A great product isn’t enough anymore. Today, experiences differentiate one business from another — and provide the framework for exceptional brand experience.

But how can businesses deliver on ever-growing customer expectations? How do businesses remain competitive when even good customer experience (CX) fails to excite or delight?

As Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen explained, people today want more. “Consumers are seeking phenomenal experiences,” he said.

So are employees, suppliers, vendors, and every other stakeholder affiliated with a company.

Companies compete for the hearts and minds of the people with which they interact — and need to exceed their expectations at every point of the journey, Narayen said.

“Experiences rise above everything else,” Narayen said.

Frictionless Brand Experiences

According to Constellation Research founder R “Ray” Wang, companies need to speak in a singular voice across channels. Unless companies provide that level of brand consistency, then they’ll be unable to provide frictionless brand experiences.

“Everything about your brand – its mission, its purpose, its ethos — has to be reflected across all of your touchpoints,” Wang said.

Related Article: How Chick-fil-A Gets Closer to its Customers

Businesses need to adopt technologies like personalization platforms, which aggregate user data across attributes such as role, identity, time, location, weather, purchase history, browsing history and relationships to create tailored experiences. They enable companies to understand patterns of behavior and anticipate next-best actions, he explained.

In addition, they have to revitalize traditional channels to create more interest, excitement, and engagement.

Retailers, for instance, can get customers into brick-and-mortar stores with special events, price-match guarantees, same-day pickup and curbside service, as well as personal shopping assistants. “As retailers turn their space into experiences and build event-driven marketing programs, expect more immersive experiences to bridge the digital and physical worlds,” Wang wrote in a recent report.

Exceeding CX Expectations

As customer expectations rise, so does the pressure to optimize the service experience across all relevant channels. But what does an extraordinary service experience look like?

In an article in the March issue of the Journal of Business Research, authors Joel E. Collier, Donald C. Barnes, Alexandra K. Abney, and Mark J. Pelletier use the term Idiosyncratic Service Experience (ISE) to represent unique service experiences.

An ISE reflect perceived employee effort, surprise, and perceived employee empathy. ISE’s can lead to the positive emotional response of delight.  That impacts self-enhancing word-of-mouth, price consciousness, and tolerance to failure, they write.

Conceptional framework for Idiosyncratic Service Experiences

Conceptional framework for Idiosyncratic Service Experiences

“Companies such as Four Seasons, Nordstrom, and Zappos do not have books and articles written about them because they provide ‘good’ service. No, these companies strive for experiences that are so unique that customers are surprised by the lengths the firm will go to make a customer happy.

“From these companies, it seems that a truly extraordinary service experience is often a direct result of the interpersonal interaction between the frontline employee and the customer, whereby the employee provides something to the customer that other providers will not, cannot, or refuse to do,” they continue.

Getting CX Right

But no one ever said providing the best customer experience — and, ultimately, memorable brand experiences — is easy.

Related Article: Mo Bunnell Offers BIG Ideas on Customer Experience

In its Predictions 2018 report, Forrester analysts warned that customer expectations are outpacing the abilities of companies to evolve or invent experiences.

Specifically, it forecast that 30 percent of companies will see further declines in customer experience (CX) performance — “and those declines will translate into a net loss of a point of growth, they wrote.

“Smart executives will intervene to make CX an internal disruptive force, one that is underpinned by the fundamentals of CX management with customer trust at the core,” Forrester analysts predicted.

Arke CX Summit

Next week, at Arke’s third annual CX Summit, customer experience practitioners will share how they are successfully Leading the Experience.

Now in its third year, CX Summit is a one-day forum for Arke clients, partners, and invited guests.

The event includes targeted facilitated workshops, presentations from informative speakers, and a networking happy hour. It will be held at the Buckhead Club in Atlanta.

All of the speakers were selected for their insights about customer-focused strategies and technologies.

Michael Lage, senior manager of digital experience at Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, a half-century old family-owned restaurant chain, is one of the scheduled speakers.

Great experiences, he said, flow from the intentional use of the time you spend with your customers.

“It’s always been about getting to know your customers and caring for them personally. Now we have the ability to do that at scale. We have the ability to do that in a way that’s even cooler, more convenient and personal than ever before,” he said.

Do you lead your company’s marketing, sales, IT, or customer experience efforts? Join us April 18 at the Buckhead Club in Atlanta for the Arke CX Summit. Register now!

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.