In about 4 years, Total Experience (TX) is likely to be the business model of 60% of large enterprises, Gartner says. While Gartner forecasts are famously spot on, one cannot help wondering how that is going to be possible in such a short amount of time. Because just by looking at the type of experiences that brands are creating, you will find that most of them excel in offering one type of experience in particular – it’s either Customer Experience or User Experience; it’s either Employee Experience or Multiexperience. It’s a rare thing for companies to be able to offer them all – not because they don’t want to, but because it’s not as easy as it sounds.
While it may seem pretty straightforward, this new concept of Total Experience entails a high-level of complexity, starting with the technology at play and ending with a holistic approach and the never-ending changing mindset. The great news about TX is that, when leveraged right, it instills in anyone interacting with a brand – customers or employees – a high level of brand advocacy which feeds on ubiquity and efficiency.
Having the interest of creating a wholesome, fluid experience, TX unifies four big focus areas, which we will explain further on: customer experience (CX), user experience (UX), employee experience (EX) and multiexperience (MX). The challenge for brands is to build these 4 layers of experience into a continuum which allows for scalable, efficient flows around anyone and everyone interacting with them – customers and employees alike, regardless of environments or channels.
Gartner’s “Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022 – 12 Trends Shaping the Future of Digital Business” report points out very firmly that “by 2026, 60% of large enterprises will use total experience to transform their business models to achieve world-class customer and employee advocacy levels.”
At the same time, “by 2024 organizations providing a total experience will outperform competitors by 25% in satisfaction metrics for both CX and EX.” Gartner adds.
TX – what’s all the fuss about?
More than a strategy, a mindset or a business approach, Total Experience is basically translated through pure common sense. We all want to remove the friction between departments as well as the silos between processes and disparate tools. This way we get a holistic view of the customer and their challenges. It’s a win-win strategy for everyone involved – the customer, the employee, the brand.
Bluntly put, let’s say a customer just purchased a product or service and already faces a problem handling it. On the official website or app, they can’t find any information on how to solve that problem, so the customer needs to go through the Call Center. Unfortunately, the customer service person is unable to offer any viable solution because he/she doesn’t have the authority to override the system and provide support for such a specific problem. The request goes forward to another department. Time passes by and the customer’s faith in the company, its products and people drops a few points.
Total Experience treats the problem as a whole. For example, once you integrate UX, CX and EX into a seamless flow and interface, you get better results – you set up your employee for success by giving them the technology and flows they need to get their job done 100%, the customer gets their problem solved fast, without the frustration of waiting and providing the same information over and over again with scarce visibility over the outcome.
In this particular case, if the company had invested into a website, app, or chatbot that would collect data about its customers’ most frequent challenges, they could have offered a better user experience to the customer. This way the customer would have found the needed information easily and simply etc.
However, bettering the UX process never stops, so maybe the online information wouldn’t have been enough for the customer to solve the issue, hence he/she ends up asking for assistance. This time though, the employee takes notice of the problem, makes an evaluation, and takes a decision that overrides the system’s limitations. This way the waiting time is minimum for both the customer and the employee, who also gains time to assist other customers.
Recent studies show that companies that have happy employees perform 20% better than their competitors and that the happy employees themselves are 12% more productive. The flow doesn’t end here because every little aspect, every department, every process that becomes more efficient, ends up in influencing the next experience, which influences the next one, and so on. Much like the domino effects. This is how, in simple words, Total Experience works.
Customer Experience (CX) – the start to a beautiful friendship
You can’t sugarcoat things when it comes down to making and keeping your customers happy. Everyone dealing with customers knows the difficulties, the struggle, but also the rewards that come with the territory.
Over the years companies have become more and more focused on customers, their feelings, needs, interests, problems, concerns, behavior, patterns, reactions etc. so they could create better services or products. For instance, in QUALITANCE every app or platform that we create starts with a “Discovery” period where we investigate all these uncertainties.
