Established virtual businesses have thrived in the last few years, many due to the limited choices consumers had. Now customers have embraced the post-COVID world and are happy to be out of their homes again. Companies that acquired new customers during the pandemic who weren't digitally savvy before, but were forced to become so, now need to figure out how best to keep them engaged.
This will require a strong focus on bridging digital and in-person experiences to deliver consistent and personalized moments that strengthen a customer’s emotional connection to the brand. Those dual realities have forced the need to think about experience more holistically—as a continuum of experience that encompasses user experience (UX), customer experience (CX), and employee experience (EX).
Evolving customer expectations and the intersection of experiences
UX has traditionally been associated with how a brand comes to life across digital channels and how to make digital interactions seamless. Now, with increasingly elevated customer expectations, brands need to recognize the importance of data in delivering meaningful, personalized experiences to customers. Move beyond the simple desktop-to-mobile viewpoint—the data has to come to life not just via digital experiences, but through in-person interactions and experiences, like checking into a hotel, checking out at a grocery store, and navigating a healthcare experience.
If personalization is critical, that means the employee experience is equally as critical because the frontline is where those experiences are being delivered. Both your digital channels and your people are the customer-facing component to delivering on the experiences customers have come to expect. This gives the employee experience increasing importance. We’re not just talking about happy employees—though that’s an important component—but making sure your people understand the mission and vision of your company. When employees understand the value a brand delivers to its customers, they can be the front-facing, direct relationship builder. And when a brand does that with both human beings and digital interfaces, that's where the true intersection of CX, UX, and EX come together in a powerful way.
It’s all about the data—and what you do with it
Collecting first- and zero-party data, asking questions to build out a profile, creating quizzes or polls—these things allow brands to demonstrate how they’ve gotten to know their customers and remain agile in their approach to making their customers’ lives easier by offering personalized content in the right moments via the right channels. This means brand teams need to work across silos—and more closely than ever before.
It's critical that companies work to embed their mission, vision, and values not only into how they deliver the end customer experience, but how they leverage their employees to successfully deliver that experience. The more employees feel empowered and valued as a critical component, the more seamless and consistent the customer experience will be.
That’s why the technology component can’t be ignored. It’s so important to consider how you get the right information and insights about your customers to employees so they can deliver the best, most personalized experiences. So, on the HR side of things, that means employees have the tools and information they need to do their jobs in the best way possible. From the customer side, it means the employees have what they need at their fingertips to deliver the kind of elevated experiences that meet customers where they are.
This means investing in insights that drive experience. Historically, those insights may have been held within an analytics or marketing organization, but not widely shared or distributed. However, there is a need to democratize data and information to employees both across functions and deep within the enterprise. This will result in people who are better equipped to understand customer needs and motivations—empowering them as team members while positively impacting employee experience. Plus, the customer benefits from a more personalized human interaction that can be translated into more relevant, intentional digital interactions through personalizing data. And employees benefit from feeling more engaged and empowered in their work and the positive impact they have on the business.
How to optimize on the new experience continuum
To make the most of the interconnectedness and blurring of lines across the UX, CX, and EX spectrum of experience—and create more seamless experiences across the board—organizations should consider these best practices:
Invest in insights. It’s easy to fall into a trap of “we know our customers.” The irony is that that statement is made all too often without actually talking to your customers. Develop a system of frequently gathering information and feedback on satisfaction levels at moments that matter across the customer journey.
- Use those insights to prioritize. Armed with insights, take on the changes that will most positively impact customers.
- Go beyond identifying problems—take action to fix them (but not all at once). Get experience wins on the board to build momentum, demonstrate impact, and build a team of change agents that work across the enterprise to drive positive impact.
- Take an agile approach to continuous improvement, measurement, and action. Customer expectations change, so embrace flexibility to address new opportunities, launches, and experiences with best practices and learnings in mind.
- Involve employees in the process of elevating the customer experience. The more they feel a part of problem-solving, the easier it is to rally them around delivering that experience.
Investing in customer experience can have significant business impact. It helps establish a foundation for employees and customers to relate to the brand they’re interacting with, whether as a team member or as a customer—or ideally both! Over time, these investments lead to individuals relating to a brand in more meaningful ways, moving beyond single transaction points to a place where their own identity is tied to the brand.