Let me start by asking you a question: what’s the one factor that makes or breaks a customer experience (CX)? I can imagine that you’re thinking of consistent branding or personalized customer journeys. And you’re right - these factors and more contribute to a stellar CX.
However, that was a trick question: there’s no single factor that determines whether you’ll be successful or not. A superior CX is not created with one component alone. It’s not a process you follow, the website or app you launch, a piece of technology you implement, nor the communications you send out. It’s all of those things and more working together.
Today’s customers are looking to be inspired and intrigued at all times. Standing out from the competition requires pulling out all the stops. We’re living in the age of and, where an exceptional CX can’t be built by prioritizing one pillar over another. The opportunity cost is simply too high. Each component is of equal priority and should be treated as such. This requires a shift in our thinking, from “this or that” to “this and that.”
Bridging the gap between expectation and reality
80% of brands believe they offer a superior CX, but in reality only 8% of their customers agree, according to Bain & Company. The challenge is that today’s customers aren’t just seeking a unique and engaging experience, they also expect everything to work properly and be consistent too.
Or should I say demand?
There’s no longer any tolerance for slow-loading websites, apps with complex navigation, or inconsistencies in webpage designs. And why would there be, when a growing sea of competing brands are at customers’ beck and call?
This is why I’ve been using the word “and” a lot when describing CX. We’re living in a time where winning customers over requires:
1. Scale and consistency
Most brands are well aware of the importance of consistency. The challenge lies in maintaining consistency when your brand is growing. Digital ecosystems have become more complex than ever before, making it harder to manage and make the most out of them. But the truth is that choosing scale over consistency or vice versa won’t lead to success. Both are essential to winning.
2. Creativity and technology
Where creativity refers to thinking outside of the box, technology is all about making processes more productive and efficient. It’s no surprise that the two are often treated as polar opposites. But the truth is that the two go hand in hand and can unlock unbelievable possibilities to create wholly immersive and captivating experiences.
3. Engaging and seamless experiences
Customers are no longer looking to simply buy your product or service. They want to engage with experiences that are fun and of value to them. At the same time, today’s customers are spoiled for choice and have high expectations of the brands they buy from. They won’t settle for experiences that aren’t seamless, convenient, and tailored to their needs.
Moving past zero-sum thinking
The tensions of the digital world have a tendency to push us into zero-sum thinking. For one side to win, the other has to lose: “I’m unable to scale my team’s output without experiencing brand inconsistencies and sacrificing quality,” “We can’t make investments in technology and also expect to be more creative,” or “Let’s first focus on creating a smooth experience, we can always come back to the more engaging part later.”
Survival in the age of and isn’t child’s play. The success you’ll have as a brand lies in navigating the friction rather than clinging to the “either” or the “or.” Whether that’s unifying creativity and technology for a transformative sweet spot or investing in a design center of excellence to deliver consistent design at scale.
The way I see it, there doesn't always have to be a winner or a loser. Let's put zero-sum thinking behind us and instead focus on paving the way toward success.