We do hundreds of interviews with potential end-users to validate any assumption we might have regarding what they need and desire, what they struggle with and what they want to achieve with the help of the new product. These user insights allow us to start building prototypes and then fully develop products without the fear that the market is not ready for them or that the products or experiences themselves are not what customers want or need. Every stage of design and development revolves around the end-users, because we constantly go back to them for validation. It’s one of the most valuable principles of design thinking – an approach that we apply to everything we build.
This consistent focus on customer pains and gains gets translated through investments into mapping the customer journey, building platforms that follow their behavior and expectations, surveys – and could now be completed by adopting Total Experience as a way of doing business.
TX is offering customers the opportunity to have a smoother experience in relation to finding immediate and personalized solutions to their queries and issues. Hence, brands are empowering the customers, giving them a voice and the choice to act as direct influencers on their needs. And this has a positive impact on the work of the employees behind the brand too.
Gartner points out that CX “needs less friction and more delight through a better user interface, more options to communicate, and more empowered employees.”
Case Study: Hilton
Hilton is one of the companies that have invested in UX which empowers customers that are using their Hilton Honor app not just to book a room, but also select it prior to check-in, skip the front desk, open the door through using a Digital Key (available also through the app) and see the billing details throughout their stay. This way, the staff only deals with urgent matters and gets more involved in offering high-standard services to the customers.
Employee Experience (EX) – the business card that sometimes goes overlooked
They say that “happy employees ensure happy customers”. There’s a lot of truth in it, so even more reason for TX to factor it in.
CX and EX are often seen as the two faces of the same coin, because the customer’s relationship with a particular product, service, or brand, and of course their attachment, has a lot to do with how they interact with the brand representatives, i.e. the employees.
Employees on the other hand find meaning and fulfillment in their work when they are well looked after and are empowered to make decisions; when they have the technology that reduces complexity for them and helps them collaborate with peers and departments or override the system with instant access to relevant information across various channels and platforms. Circle closed.
Companies have struggled particularly during the pandemic to keep their employees and customers as happy as possible. McKinsey observed that “while most people have felt supported by their organizations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many have struggled.”
Investing in employee satisfaction, retention, skill level, and productivity is not only just a matter of common sense and fairness. It’s also a healthy, long-lasting way to build and nurture productive working flows that keep customers close and feed their loyalty.
Case Study: Disneyland
The well-known theme park Disneyland has also embraced the total experience way of business by investing in an app and connected devices (bracelets called Magic Bands) that can help customers manage itineraries, pay for merchandise and meals in the park, create photo memories and so on.
Thanks to the data the customers have introduced in the app, Disneyland employees are able to see their schedule and anticipate the customer flow in the park alerting managers to send additional cast members to assist. Employees have the power to quickly address problems by updating the application with universal Fast Passes to most in-demand rides.
User Experience (UX) – the “facelifting” all brands need
In recent years, delivering a complete (and why not, total) experience has been some sort of quest for the Holy Grail. A lot of companies tried to “find it”, just a few prevailed. When it comes to UX (seen as part of total experience), things get a bit difficult to manage because the customers’ needs and preferences keep on changing. This means that employees need to pay constant and close attention to them.
First things first, because there’s a risk of confusion, let’s clarify the difference between user experience and customer experience. User experience (UX) is all about how people interact with a specific product or service and the experience they receive from that interaction. UX is measured with the help of a series of metrics such as success rate, drop-off rate, error rate, time for task completion or the number of clicks to completion. Customer experience (CX) refers to all the interactions a person has with a brand, and one can measure it by the likelihood to continue using a product/service as well as the likelihood to recommend it to someone else.
Regardless of the UX your product is offering, people are going to find something wrong with it. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance to develop ways, methods, even survey platforms where the end-users could have their say about how they interact with a product or service, the areas they consider to be improved, what it’s missing or is redundant. At this point, continuously testing what you’re building with the end-users is vital.
By integrating the UX into the entire TX concept, the customers will find “a clean plate to deal with”, a self-service portal on multiple devices (yes, that’s a must too) that will eventually increase adoption.
It gets better. Employees are also impacted by this, because a strong UX means dealing with clients’ needs faster and better, cutting down on time spent on the phone, resolving tickets and so on. UX done right gives them more time to act as providers of concierge-level service for top tier customers, with the ability to override default settings with special offers.
