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Maya Angelou once said that while people may forget what you said and did, they will never forget how you made them feel. In recent years, the truthfulness of those words has given rise to a new type of business model: the experience business.

Data shows that high-growth brandsbusinesses with annual growth of 10% or higher—are the ones that recognize the expectations of the customer journey and deliver on them. The right tools and knowledge can help you build a rewarding customer-centric and data-driven experience business.

Key takeaways:

  • Experience businesses take a holistic approach to being customer-centric, from the CEO to each employee. These businesses shift their focus from trying to make customers like their products to making their products fit customer needs.

  • One way to connect with buyers is by including people of diverse backgrounds and experiences in your brand’s message.

  • Customers are willing to share their data if there is transparency and if the customer benefits from that exchange.

  • Instead of drawing customers to the physical or digital channels you provide, know your audience and meet them where they are.

  • Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to correctly interpret information and make data-driven choices.

What is an experience business?

An experience business provides superb experiences to its customers throughout their journey. Shoppers expect seamless experiences across all of a brand’s touchpoints and channels. An experience business not only keeps up with these expectations but anticipates them by delivering content that’s relevant, consistent and engaging.

The customer experience (CX) paved the way for experience businesses. These businesses take a holistic approach toward ensuring customer satisfaction. Instead of limiting the task to the chief marketing officer (CMO) or chief operating officer (COO), an experience business makes the customer the focus across the entire organization, including the CEO.

The CEO makes customer interaction and appreciation the organization’s fundamental purpose which impacts internal processes. These businesses shifted their focus from making customers like their products to making their products fit the needs and wishes of customers.

Companies that transform into an experience business effectively will thrive and succeed within the experience management ecosystem. In fact, high performing experiential businesses make six times more yearly profit than other companies in the same industry.

4 ways to build a successful experience business

How can you shape a winning digital experience business and boost retention? Let’s look at four facets of a business in which incorporating customer-centric considerations are essential.

  1. Inclusivity in marketing

One way to gain a competitive advantage and foster customer loyalty is by including people of diverse backgrounds and experiences in your messaging. A study from Deloitte (linked above) showed that approximately one-third of young people, those aged 25 and under, took note of “representative advertising” when making their purchases. Here are some examples to help you get started:

  • There’s a growing bi- or multi-racial population. Include product models of varying races and ethnicities.

  • The word “model” doesn’t apply to someone of a particular height or weight. Use models of varying body types, shapes and sizes. Though not limited to them, clothing and apparel companies can significantly benefit from this practice.

  • A segment of the population lives with disabilities. For instance, how will you reach customers that are blind? Does your message speak to those unable to walk or are hearing-impaired?

Be authentic in showing diversity. Digital marketing is one aspect but does your organization reflect inclusivity in the workplace and promote it in the community?

  1. First-party data strategy

Have you ever had a chat with a friend about a food or drink you enjoy and then looked at your phone only to find an ad for that exact item? Did you see that as “creepy”? You’re not alone. The same study from Deloitte reported that 53% of customers viewed active listening from businesses as creepy and can hurt a brand’s relationship with them.

That is why sixty-one percent of high-growth businesses are shifting to a first-party data strategy.

In the landscape of increased personal privacy protection, these companies are abandoning the use of third-party cookies. Instead, the company itself collects, compiles and owns the data about its customers. 

How does a business acquire the data? The company can record digital and in-person interactions, purchase history, web or mobile app behavior, loyalty status and buyer preferences. Once it has this information, a business can make data-driven, customer-centric experiences such as targeted advertising and product recommendations.

The Deloitte data shows that customers are willing to share their information with businesses if there is transparency and if the customer benefits from that exchange (e.g., special offers, repurchase reminders). 

Four steps an experience business follows to be transparent to customers about their data

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  1. Tailoring channels to customers

Where does the customer prefer to interact with your business? Is it in the store, on your e-commerce website, through an app or social media? Some people value face-to-face interactions, while others are fine with chatting through text messages. Instead of drawing customers to the physical or digital channels you provide, know your audience and meet them where they choose

For example, virtual reality headsets are gaining prominence as a channel where customers interact with businesses. Do you know if you have customers that may fit that demographic? If so, see how you can reach out to them through VR. The inverse is also true. If you notice that your customers don’t like a particular digital or physical channel, don’t keep investing in it. Divert attention to the ones that are popular with your buyers.

  1. AI in customer service

How does a company know the best offer for a particular customer and when to advertise it? How can a business equip its service agents with the needed data to provide customers with a high level of service to assist them in making the most suitable purchases? Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to correctly interpret the information and make data-driven choices.

The following infographic displays areas where businesses can integrate AI.

Four ways to incorporate artificial intelligence in customer service

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Build a successful experience business with Optimizely

A successful experience business needs a robust toolset to manage data, gain real-time insights and quickly innovate to deliver relevant and personalized experiences to customers. Optimizely’s Intelligence Cloud is just that product. Intelligence Cloud performs advanced automation and experimentation, using the latest in AI. Bring in data from any digital channel with one click and transform it into customer profiles to create delightful experiences across all avenues.

Contact Optimizely today to see how we can help you build a winning experience business.