by Kate Kompelien
In the world of customer experience (CX), the ante is continually being upped. What would have been considered extraordinary CX even a few years ago is now seen as the standard. In order to stay ahead of the shifting needs and habits of consumers, companies need to think about the Total Experience they're providing to each person – including staff, partners and other stakeholders – who interacts with them.
Prioritizing the Total Experience not only equips brands to keep up with changing expectations, but it empowers them to better predict and exceed them. In fact, according to Gartner, by 2024, organizations providing Total Experience will outperform competitors by 25% in satisfaction metrics for both customer and employee experience.
What is Total Experience?
Total Experience (TX) is a strategy that takes a multi-experience approach to the melding of a brand’s user experience, customer experience, and employee experience.
That’s a lot of words. Let’s break it down:
- Multi-experience (MX) is the overall experience individuals have with your brand across different digital channels, on different devices, and using different interaction modalities, including touch, voice, and gesture. Multi-experience evolves omnichannel or multichannel engagement models by re-emphasizing the importance of the user experience beyond the connectivity and capabilities of each channel.
- User experience (UX) is the overall design, usability, and functionality of a specific product or service.
- Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all interactions a customer has with a brand before, during, and after a product purchase or service engagement.
- Employee experience (EX) is the sum of all interactions an employee has throughout their tenure with a company, from recruitment to retirement.
By removing the siloes between these elements, TX can help create exceptional experiences for every person who interacts with your brand – whether a customer, employee, or partner.
What's the Difference Between Customer Experience and Total Experience?
Customer experience refers to the relationship developed between a consumer and your brand over time – from the first time they receive your newsletter to the last time they make a purchase. Nurturing this relationship through smart CX investments is a powerful path to building loyalty and revenue.
As valuable as CX is to the growth of both your customer base and your business, it’s only one piece of the larger Total Experience puzzle. TX also factors in the design of your brand’s products and services, the experience consumers have with your brand in separate ways and across different platforms, and the relationship that your employees – the ones creating and overseeing all these experiences – have formed with your brand as well.
Why is Total Experience Important for Your Brand?
We’re seeing a fundamental shift in both customers’ and employees’ expectations of how businesses meet, and even predict, their needs. Consumers now expect consistent, frictionless, dependable interactions with a brand on every platform, on any subject, at any time. Employees expect a company that is responsive to their needs, including readily providing training and tools for them to excel in their roles, whether working from the office or their home.
A cohesive Total Experience has the power to align these interconnected but often disparate experiences to help build the loyalty – among customers and employees alike – needed to drive your business forward. Here are a few ways TX does that:
- Satisfied customers: A survey conducted by McKinsey determined that positive customer experiences lead to 20% higher customer satisfaction rate.
- Engaged employees: Companies with high employee engagement achieve higher productivity, higher customer loyalty, better safety, lower turnover and higher profitability, among other positive business outcomes, according to a Gallup study.
- Greater loyalty: 94% of consumers who rated a customer experience as “very good” were “very likely” to buy from that brand again, according to a Qualtrics report. In fact, CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined, finds Gartner.
- Increased revenue: According to Zendesk, 90% of customers will spend more with companies that personalize the customer service they offer them. In certain industries, even a one-point improvement in CX can result in more than $1 billion in additional revenue, reports Forrester.
By adopting a TX mindset, your business also gains a distinct and sustainable competitive advantage, especially given today’s virtual, mobile, and distributed customer and employee bases.
The Five E’s Framework to Creating a Total Experience
Every TX must start with a 360-degree view of the customer and the employee and ends with – well, nothing. Done right, it never actually ends. For a Total Experience to be total, you need to continually take the pulse of how effective and useful your solutions and services are to users – which, over time, will change as habits and technology do, too. It’s a constant progression, but one bound to keep customers happy, employees engaged, your market share growing, and your business thriving.
To help kickstart your plans, here are the five E’s we use at Avtex to outline a TX strategy specific to our client’s audience and goals:
- Evaluate: How do customers currently perceive your brand? Define your current state, audit your current capabilities, and deliver on your brand promise.
- Envision: What do you want your brand to be known for? Turn your ideas into fact-based experience designs, blueprints, and business cases that will drive growth and reduce costs.
- Execute: What specific steps are needed to take your brand from where it is now to where you want it to be? Build new sales and service delivery models to eliminate friction, develop capabilities, implement design thinking, and launch your experiences.
- Engage: How are you staying in touch with the people who drive your business? Develop and deploy tools, resources, and strategies to engage your employees and customers where they are, using the channels and devices they prefer.
- Evolve: How are you keeping up with your customers, with your employees, and with the times? This is an ongoing step, not a sequential one. At each stage of TX orchestration, create feedback loops, measure and monitor your progress, and advance your program to meet changing needs.
The TX Transformation Maturity Model
Making your TX goals a reality requires strategic orchestration. Too often, brands’ CX efforts rely on random, hurried, and pricey reactive solutions to customer pain points. Worse, those solutions too often miss the underlying issue. By adopting a careful and proactive approach following the Total Experience Maturity Model, you can cut costs, guesswork, and headaches and provide your customers and employees the holistic, predictive, and scalable experiences they want.
