The Progressive C-Suite
February 13, 2017
Experience is the teacher of all things. ~Julius Caesar
We are evolving to the point in our society where experience is everything. I and countless others place more value (and spend more money) on “experiences” over “things.”
Great experiences—big ones and small, indulgent and simple—make you happy and fill your brain with wonderful memories that far outshine the occasional blips of happiness you may feel with those tangible things.
This shift in consumer behavior has forced more (progressive) brands to shift their marketing strategy and resources to allow for the creation of valuable experiences for their customers that build brand loyalty.
The creation of memorable experiences allows for brand lovers to share those moments with friends and family via ratings, reviews and commentary on digital and social channels. And brands today understand the power those stories have on their business’ bottom line.
The power of exceptional experiences has never been stronger.
So why, then, do just a tiny fraction of brands have a dedicated experience chief?
In a search on LinkedIn, there are just 127 business professionals in the entire United States that hold the title of Chief Experience Officer (CXO) in the industries where experience drives just about everything: leisure, travel and hospitality. Even if you open it up to all industries, that’s just 632 people in the country with that title.
The CXO, as defined by one tech media company, “is charged with leveraging best practices in design and user experience to gain market share.” Yes, but customer experience is so much more than a customer’s digital experience, or UX; it’s the holistic customer experience. A more general (and accurate) definition on Wikipedia states that the CXO is “responsible for the overall experience of an organization’s products and services.”
The notion of a CXO was first floated a little over 10 years ago as one of those unique, unconventional titles some big brands were seemingly making up to sound fresh and modern. Other titles like “Director of First Impressions” and “Chief Amazement Officer” were others that gradually joined the list of creative job titles.
But in a world where experience is everything, is the idea of a CXO still unconventional?
Prioritizing experience just makes business sense.
Today’s experience chief brings internal departments—marketing, communications, digital/development and sales—together under one unified mission to deliver great experiences to the brand’s customers. In collaboration with the CEO and other leaders, the CXO helps determine new products or services (or enhancements to existing ones) that will elevate the customer experience.
Because most companies don’t have a dedicated CXO, though, a brand’s experience needs to be continuously managed, analyzed and optimized by the organization’s leaders.
Without your own CXO, what might that look like?
- Create an Experience Team. Just because you don’t have a CXO doesn’t mean you can’t enhance your brand’s customer experience. Gather the internal team members that have a key role in the development and deployment of your company’s products or services; that may be your CEO, CMO, digital lead and sales director.
- Explore the Customer Journey. Drill down into each potential customer interaction, both online and off. Customer journey mapping is a great way to understand all of the touchpoints your customers experience, those “moments between moments” that make a significant impact—both the obvious and unexpected. Is your website user-friendly? Do your employees understand the tenets of instinctual service? Doing this exercise as an “experience team” will help you see the entire picture from many points of view.
- Think “Experience First.” Remember when everyone started talking “mobile first”? Adjust that thinking to experience, and make sure experience is at the very top. Everything you do should be from an “experience is everything” mentality. If your current brand experience is lacking, make adjustments to it until it passes the test. Before you launch new products and services, review your customer journey map to make sure that your customers will receive a top-rate experience every step of the way.
Whether your team has a CXO or an ad-hoc experience team, it’s critical to get your leadership singing from the same “experience is everything” song sheet. With experience as the driving force behind brand loyalty, prioritizing experience can help elevate your brand into an industry leader.