The year ahead for: experience, by Accenture’s David Fregonas #Marcomms360

Brands will move beyond customer experience (CX) to the business of experience (BX), writes Accenture’s David Fregonas.

By David Fregonas, Accenture Interactive lead, Middle East

Experience is everything in today’s day and age. Well, it’s a mindset to explore different experiences, to
be exact.

Every single experience – how and what people buy, how and where they work, and how they interact with others – has been upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. And these new behaviours are set to remain for the long haul. 77 per cent of CEOs agree that they will have to fundamentally change how they interact and engage with their customers, based on Accenture’s research in a forward-looking new report, “The Business of Experience (BX)”.

While a focus on customer experience (CX) has traditionally been based on transactions with customers, the new way of working – and one that is finding growing traction with the C-suite, is to be led by experiences. We call this new holistic approach – which is becoming a business imperative – the business of experience (BX).

Furthermore, consumer expectations of companies are also undergoing a shift. Today, the retailer and the manufacturer – along with the business world at large – are in the business of experience. BX is not specific to a function or workstream, but rather is a new fundamental way of working and a mindset shift that gives the entire organisation – all the way from the CEO down to the smallest member of the supply chain – a North Star. That is to create experiences that make the lives of customers more meaningful and rewarding.

More evolved than CX, BX is a holistic approach that allows organisations to become customer-obsessed and reignite growth. Whereas CX was limited to the chief marketing officer’s (CMO’s) or chief operating officer’s (COO’s) purview, BX is on top of the agenda in the board room as a CEO priority because it aligns with every aspect of a company’s operations.

According to our research, companies that are customer-obsessed and reimagine their business through delivering exceptional experiences centered around a purpose and enabled by innovation are much more likely than their peers to see the highest levels of sustained growth and weather future periods of upheaval.

In addition, the research shows that leading companies (companies that are performing well independently in terms of financial growth and business cycle endurance) think about and act on customer experience differently from their competitors. These leading companies are far more likely to take the following approaches with regard to BX, enabling them to outperform their peers consistently.

Through building a BX imperative, each company will need to reorient its organisation and find new ways to offer meaningful experiences to customers who are also grappling with several of the same challenges. Some of these are:

1. Becoming customer-obsessed: Customer needs will likely continue to evolve, often unpredictably, beyond the fallout from the pandemic. To address these needs, companies should invest in uncovering unmet customer requirements – both big and small. The research found that leading companies are twice as likely as others (55 per cent, compared with 26 per cent) to affirm that they can translate customer data into tangible action. However, several of these same leaders say that there are limitations to their data and what they can do with it. That’s why it is imperative to be truly customer-obsessed. Companies need to find better ways to dig deep and identify these needs.

2. Making experience innovation an everyday habit: Our research further indicates that leading companies are better prepared to benefit from an opportunity to innovate at scale. This is because they are more than twice as likely to demonstrate the agility to pivot towards new models that deliver value and relevance to their customers when compared with their peers.

3. Expanding the experience remit across their organisation: Experience is not the responsibility of just the CMO or COO — it’s everybody’s business. From the C-suite down, every employee and business component should be seamlessly linked and collaborate, functioning as one cohesive, customer-obsessed unit focused on moving towards the North Star: delivering the best customer experience.

4. Syncing the tech, data and human agenda: Becoming an experience-focused business is not about investing more but investing differently. Leaders redirect data, tech and people to enable agility that continuously unlocks efficiencies. These efficiencies can be reinvested in new opportunities for performance and growth. Among leaders, 61 per cent said their company has a clear view of which technology platforms they need to leverage to remain competitive and relevant, compared with only 27 per cent of their peers.

Finally, there is no question about it; BX will become the gold standard. This is a significant mindset shift. We believe that it will be an incredible engine for meaningful disruption, market differentiation and customer satisfaction, leading to continuous and sustained growth over the years.