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The Future is Experience — Are You Ready?

The Future is Experience — Are You Ready?

Medallia CEO Leslie Stretch shares his views on the future of experience and why connecting the customer experience needs to be the top priority for organizations today.

From new variants and vaccines to changing public health guidance across every part of the globe, it’s been hard to know what’s coming next. We’ve seen a decade’s worth of digital transformation happen in what has seemed like months. The customer journey has been forever altered and we now face a daunting reality: an uncertain future.

The world has changed and we are not going back to the way things were. 

Customer experience is your early warning system

Customer experience has become the most critical function — discipline, philosophy, technology, strategic approach, lever, or however you want to describe it — that a company can use to drive growth. 

It is the foundation for both business operations and strategy. As leaders, you are the frontlines leading this charge. 

To get — and to stay — ahead in this new world, brands must understand their customers and employees across every touchpoint. It’s the only way organizations can be ready to adapt and innovate to meet rising expectations, overcome unpredictable market conditions and deliver seamless experiences.

The challenge? Consumers are in the driver’s seat. Their behaviour is changing faster than ever and it’s hard to know what they want.

If you’re paying attention though, the future doesn’t have to seem so blurry. But all too often, we miss the signals that help us predict the future. We take actions for the majority based on the views of the vocal minority. We accept the majority is silent, when in reality, we’re just not listening. 

Experiences aren’t digital vs. human, they’re digital and human

Digital transformation may have simplified our ability to pick up groceries curbside or get prescription refills delivered to our doorstep, but it has also connected us to the real people who are now answering the phone, picking out our produce and delivering our goods. We appreciate the simplicity of the online order, but we value the care and attention people take to solve our problems and make sure we have the freshest fruits and vegetables for the week.

The customer experience isn’t digital vs. human. It’s digital and human — and everything in between. While everyone in the organization needs a personalized view to drive the right impact for their slice of the customer journey, your customers expect a single, cohesive and connected experience that makes them feel known and understood across every interaction. 

Look at the digital experience, the heart of many brands today. The online visitor is smarter, more connected, and expects more than ever from their online experience. But not everyone that visits your website or uses your mobile app provides explicit feedback, which means there is a knowledge gap around what’s happening in those mouse movements and in between clicks. 

Customers want and expect a personalized and seamless experience from the first time they click on an ad, use your product, visit your storefront or contact customer service. If they don’t get it, they will leave with the click of a button.

We may call this digital disruption, but the upheaval has impacted all aspects of experience and every part of the enterprise. 

Focus on the front lines and empower your people

Contact centers have been thrust to the forefront. With in-person interactions limited, calls have surged, all while customer service agents are working in new remote environments. While there is data around every customer and agent interaction, contact centers haven’t been able to easily ingest, interpret, and act on those insights to improve the customer and agent experience. Customers are telling you what they expect out of your product, how they want to be served, and where you can improve, but are you listening?

It’s not just contact center agents who have faced rapidly changing work conditions. We are in the midst of a talent revolution that too many companies still deny exists. Those who are not actively redesigning experiences for a distributed workforce — hoping that all this is all just temporary — will lose the war for talent. 

Every single day, employees run into obstacles that get in the way of them performing their best work. To improve the employee experience, companies need a way to capture not only what the company wants to hear from their employees, but what their employees really want to tell them. By understanding your people, you can activate their untapped power to improve every area of your business and the customer experience.

Make every team and system across the enterprise customer aware

Digital transformation isn’t about moving processes from offline to online. It’s about unlocking value by letting technology bring together data, simplify processes, automate the mundane and empower people. 

From the moment customers click on your website, visit your storefront, or call with a question, you must engage and listen to them. You need to not only capture and bring together all those signals, but turn them into insights that can make every system and team across the enterprise customer aware. Only then can you begin breaking down silos and empowering your entire workforce to deliver the seamless and personalized experience customers expect across every interaction.

Business success — as measured by the metrics most important to organizations of all sizes and across industries — is driven by the experience you deliver to your employees and customers.

Are you ready for the future of experience? Here are 22 bold predictions to help you begin connecting the customer experience.

President & CEO, Medallia
Before joining Medallia, Leslie served as President and CEO of CallidusCloud for over 10 years, until the company’s acquisition by SAP. Previously, Leslie spent nearly a decade at Sun Microsystems where he held the position of Senior Vice President of Global Channel Sales and was the Managing Director of Sun Microsystems U.K. Ltd. Before joining Sun, Leslie held various sales positions at Oracle Corporation.