CX Won't Help You Grow; It's Time to Think Bigger


Increasingly, the customer experience offered by your company is measured not just by standards set by your direct competitors but also by non-competitors across industries. Sixty-one percent of executives surveyed for recent research by Accenture Interactive into the topic of customer experience agree that customers are shaped by the most hyper-relevant, real-time, and dynamic experiences they encounter across all industries, and that those experiences affect how and why they innovate.

Until now, well-executed customer experience (CX) strategies have given businesses what they need: customers, sales, and loyalty. However, the fundamentals of CX are now commonplace, and the value proposition has diminished. To offer great experiences, we must change how we deliver them.

The Business of Experience (BX) is a more holistic approach that allows organizations to reignite growth. Where CX was primarily the concern of front-office executives, BX is a boardroom and C-suite priority because it ties back to every aspect of the company's operations. BX treats experience as the life blood of businesses' core competency, especially considering the COVID implications whereby customer expectations have become so much more elusive, and most historical trends have been massively disrupted. According to our research, BX-oriented companies on average grow their profitability year on year by at least six times more than their industry peers.

Become a BX business

From our research, we've identified four ways to help companies realize the promise of BX:

1. Obsess about customer needs.

Customer requirements have been shifting for some time, but the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated change. Customers will continue to transform in unpredictable ways, and we need to find ways to uncover their unmet needs. Doing so will help businesses grow into new and promising categories.

Traditionally, organizations have limited their customer insights function to marketing, using historical data and market segmentation to understand customers at given moments in time. To understand customers more deeply, they need to pick up on data signals and research that demonstrate what people are saying and how they are behaving. This analysis needs to take place across all business functions in a cross-organization approach.

Customer obsession is not a nice-to-have strategy anymore. In the era of AI, the ability to have deep insights about your customers has become a competitive advantage. Leading players are not constrained by the limited data they have about their customers; in fact, they use innovative techniques to tap into a 360-degree view of customers. Winners in CX will demonstrate ubiquitous ability to harness customer data.

2. Make experience innovation a habit.

A true experience innovation culture closes the gap between the brand promise and the experiences it delivers. BX businesses solve problems in fundamentally new ways by anchoring innovation to human needs. Conversely, most companies rely only on a new look and feel to existing touch points without changing processes or operations to align with customer needs.

Experience is not just a shiny object anymore in the post-COVID age, and being intentional with all things matters with experience. Experience needs to impact the entire lifecycle of customers and employees, and companies need to take a more systematic approach to address non-stop experiential expectations from their customers and employees.

3. Expand the experience remit.

Experience isn't the responsibility of just one member of the C-suite anymore; it's everyone's business. Every person and every business function must act as one cohesive, customer-obsessed unit.

Companies can start this cultural transformation by making experience a priority across every function, including operations, HR, product development, strategy, technology, and more. Employees should feel empowered to make data-driven decisions because they treat customer experience as the holy grail, and they need to be rewarded by management because they're also making their ability to contribute to customer experience their personal goal, too. Employees need to be more digital-savvy and data-powered to operate with a BX mindset, giving this obsession with experience an upskilling benefit as well.

4. Sync the tech, data, and human agendas.

BX leaders rewire data, tech,and people to build agility and unlock efficiencies that can be reinvested in new opportunities. This allows them to improve experiences and give customers what they want without affecting profitability and sustainability.

The cloud should be the foundation of organizations' experience infrastructure, as it allows them to save costs and link data and people in newer, faster, and more creative ways. Companies then need to immediately reap benefits of cloud investment by accelerating their journeys with scaled AI; that is, making AI powered by data and algorithms an inherent part of their business processes and systems as opposed to an afterthought. As data continues to improve performance through more impactful experiences, companies can use those learnings to refine their infrastructure and unlock additional efficiencies.

Make Experience Your Business

BX will drive growth and deliver against customer and business needs, even during these most uncertain of times. Becoming a BX business will not be easy, but it is necessary. Every organization is trying to manage its way through the economic and health crises unfolding around us and come out on the other end stronger and ready to compete in what will be a much different world. Delivering on experience will be critical in this new age, providing a vital lever for disruption, differentiation, and customer satisfaction. If you're not already in the Business of Experience, now's the time to get started.

Dawn Anderson is a senior managing director and global lead for customer strategy and consulting at Accenture. Lan Guan is a senior managing director in Accenture's Applied Intelligence practice.