Last week, more than 1,700 leaders in employee engagement, marketing, customer experience (CX) and brand management descended on The InterContinental O2 for X4 London – the biggest event in Europe dedicated to experience management.
Qualtrics CEO and co-founder Ryan Smith, set the tone of the day in his opening keynote, discussing how companies can instrument businesses with the right tools to create experience breakthroughs. His conclusion? Everyone loves disruptive companies. From taxis to personal finance to hospitality, brands that recognise gaps and deliver great experiences are rewarded above those that do not.
Some of Europe’s biggest brands, including Google, Three and Unilever, joined Smith to share how they are making the shift to being experience-led organisations that uncover breakthrough insights – for both customers and employees.
Here are some insights we took away from the sessions on how your brand can leverage the new experience economy:
Technology as both friend and foe
Unilever’s Stan Sthanunathan, Executive Vice President - Consumer & Market Insights, stressed why embracing emerging tech is the new imperative for businesses that want to differentiate, but it’s not clear cut: “In business, there is a desire to adopt either a ‘friend’ or ‘foe’ mindset when it comes to AI. Instead, we see the technology as a ‘frenemy’ with both positive and negative attributes.”
He went on to say how there is no substitute for the consumer knowledge and intimacy that only a human can provide. Yet at the same time, AI can help unleash human creativity. Sthanunathan was clear that adopting this approach will help businesses augment human intelligence, rather than replace it.
The problem is that too many companies see AI as something to be feared; a technology that will remove or replace humans from the working world. Rather than resisting this change, organisations need to embrace and leverage AI to free up the resources that human staff have to offer and disrupt the industries that are not competing on experience.
A place for face-to-face
In today’s digital age, face-to-face meetings are becoming rarer, as email, messaging and other forms of digital communications become the norm. Yet face-to-face interactions can be incredibly valuable.
Sebastian McClintock, Director Customer Experience at Delivery Hero, discussed how in-person interviews with customers helped the company to understand the real meanings and sentiments behind their survey responses.
According to McClintock, the online food ordering leader took key learnings from this proactive collection of customer feedback to take its “digital experience to another level and make ordering dinner easy, fun and personalised.”
This approach enabled the company to connect operational data (the when and how) with experience data (the why), leading to practical, localised and personalised insights such as when customer dissatisfaction is most likely to happen, the most likely causes of this and the emotions behind what happens next.
Being able to accurately pinpoint these moments and react before a customer becomes unhappy ensures customer satisfaction remains on track and means that all of the collected data is put to use in the most effective way possible.
Experience is the differentiator
Organisations are all too aware that they are fighting to differentiate from their rivals, but as Qualtrics CEO and co-founder Ryan Smith highlighted in his keynote, many companies are looking in the wrong place for the solution to bring a breakthrough. Instead of prioritising price, these organisations should be making experience a main focus. Otherwise, many businesses will either unintentionally race to the top or unknowingly race to the bottom.
Organisations today are overwhelmed by operational data, or ‘O’ data—actual records of tangible activities. The more O data you have, the more you can differentiate, right? Not really, because, as Smith pointed out, this only tells half the story.
Instead of more data, companies need to think ‘different’ data. “The best organisations instrument the business with experience data and find breakthroughs that accelerate growth”, said Smith on stage. This experience data, or ‘X’ data, is the human factor data; the emotions, beliefs and intentions that tell a business why things are happening and what’s going to happen next.
X-data is how you create breakthroughs, perfect experiences and it’s how you win in even the most competitive of markets. Otherwise, the race will be over, and organisations not competing on experiences will be disrupted by someone else.