by Rob Church
We are living in an experience economy, which means that if you can perfect your customer experience, you will be able to build brand loyalty. Experience differentiation is key to being remembered and preferred by customers again and again, and businesses that do not develop and prioritize this differentiator will get left behind.
What Is The Experience Economy?
Our economy has shifted as the market and consumers’ preferences have evolved. In 1999 (and re-released in 2020), Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, authors of The Experience Economy, shared that the evolution of our economy can be summarized through four phases: agriculture, industrial, service, and experience.
During the agriculture economy, people paid a mere few cents for coffee and other simple farm commodities. As the agriculture economy progressed into the industrial economy, people began valuing pre-mixed and pre-packaged goods. Later the service economy took hold and busy individuals prioritized convenience over price. Today, everything is about the experience, and we will happily pay more for good experiences.
The experience economy is all about creating memorable experiences for customers. That experience, and the memory of it, becomes the competitive differentiator.
So, to thrive in an experience economy, businesses must place customer experience at the center of business strategy. Customers will compare every interaction with a business or brand to their last great customer experience. That means that you must pay attention to the experience other businesses are offering, whether they are direct competitors or not, and consider the impact on customer expectations of your brand experience.
What Is Customer Experience Differentiation?
A customer experience differentiator is defined as an experience that, when delivered consistently to all customers, makes a business or brand stand head and shoulders above the competition.
For example, think of your favorite local coffee shop. Now think about whether you visit only because of the coffee, or also because of the experience. You likely wouldn’t go if the coffee was terrible, but if good coffee was all that mattered, you could just buy coffee to drink at home. Customers typically select coffee shops for more than just the quality of coffee: they visit the place with the best service and the most charming environment, and they are willing to queue a few extra minutes and pay a few extra cents for that premium experience. Interestingly enough, during COVID-19, it was normal experiences with baristas and cashiers that kept many individuals sane.
To truly differentiate and stand out from competitors, businesses must focus on improving the experience that they offer. Today’s customers may or may not remember a brand for its logo or website template, but there is no doubt they will remember and hold onto an outstanding experience.
How to Deliver Differentiated CX in the Experience Economy
Businesses that wish to deliver a memorable customer experience must stay hyper-focused on a customer’s functional and emotional needs. The product or service will of course need to be high quality, but it must also be delivered to the customer with ease, in a timely manner, and in a way that makes their life easier.
As you hone a differentiated customer experience, it isn’t enough to avoid being remembered for the wrong reasons. Your brand must strive to be remembered for all the right reasons in order to shine over your competitors. This means making customer experience a key part of your business strategy, as opposed to an afterthought. It should be your North Star, the focal point and the key to success for your entire organization, and it should be defined and consistent across the brand experience. Consider successful brands that are doing this today, like the Ritz Carlton whose North Star is the comfort of their customers, or Microsoft who places innovation at the center of everything they do.
Leaders in customer experience take this North Star concept very seriously, making sure that every single person in the business is working towards this goal of delivering a differentiated, on-brand experience to every customer. To build a customer experience brand differentiator, it must be factored into every business decision for every employee, from the C-Suite to the contact center.
Our team can help you define your customer experience strategySee our solution
Focusing on Experience Differentiation
Are you leveraging customer data to provide the best possible experience at every touchpoint? Does every member of your team have access to the technology they need to contribute to an outstanding omnichannel experience?
Data and technologies like cloud, AI, and marketing automation are crucial to the delivery of an experience that will stand out to your customers. But it’s not enough to invest in these technological components. To deliver a truly differentiated customer experience one final question will need to be answered: Is the experience for your customers smooth, straightforward, and memorable? If you can also answer yes to this question, then you are well on your way to delivering an experience your customers are sure to value and remember.
At Avtex, we define customer experience as the sum of all interactions an individual has with your brand before, during and after a product purchase or service engagement. As you strive to differentiate your brand, we can help you to streamline processes. We’ll work with you to create a responsive and flexible customer experience strategy that can evolve and grow, with the agility to meet changing customer preferences and shifts in consumer demand.