While a focus on customer experience (CX) has traditionally been based on transactions with consumers, a full-fledged, experience-led focus is a new way of working that is increasingly being backed by the C-suite, according to new research from Accenture Interactive. The firm’s new report calls this new holistic approach—which is becoming an urgent business imperative—the Business of Experience (BX).
Indeed, a sizable majority (77 percent) of CEOs said they will fundamentally change how their companies interact with customers as a priority to drive business growth, according to the new report, which is based on survey research with over 1,550 executives across 21 countries and 22 industries to understand the role that the customer experience plays in driving long-term business growth, durability and relevance.
According to the research, companies that focus their entire organization around delivering exceptional experiences for their customers, employees and society grow their profitability year-on-year at rates which are at least six times that of their industry peers.
“COVID has pushed experience further into the spotlight, accelerating its significance through every function and employee,” said Brian Whipple, group chief executive of Accenture Interactive, in a news release. “Simply put, when you improve the experience, you improve lives and in turn, you improve business.”
Rapidly evolving customer demands are driving urgency for this new approach
The report notes that while CX has historically been part of the domain of the chief marketing officer (CMO), BX has become a CEO priority as it ties back to every aspect of a company’s operations. And it’s not just the CEO: more than half of chief operating officers (COO) (56 percent), chief strategy officers (CSO) (53 percent) and chief financial officers (CFO) (51 percent) said their company will fundamentally change the way it engages and interacts with its customers.
“To grow in the coming year, every company and leader will need to think about experience differently—especially as nearly everything we do, from how we shop, to how and where we work, to how we interact with others—has been structurally upended,” said Baiju Shah, chief strategy officer of Accenture Interactive, in the release. “An experience renaissance is afoot, and the companies that put experience at the heart of their organization will ignite growth and be our new category of leaders into the year and decade ahead.”
Becoming a Business of Experience
The research shows that leading companies (i.e., companies that are independently performing well in terms of financial growth and business cycle endurance) think about and act on the customer experience differently than their competitors. These leading companies are far more likely to take the following BX approaches, enabling them to consistently outperform their peers.
Customer needs will likely continue to evolve, often unpredictably, beyond the fallout from the pandemic. As a result, companies should invest in ways to uncover customers’ unmet needs, both big and small. The research found that leading companies are twice as likely as others (55 percent vs. 26 percent) to say they have the ability to translate customer data into actions. But many of these same leaders say that there are limits to their data and what they can do as a result. That’s why it matters—to be truly customer obsessed, companies need better ways to dig deep and uncover these needs.
Make experience innovation an everyday habit
Our research shows that leading companies feel better prepared to take advantage of the opportunity to innovate at scale as they are more than twice as likely to have the agility to pivot towards new models that deliver value and relevance to their customers versus their peers.
Expand the experience remit across their organization
Experience is not the responsibility of just the CMO or COO—it’s everybody’s business, from the C-suite down. Every person and every part of the business should be interconnected and collaborative, functioning as one cohesive, customer-obsessed unit, with delivering the best customer experience as its north star.
Synch the tech, data and human agenda
Becoming a business of experience is not about investing more but investing differently. Leaders redirect data, tech and people to enable agility that continuously unlocks efficiencies that can be reinvested in new opportunities for performance and growth. Among leaders, 61 percent said their company has a clear view of which technology platforms they need to leverage to remain competitive and relevant to customers, compared with only 27 percent of their peers.
Accenture Research and Accenture Interactive surveyed over 1,550 top executives worldwide, one-quarter (25%) of whom were CEOs. The survey covered 21 countries and 22 industries. The research, conducted from November 2019 to January 2020, with a refresh in May-June 2020, was designed to study the way that business leaders considered their customers’ experiences and how their companies’ capabilities contributed to experience and business outcomes.