TX maturity is founded on five key components:
- Alignment: Gather, brainstorm, and create a clear TX vision for your brand. Understanding: Figure out what people love about your brand and what they don’t.
- Design: Map out the end-to-end TX journey – creating solutions for the pain points, and double-down on the strong suits named in the previous step.
- Orchestration: Implement your TX strategy. Continually test, tweak, and revise.
- Measurement: Collect feedback and user data. Once compiled, put it to use! Ensure everyone on the team understands what’s going well and where further work is required.
Organizations are graded on each of those five components when figuring out their level within the TX Maturity Model. The four possible levels are:
- Limited: Siloed data, unclear goals, inconsistent messaging, and low technological investment means these brands are ill-equipped to respond to customer’s and employee’s needs.
- Ad Hoc: With a basic understanding of their audience, these brands are helping to solve some common pain points. But limited insights, reactive rather than proactive assistance, and a strategy that’s not integrated across all channels means their experiences are incomplete.
- Reliable: Brands at this level have formalized their data collection and are continually testing to improve their efforts, but they may still be working out some kinks in their operating procedures or not differentiating enough between the needs of CX versus EX.
- Embedded: At this highest maturity level, brands are constantly collecting and incorporating data and feedback for the purpose of continually improving their TX. A people-first mindset is part of the culture and change management is an everyday business process here.
Want to learn more? Dive deeper with our Total Experience Playbook.
The 3 Types of Customer Needs
As customer experiences become increasingly sophisticated and employee experiences become more complex, it has become critical to understand needs at a much deeper level. To do so, it helps to categorize them into three buckets: functional, emotional, and social.
- Functional needs address what task the customer is trying to carry out, whether making a purchase, receiving a service, applying for a loan, and so on.
- Emotional needs refer to how individuals want to feel while interacting with a brand.
- Social needs relate to how someone wants to be perceived based on their association with a brand.
Understanding how these needs fall into these categories, the weight your customers and employees give to each of these categories, and how these drivers permeate through the Total Experience can help inform your strategy.
Using Customer Segments and Personas
Before you can start designing and building a total experience across your organization, you need to spend some time understanding your customers at the functional, emotional, and social levels. To accomplish this goal, we recommend building out customer segments and personas. Both frameworks can help you gather the insights needed to craft experiences as unique as your audience.
Segmentation refers to the categorization of your audience based on common characteristics. It can have varying levels of intricacy – from divisions in demographic data, like location, gender, age, or income, at the most basic level to divisions in psychographic attributes, such as motivations, wants, and desires, at the most complex. By dividing your audience up in this way, you can target each group with the promotions, services, and products best suited for them.
While segmentation focuses on groupings, personas consider the individual. Through research, you’ll dive into a person’s affiliations, likes, dislikes, feelings, and expectations at each step of their journey with your brand.
Designing a Total Experience
Now that you have the data on your customers, employees, and partners in hand, it’s time to start designing your Total Experience.
To enable your TX, you will likely have to rethink how your company is currently configured. If your new focus is going to be on customer and employee experiences, you will need to create an operating model (including people, processes, information, and technology) centered around designing and deploying those experiences. As a result, how you measure success should also shift to customer- and employee-centric metrics. These both require buy-in and commitment from executive leadership.
Once leadership agrees on structure and goals, your company can begin delivering a TX that finally and fully matches your brand promise.
Orchestrating a Total Experience
Orchestration refers to the moment-by-moment delivery of your TX strategy. Smooth delivery requires synchronization across teams, channels, and touchpoints – both digital and human. Remember: technology can help enable your orchestration, but it should never drive it. Instead, design the experience you want to supply your audience first, and then work backward to align the technology.
At Avtex, each of the experiences we orchestrate follows the following progression to help turn general audience members into fierce brand loyalists:
- Know me. Understand your customers, employees, and partners through detailed data collection and analysis.
- Help me. Based on that data, provide everyone with the right information at the right time through the right channel. Collect feedback to refine and improve.
- Value me. Invest in technology that makes it easier for people to get what they need from your brand.
With these simple stages in mind, you can create seamless, consistent experiences that drive results – for your customers, your employees, and your brand – no matter where or when they take place.
How to Differentiate Your Total Experience
As we covered, your TX strategy will be unique to your industry, your customers’ and employees’ expectations, and your own brand goals. But the unifying theme is that the people who add value to your brand have priority.
In retail, shoppers get top billing. The Guide to Omnichannel Retailing assists brands in developing a retail strategy that moves away from individual engagements on siloed channels and instead embraces a unified CX model.
In healthcare, the patient comes first. The Patient Experience Roadmap helps organizations navigate the distinct characteristics of their industry to create an experience that puts patients in the driver’s seat of their care.
How Avtex Fuels Exceptional Total Experiences
Brands can no longer view customer experience in a vacuum. The satisfaction of your customers is dependent on the usability of your products and services. That user experience is dependent on the engagement of the employees tasked with creating them. It’s a continuous growth cycle that you are either feeding or starving based on the experiences you provide to the people who touch your brand.
With our industry expertise, innovative end-to-end design, orchestration, and consultation services, Avtex helps brands transform their customer experiences into a true Total Experience. By finding opportunities and gaps in your customer and employee experiences, we facilitate more impactful engagement at every touchpoint in the Total Experience.