The new path to growth, by Accenture Interactive’s David Fregonas

Improving experience and improving lives can lead to improved profits, writes Accenture Interactive’s David Fregonas

By David Fregonas, Accenture Interactive lead, Middle East

The pandemic changed the structure of everything we experience: how and what we buy when and where we work; to the ways we interact and engage with the community. It has also made us deeply aware of what’s working, what’s relevant and what’s possible.

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There is a sharp focus on products, services and brands, and their roles in customers’ and employees’ lives. Our research found that nearly 80 per cent 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 optimisation of marketing, sales and service touchpoints to serve and retain customers – is arguably more important now than ever. Yet Forrester tells us the return on CX investments has become stagnant for 81 per cent of brands. And our research 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?

The reality is that in many organisations, CX is implemented as glitter – a slick website, clever social media, purpose-washed marketing – but disconnected from human needs, and customers are still left wanting more. The new pathway to growth requires evolution to the ‘business of experience’ (BX), where human needs inform every facet and function of the business, bringing the entire organisation to focus on finding and fulfilling their customers’ unmet needs. BX thinking strengthens the organisation’s fabric 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 organisations.

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 the global pandemic have forced firms to understand their customers and their employees in a way they never had before, and deliver experiences that respond to unmet needs. The result is stalwart marketplace durability, not just momentary optimisation.

And it pays off: BX organisations’ 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.

By unlocking sustainable growth in the experience renaissance, BX organisations outperform their peers. Their single core commonality? Customer-obsessed reimagination of their business model. These companies deliver 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 organisation. Here’s how that comes to life:

Customer needs are your compass. Customer needs will continue to evolve. Therefore, invest in discovering 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 organisation 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.

  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 a greater scale if you integrate technologies, tools, data and processes.

We are in a renaissance, when 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 organisations – even the biggest household names – a permission slip to reimagine how they do business completely. There’s never been a better time to embrace the business of experience.