The Experience Economy is Booming
“The experience economy” – based on the idea of selling experiences rather than products – is the fourth great stage in consumer development, following commodities, goods, and services. Only a theory in the past, the experience economy is a reality today, and customer experience (CX) has ascended to a top priority for business leaders. Consumers now consider experience king, as well. They have transformed into “everything customers” who are now more demanding than ever. Sometimes they want to serve themselves, other times they want to interact with a human. Sometimes they want businesses to use information they have on them to personalize their service and be proactive, but they also want their privacy to be respected. Sometimes they want to interact via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, other times they want traditional phone calls.
And we all increasingly expect access and engagement across every touchpoint—both physical and digital—to compose our own seamlessly connected experiences.
Moving Beyond Delight
Like any theory, the experience economy concept has evolved. Originally, much of it was rooted in the idea that organizations must “delight” their customers with service that goes above and beyond. Brands like Disney and Nordstrom led the way with their top down CX approaches that were ingrained in their company culture and leadership. Organizations across all industries followed suit, as they focused on exceeding their customers’ expectations by offering liberal return policies, freebies, or additional service.
But does the ability to delight customers actually create experiences that matter? Or is the ability to engage effortlessly what truly matters, and what really differentiates a customer’s experience with a brand?
Research consistently shows us that organizations build loyalty by giving customers experiences they truly value, rather than offering dazzling displays of service. And organizations that fail to provide experiences often pay a significant price. Key findings from Siegel+Gale estimate that $98 billion is left on the table each year by companies that don’t deliver simple, clear, intuitive experiences. Brands like Apple have built their business on delivering effortless experiences. For example, an Apple user can connect a phone with a computer, watch, and ear buds to consume music, tv, movies and other content seamlessly throughout a unified ecosystem.
Delivering Authentic Moments
Today’s environment of tremendous change offers an opportunity to think beyond delighting. Instead, we can achieve engagement to deliver authentic moments that build real, lasting connections, and do it effortlessly. Digital banking that answers questions and manages finances with no stress. Being connected with a service agent that understands you and maybe even went to your same school. Getting a recommendation that saves you time, money or saves you anxiety – rather than trying to sell you something else. More than ever, the experience economy must consist of moments that deliver what the customer really wants—value.
Getting to this level of CX is directly tied to making technology feel more human. This begins by empowering employees to deliver authentic, contextual, real, and personal experiences. In fact, human interaction is more important than ever: 82% of US consumers want more of it in the future, according to the PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey.
For an airline, retailer, or healthcare provider, this could mean AI that instantly uses previous customer interactions and existing data to intelligently route the customer to the best resource that is best equipped to deliver an exceptional and effortless experience. In other words, the experience is simple, personalized, and provides real value to the customer.
Delivering those moments of authenticity also requires the ability to assess the level of engagement customers need at any particular moment. One customer may want to get a quick answer to a question. Another may want to chat using a specific app because that’s what they’re comfortable using. Whatever the level of engagement, the key is always being ready for them, for the experience they want in that moment. In other words, it’s about making the road as smooth as possible.
Technology Is the Enabler
The experience economy has been largely shaped by the advancement of the cloud, helping form an essential part of the solution to address goals and ambitions. In this time of change, organizations are taking the opportunity to realign priorities to provide effortless and in the moment experiences for customers — propelling the need for the right technology to support them.
A case in point is Standard Chartered. The global banking leader understood it needed to deliver personalized and consistent service to its diverse customer base. They needed to understand where customers start their service journey, and trends in how they prefer to reach out. To make this happen, the organization focused on providing digital banking with a human touch, with high channel availability, repeatability across market, and clear integration with the contact center. Avaya OneCloud™ is helping financial services leader Standard Chartered achieve its goal—enabling its employees with stronger workplace tools to develop deeper client customer connections.
For example, when a customer connects with the contact center, the system instantly recognizes whether the customer may be following up on an existing issue and routes the customer to the appropriate person who has immediate access to the relevant customer account and service history information. These kinds of connections keep clients coming back!
The Opportunity Is Here and Now
The new mission is right in front of us. In this booming experience economy, success is focused on meeting the needs of the ‘everything customer’ and having the right technology to enable that. Setting sights on experiences that really matter to people, no longer means delighting customers. Instead, it’s time to focus on providing effortless experiences that deliver real value.
Learn more about the “Everything Customer” in Avaya’s latest report with CCW Four Ways Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) Delivers a Better Employee and Customer Experience in 2021.
Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.