Case Study: Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola has invested into a freestyle self-service beverage dispenser with the ability to personalize beverage/flavor combinations. It can be found in key venues, like restaurants, movie theaters, theme parks, sporting events or convenience stores.
The dispenser gives you, the customer, the power to make your own drink from +100 flavors, but it also assists you along the way just in case you end up in mixing flavors that don’t go well together.
You have the possibility to save your recipe through a sync app on your mobile, this way the employees can see which flavors are mostly used and which aren’t, create customer profiles and adjust the selection of flavors, along the way.
Multiexperience (MX) – just mix it!
Customers and employees constantly need information that is relevant to their pains and desires via websites, mobile apps, chatbots, augmented reality/virtual reality and a combination of interaction modalities, like touch, voice, vision etc. Of course, they can do with less than that, but the question is how much offering less will cost your business? It’s always easier to quantify the loss itself than the potential loss.
Let’s say a brand might offer a product with excellent UX & CX. The employee experience that enables a superior level of CX might also be very efficient and rewarding. What happens when the customer changes channels or platforms to interact with the brand? What happens when the form of communication changes too? How much redundancy and frustration accumulates along the way? As long as these channels and ways of communication with the brand remain separate and do not get tied into a coherent ecosystem, the CX, UX, EX will lose points.
TX adds this multi-experience to its already full bag of concepts in order to close the circle and continue its track on improving the interaction between the company and the customers across various environments.
So, these channels (CX, UX, EX & MX) need to do more than just standalone, they need to co-exist and blend in. The constant flow of information that is carried out from one to another through a seamless technical integration will help both the customers and employees to avoid repeating the same step or providing the same information to get their job done, as they change platforms, methods or channels of communication.
Case Study: Xiaomi
Xiaomi is a great example of how Multiexperience works and how customers can get, use, understand and edit the same information through various ways and touchpoints.
For the sportier ones, Xiaomi has created various devices to make it simple to track your results. This benefit solves the customer’s need for progress tracking and creates a sense of fulfillment, and while doing so it allows for information that helps Xiaomi employees better understand their customers’ behavior – how much they sleep, how much they walk, run etc. This information is leveraged into constant product refinement and tailoring, while providing a foundation for better, reliable, and relatable products.
Xiaomi fitness bracelets or smart watches can be easily connected to a mobile app (Zepp Life), which offers complete information for the end-user: from how many kilometers has he/she walked, how many calories did he/she burnt, to how many hours did he/she slept, but it also compares these data with the data received from the rest of the end-users.
The end-user can also sync this data with the one from the Xiaomi Smart Scale, which records data about his/her weight, muscle mass, bone mass, the level of water in the organism and so on, or with the data from their Mi Shoes – which provide personalized feedback to analyze health, fatigue, posture, steps, and calories and create precise data for improving health and preventing injuries.
The app itself can be synced with other apps that track the end-user’s meals, sport activities, mood etc. This way the final information that is recorded by the Xiaomi app combines all the data gathered from various devices and apps and offers an overview for the end-user.
By offering a myriad of devices that can be connected and synced throughout relevant touchpoints, companies offer the customer all the information in the same place and help its employees access and analyze all this data at once.
To conclude, Total Experience is based on the idea that nothing happens in a closed space. Employee experience impacts customer experience. User experience impacts employee experience, and so on.
All these experiences are interconnected and interdependent, and yet because of how they evolved as business disciplines, they are rarely treated as such. We can’t overlook the truth of the old saying that “everything is connected” , especially in this case. The future is happening as we speak, so brands need to embrace a holistic mindset, which eliminates the barriers between the different types of experiences and the teams that are making them happen, merge the entire “thinking and doing” strategy under the same hat.
“A combination of strategies is harder to replicate than a single strategy. You need to bring these things together. That’s where you’ll gain the competitive advantage that will be realized through these experience metrics.” – Brian Burke, Gartner’s Research Vice President said at the 2020 IT Symposium/Xpo™