challenges and discovering many new opportunities. The experience economy is in full swing, and leading companies are already reaping the short- and long-term rewards of investing in experience on a strategic and tactical level.
In the near future, the most successful brands will be the ones led by people who understand that the experience they create is as important as the products and services they deliver. Already, the performance gap is widening dramatically between companies that are embracing experience and companies that are falling behind the curve.
The good news is that it’s definitely not too late and you don’t have to do everything at once. Becoming a fully experience-led organization ultimately requires that you shift your operational model by adopting the right mindset, setting up the right company structure, and building the right team. But, in the meantime, even small experience-based improvements and innovations can drive game-changing business outcomes.
You can start almost anywhere. The opportunities are everywhere if you know where to look. We believe in the power of experience and are passionate about helping companies define and deliver on their experience-led transformation.
Download our POV to learn how to become a company that is able to envision and execute exceptional digital experiences.