Why Your Brand Needs a Total Experience Strategy

Customer experience planning

Total Experience can be a powerful tool for engagement and growth, but only with an intentional strategy behind it. Kate Kompelien, Executive Director of Experience Strategy at Avtex, explains.

For too long, customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) have been pursued in silos, led by separate departments working from different data sources toward different goals. Total Experience (TX) seeks to change this norm by combining the needs of the parties at both ends of your business interactions – customers and employees. In doing so, brands can facilitate a single streamlined experience that creates greater consistency and efficiency in each interaction across every business segment, function, and technology interface.

Already, TX adoption is growing – and for good reason. In addition to reducing interdepartmental barriers, curbing overspending on unnecessary technology solutions, and unlocking key insights into customer loyalty and employee engagement, it can drive results and accelerate business growth. In its 2021 Technology Trend report, Gartner predicted that, by 2024, businesses that prioritize a TX strategy will outperform their competitors in the critical customer and employee satisfaction metrics by 25 percent. By 2026, according to the same report, 60 percent of large enterprises will use TX to transform their business models to achieve world-class customer and employee advocacy levels.

Why is this? When you can understand what gets in the way of employees meeting their customer needs, you open the door to improving both the customer and the employee experience. By solving employee needs, you directly solve some of your customer needs and vis versa. Too often we focus on what matters to employees only from a human resources perspective and overlook the customer experience perspective. By only focusing on the culture and payroll pieces, we miss out on an opportunity to serve our customers even better.

The Importance of Starting with Strategy

The pursuit of an inclusive, end-to-end Total Experience may seem daunting. But, by breaking it down step-by-step, the tasks become manageable, progress can be tracked and seen, and your final product will be far more meaningful and successful.

One of the biggest mistakes I see brands make is skipping over the strategy phase and going right into execution mode. There’s so much risk – to your customers, to your employees, to your future – to building TX based on what you think rather than what you know. Nobody thinks that they have time for strategy, but I guarantee that, by taking a few months to create a data-driven foundation for your investment now, you will save years of going back and forth and, ultimately, nowhere.

If you want to capture the differentiation that TX offers, you need to take the time to do it right. There’s little sense in investing time and funds without using data to ensure the results. Going after the lasted technology alone can’t solve your experience problems if you don’t know what those problems are in the first place. A comprehensive and holistic transformation of your EX and CX takes effort, but it’s worth it, to ensure your brand is meeting the needs of the people who are driving its success. Here’s a brief framework to help you start preparing and strategizing for your own TX journey.

Utilizing the Total Experience Framework

Creating an impactful Total Experience depends on deep understanding, intelligent design, and seamless orchestration. At Avtex, we guide clients through the process using our Five E’s Framework. The result is an actionable plan for transformation tailored to the unique needs of a business and its people.

1. Evaluate. The first step to laying out the roadmap for where you want your TX to go is assessing where your business stands now. This means understanding each aspect of your current customer and employee experiences as well as the health of the enabling business, technology, and operational capabilities. Voice of the Customer (VoC) and Voice of the Employee (VoE) programs, with support from business intelligence, are crucial to collecting timely and accurate information. Identifying your shortcomings and your strengths in this way will inform the direction of your new Total Experience strategy.

2. Envision. Using the feedback and information gathered, design a TX concept that capitalizes on the opportunities and bridges the gaps. In addition to aligning with customer and employee needs (based on results from persona development, customer journey mapping, and other articulation tools), your TX should also drive growth while reducing costs. This will form the crux of your business case moving forward.

3. Execute. Prioritize, build, and launch your experience. From “just-do-its” to building entirely new sales and service delivery models, this is when you begin to grow your capabilities, eliminate friction points, and delight your audience with a consistent, predictive, dependable, and proactive experience.

4. Engage. Using the VoC and VoE programs from step one, request feedback from your customers and employees with each iteration of your TX strategy. This will help ensure that your TX strategy remains aligned with evolving behaviors and expectations, now and over time. Listening to and incorporating comments from these groups also helps build fulfillment with your brand – an important factor in building devotion, brand standing, and, later, revenue.

5. Evolve. Your TX is not stagnant. As you continue to engage your audience, use feedback to continue to tweak the experience and the systems that support it. Every few years, you’ll need to take a deep dive and modify your current state assessment, redefine your shifting personas, ensure your VoC and VoE programs are asking the right questions based on today’s technology and touchpoints, and identify the problems that need to be solved.

Determining your TX Maturity

As you begin implementing your Total Experience, you can grade your efforts using the TX Maturity Model. Rankings are determined on five key components: alignment, understanding, design, orchestration, and measurement.

By understanding this model and where you fall within it, you will have a clearer idea of the Total Experience that exceeds your customers’ and employees’ expectations – and what the next goal for your TX strategy should be.

The Maturity Model, designed at Avtex, has four levels:

1. Limited. Your CX has minimal channel offerings and has limited access to customer and employee data.

2. Ad Hoc. While the result of some customer service research and more defined journey maps may have identified some preliminary pain points, your effort is still relatively immature.

3. Reliable. You are that much closer to delivering a Total Experience for everyone interacting with your brand, with more consistent customer and employee experiences that are integrated and predictive.

4. Embedded. Your Total Experience includes a vision, strategy, and design that reflects the strengths of a true omnichannel environment while integrating systems, data, and processes across all channels and devices to reach and support both customers and employees.

Together, the Five E’s Framework and the TX Maturity Model can help kick-start your brand’s TX journey. A solid strategy ensures you’re acting on and allocating toward the right deliverables, tracking the metrics that matter, and aligning and rallying your team around a common purpose. By setting a strategy-focused foundation today, you’ll create a Total Experience that helps elevate your brand to new heights tomorrow.

Download the Total Experience Playbook for additional tips on designing and orchestrating a seamless Total Experience that elevates your customer experience and employee engagement.

About the Author

Kate KompelienKate Kompelien is Executive Director of Experience Strategy at Avtex, which designs, orchestrates, and enables CX and TX. Kate focuses on coaching and educating across the design process. She has pioneered first-of-a-kind CX design processes (insights, mapping, behavioral research, design, and measurement) for Fortune 500 companies and services organizations. Kate understands the importance for companies to differentiate in highly competitive markets and she drives change by listening, communicating, and collaborating while delivering exceptional output that results in increased revenue, improved customer loyalty, and aligned decision making.

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