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What is Total Experience strategy?

Posted: May 08, 2023
Read time: 8 minutes
#CX Strategy
Bottom Curve

Anyone working in the Customer Experience field knows that once you start digging deeper you realize that customers are not the only stakeholders that impact Customer Experience. Think of your organization as a living organism that works as an open and fluid ecosystem including customers, employees, suppliers, partners, investors, shareholders, etc. In practice the ecosystem is full of silos, both internal and external, causing inefficiencies in operations as well as producing poor experiences. Each of the involved parties has different needs and expectations with regards to the organization in terms of the experience they are looking to receive and provide, but are having difficulties interacting because of the way the structure is set.

Let’s call the efforts invested in creating a positive experience for the different stakeholders a “Human Experience Discipline” and the aggregated experiences they produce as “Total Experience”. Having said that, we could define the Total Experience (TX) strategy as an approach that aims to create superior shared experiences by linking the Human Experience disciplines together.

In this article I will focus on the intersection between customer experience and employee experience as the foundational element of the Total Experience approach upon which other types of experiences can be designed.

Gartner estimates that by 2024, organizations who provide a Total Experience will outperform competitors by 25% in satisfaction metrics for both CX and EX. By 2026, they expect 60% of large enterprises to employ this approach to transform their business models and achieve "world-class customer and employee advocacy levels".

The totality of the experience

Think of Total Football for a moment, this disruptive philosophy allows every player on the field to change positions, play a fluid role and frequently interchange to create various attacking patterns of football play. The structure is based on trust, empowerment, team interaction and constant adaptation to changes on the field.

Total Football and Total Experience

The Total Experience approach is similar in the sense that it looks at the organization as an ecosystem that generates constant interactions between customers, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders, to continuously transform the business reactively and proactively as a response to market fluctuations.

Total Experience strategy is a people-centric approach that is all about improving the experience for anyone who is involved or engaged with the business.

By connecting the Human Experience disciplines, and improving them as a whole, a business will differentiate themselves from their competitors in ways that are hard to copy. Because it is based on constant movement and change, Total Experience enables businesses to be more agile and take advantage from disruptions such as COVID-19 or remote working and turn them into a competitive advantage.

Breaking the inner and outer siloes

Employee Experience impacts Customer Experience, but since they evolved as separate business disciplines, these experiences are rarely brought together. More often, companies have dedicated teams and information systems to each practice that run independently from one another. What I suggest here is that silos don’t only exist within the business, but also outside between employees and customers. 

Breaking the inner and outer siloes

The barriers that are in place, as part of the designed customer journey, are the ones that bring inefficiency to the operating model in various forms of communication and data issues and are a source of frustration for both employees and customers.

Bringing these disciplines together will help organizations build trust and open communication between the different stakeholders throughout the customer lifecycle, fostering brand loyalty across channels and touchpoints. This will also increase knowledge and insights of customer needs and expectations and improve employee engagement and satisfaction, which in turn will influence the level of service they provide to customers. Improving operational efficiency, by focusing on customer priorities and wasting less time on initiatives that bring low value, will also boost productivity.

When both the inner siloes between departments and the outer siloes between customers and employees reduce, a positive impact is generated. Top talents are attracted due to better employee experience plus top customers come and stay due to better brand reputation.

Where do we start? Bringing CX and EX together

Total Experience strategy is a holistic approach, but the starting point in my opinion should be the two basic HX disciplines that define every organization: customers and employees.

According to PwC research, 32% of consumers are susceptible to leave a brand following just one bad experience. The research states that what consumers are looking for are speed, convenience, helpful employees and friendly service, which the organization needs to provide in order to stay competitive in the market.

So it’s increasingly important to identify the intersections between these two disciplines (and experiences) to gain this competitive advantage, but also as a survival measure in the post-pandemic era that pushed the hybrid work model and reshuffled customer journeys. Organizations today can feel fragmented and need to create a better alignment between the employees that provide the service, and the customers that receive the service, to make sure that there are minimal friction points in experiences.

A good place to start would be initiating an Employee Experience Program that will complete the Customer Experience view by capturing the voice of the front-line employees (such as customer service, marketing or sales) that can share customer satisfaction feedback in different areas of the journey. The other aspect to handle is the internal "hire to retire" employee journey to identify the pain points that need solutioning; making sure that employees feel valuable, that they have the right technology and tools to provide the service and that the organization provides proper opportunities to advance their career.

My recommendation is to combine the Customer Experience Program and the Employee Experience Program under the same ‘Human Experience’ hood; that is using the same methodologies to optimize experiences, looking at the connection points between the customer journey and the employees that provide the product or service, to detect the areas that require changes in the operating model.

By implementing a TX strategy, you can design a 360-degree experience that motivates and makes it easier for your employees to work, improve customer service, and therefore impact Customer Experience.

How to create the connection between Customer Experience and Employee Experience

Every organization is providing an experience to its customers whether they do it intentionally in a designed manner or as a random experience, which is an outcome of the operational process. The Customer Experience practice has tools and methodologies that allow the brand to optimize the customer journey and implement solutions that generate value. Looking at the CX practice as the cornerstone allows you to apply the same methodology to other stakeholders such as your employees.

This is done by:

  • Promoting trust and transparency between customers and employees, making clear at each stage of the journey which task the persona is trying to complete and how the employees are going to make it happen
  • Breaking down the siloes and merging the front office and back office while using digital technology that engage and connect all team members
    Creating user friendly interfaces that are used both by employees and customers, centralizing shared data, increasing user engagement and creating an enjoyable experience that continually keeps them coming back
  • Simplifying operational processes hence reducing the time it takes to accomplish a mission and making it easy to do business with the organization
  • Designing an Employee Experience strategy, building employee personas, mapping employee journeys and using the same prioritization and measurement concept, as done in CX, leveraging on existing methodologies for the benefit of improving the experience of the ones that serve the customer. It’s a win-win situation.

Practical steps to a Total Experience strategy

The goal of the Total Experience approach is to provide an exceptional experience for everyone who interacts with your brand: customers, employees, partners, suppliers, shareholders and others.

The concept sounds logical, but achieving it is a different story, because of the siloed structure of organizations, which is especially impacting the transaction points between departments and customers. It is thus essential to focus on these moments, when developing a TX strategy, to assure friction is minimal and positive experience is optimal.

To make the connection between customers and employees, the organization needs to put in place a fluid communication flow, user friendly tools, simplified processes and a culture of transparency that can help deliver the best possible experience across all channels and touchpoints.
Based on this foundation, extensions to other stakeholders can be established in the path of building a positive experience for everyone.

Don’t be overwhelmed by such a holistic approach, there’s much common sense in this as a business digital transformation strategy. In future articles I will share some key insights, based on my own experiences in how you can make a start to practically shape a Total Experience model for your organization.

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