The future of customer experience is ours to choose

Businesses are investing in digital to compete in the connected economy. Successful digital transformation must engage customers at every step of their experience

by Brian Solis

The future of CX or customer experience is a bit of a play on words…it’s ours to choose rather than ours to lose. The truth is that many businesses are already losing, they just don’t realize it yet.

Executives are making great assumptions about customer behavior that lead to new investments and new technology. But over time, this leads companies away from — rather than closer to — their customers, simply because the customer journey is evolving faster than our experience learning from and successfully shaping it is.

My research shows that connected customers who live an active digital lifestyle, who see the mobile or smartphone as the first screen, not the second, traverse the journey differently than traditional customers before them.

Any strategic decisions based on instinct, previous experience, or past behavior eventually veer away from customer activity, causing investments to miss the mark to varying degrees of consequence. However, there’s no reason for this to happen. Every company needs to become truly customer-centric and strive for relevance among connected customers, not just the traditional markets we know so well.

Businesses invest in digital to compete

One of the most notable trends I’m tracking these days is that of digital transformation — businesses investing in digital along with new supporting systems, processes, and models to more effectively compete in a connected economy. In 2014, I published two reports on this subject. The first was based on a qualitative set of interviews with companies highly regarded for their progress in leading the way. I used these findings as the benchmarks for my second report, which surveyed digital strategists and executives about their states of digital transformation.

My research focuses on the evolving customer experience and journey, often referred to as “the DCX” (digital customer experience). I defined my focus this way:

The re-alignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital consumers at every touch point in the customer experience life cycle.

I was surprised to learn that companies are indeed changing, but many of them do so based on presumptions rather than insights. In the survey, 88 percent acknowledged that they were undergoing digital transformation efforts according to the provided definition/focus. Yet only 25 percent had completely mapped out the customer journey within the last year to understand new digital touchpoints.

And of that 25 percent, I would speculate that mapping is not the same as studying real world behavior, which only 12 percent stated they were doing.

Digital transformation’s impact should be measured at both business and customer levels. Companies undertaking a significant effort to bring about change should do so because they’re enlightened by the very customer they’re aiming to engage. Thus, to successfully pursue digital transformation, the people leading the change must understand and empathize with the people who are defining their markets. It’s almost counterintuitive in a way, but incredibly logical when you think about it: Digital transformation starts with people. Now, that’s true customer-centricity.

Learn more about creating a Mobility Roadmap as part of your digital transformation.