The Customer Experience Imperative: Lessons from the leaders

April 5, 2013

Every day, each of us has experiences that shape our impressions of brands… and the best are investing more and more to make sure that experience is a great one. This was the focus of the Conference Board’s Customer Experience Leadership event in New York on March 21 and 22. With over 125 attendees and speakers ranging from American Express to Mercedes Benz and Ritz Carlton, the conference offered up lots of great ideas.

A surprise for me was the number of attendees who represented B2B oriented companies. The general feeling from this group was an acknowledgement that companies that had never thought about customer and employee experiences now have to invest to be competitive.

Traditionally, experience design has been narrowly confined to retail, travel, entertainment and other similar industries. But over the last fifteen years, the evolution of the Internet has expanded the number of industries that need to think about the “user experience.”

This is a brave new world for many. The integration of digital technology into so much of our daily lives is transforming not only communications and commerce, but a deeper and richer set of experiences across touch points never before placed under the purview of marketing. These touch points must be “brand managed” like other assets.

Most recently, waves of mobile devices and digitally bound social networks have produced a flood of new touch points to manage. And if that were not enough, the “big data” movement that promises to reshape consumer experiences is accelerating. Based on questions and comments from the attendees, one got the sense that this new world is a bit overwhelming for marketers.

During the day-and-a-half event, much of the conference focused on how marketers and brand managers are increasingly being pulled into new challenges that address customer experience design. Specifically, lower level tactical operational design and technology investments are being driven by intense competition and ever-higher customer expectations.

So, where to start? A couple of takeaways that I found to be of value:

The overarching conclusion that I took away from this conference: The customer economy is upon us. High-performance brands are winning market share and customer loyalty by focusing many of their resources on building brands that deliver memorable, emotional and authentic experiences.

As a jump start to help your company become a leader, study the Ritz Carlton approach:

The Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards

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