The Experience Economy is now more than 20 years old. Back in 1998, when an article in Harvard Business Review first heralded its arrival, it identified experiences as a distinct economic offering in their own right. They were right of course, and today the evidence is everywhere. Companies have since built billion-dollar businesses by putting Customer Experience (CX) — and more recently Employee Experience — at the fore.
But herein lies the problem. Different elements of experience management have evolved at various times and pace with disparate tool sets. Customer Experience dominated early thinking, and the IT industry responded with dedicated tools and systems to enhance customer service experiences. IT departments soon started using customer service tools internally for their own IT teams, which evolved into dedicated IT Service Management software.
More recently, organizations have realized the importance of Employee Experience. Research shows happy employees out-perform competitors by 20%, are 12% more productive, 65% more energetic and take 10 times fewer sick days. Likewise, happy salespeople drive 37% more sales — and now we have an array of dedicated Employee Experience tools.
Imperfect disparate experiences at scale
Of course, anything that delivers a better experience is a good thing, but this cumulative proliferation of isolated experience management tools aimed at different stakeholders now lacks efficiency at an enterprise level — largely because they don't seamlessly stitch together or complement cross functional collaboration, making resolution of complex customer issues even harder.
For example, a customer service agent should be able to easily collaborate with internal support teams, such as legal, finance, IT and facilities teams seamlessly. This not only reduces resolution time, but also gives better visibility of conversations and context, increases agent productivity, reduces scope for error, and helps to identify trends around customer service issues. Sadly, that's not the case today for most of these tools. Removing this friction means eliminating silos between processes and disparate tools and providing a holistic view of the customer and their issues.
Gartner refers to Total Experience as one of 12 top trends this year in its report Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022, published in 2021 by David Groombridge, who writes:
Total Experience is a business strategy that integrates employee experience, customer experience, user experience and multiexperience across multiple touchpoints to accelerate growth.
In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2024, organizations providing Total Experience will outperform competitors by 25% in satisfaction metrics for both Customer Experience and Employee Experience.
What to look for in a unified experience management platform
As a result, companies that have already invested in Customer Experience, ITSM and Employee Experience software and strategies are now looking for ways to consolidate these efforts. So what exactly should you be looking for in a unified experience management platform? In short, there are three key attributes:
- First, look for a platform that provides a unified and consistent digital experience to customers and employees. This is fundamental to supporting modern, cross-functional collaboration.
- Second, look for a platform that helps customers move from a transactional approach to serving their customers into a holistic customer experience across all channels to cater to the rising customer needs and expectations. This is particularly important as 55% of customers say they expect better customer service year-on-year.
- Finally, look for a platform that streamlines collaboration, improves accountability, provides visibility, and creates a system of record for internal teams to prioritize and deliver faster and outstanding customer service.
Challenges and pitfalls
Because customer experience in itself is highly fragmented and disparate across different channels — both digital and physical — there are a few challenges and pitfalls to bear in mind.
First, consider your data and processes. Customer data is spread across different departments, and depending what data silos are in place, this can sometimes impede a comprehensive view of the customer and the issues they face. Likewise, siloed processes and systems or tools can obstruct a holistic resolution to customer issues.
Second, make sure you can effectively collaborate around the customer issue with other internal support teams, departments, and functional business heads. This may require an adjustment in how you access customer insights and use them to improve customer experience from a collaboration perspective.
Rise of the unified customer record
As Total Experience gains momentum, expect to see much more of a focus on the Unified Customer Record (UCR). A Unified Customer Record captures customer data from all interactions and touchpoints, so businesses can leverage customer insights to deliver delightful customer experiences. By improving context and insight, a UCR provides organizations with a unified view of customers for deeper insights and more contextual, personalized engagement.
All customer attributes are connected to identities, and customer profiles are consolidated into UCRs, further enriched by third-party data sources. This way, salespeople and marketers can create data-driven engagement strategies that delight customers across the journey.
Whether we're customers or employees, all of our experiences are ultimately shaped by our interactions and observations. As Gartner concludes:
Experiences are ultimately determined by the feelings, emotions and memories accumulated through observation and interaction. The experience usually starts with an interaction that leads to participation, then to engagement, and on to satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
Mastering Total Experience in this digitized experience economy not only accelerates business value, but also drives greater confidence, satisfaction and loyalty.