Regardless of how the technological world changes, organizations that thrive will always consider the lives and emotion of their customers, employees and partners. Often referred to as ”the experience economy,” this way of seeing the world not only combines physical, digital and emotional worlds, but continues to evolve to meet the more emotional and connective needs we have in our lives as technology enables us more and more. As an example, Facebook and LinkedIn are digital platforms, but the human experience of social connection, recognition and creating community lead their success.

Customer-led disruption has dramatically impacted how business blurs the physical, digital and emotional worlds — with the understanding of human emotion at the center. Organizations that build on human needs and respond to customers with innovation and value often reap the rewards. How are these organizations thriving in today’s vibrant and ever-changing environment? 

Prioritizing emotion and purpose

Defined as the customer’s perception of all the interactions they have with an organization and the value it creates for them, customer experience encompasses understanding of: behavior, emotions, memories and the value for the customer that is created with each interaction. Successful organizations transform themselves to be customer-led through the professional discipline of customer experience management. Building connections to customers, providing information about their experiences and enabling employees to work together contribute to delivering great experiences. Whether it’s marketing, sales, care, finance, supply chain or care, everyone contributes to and impacts the experience.

The power of orchestration

Creating brilliant engagement between a human and an organization has become an established discipline that features its own tools, frameworks and impacts on transformative change. It’s about coordinating and optimizing the experience across all the ways customers interact with a brand and meeting the customer’s functional and emotional needs. Organizations that recognize the power of customer-led orchestration create experiences that keep us coming back, referring our friends and family to them, and sharing them on social media. We have all experienced poorly designed experiences that don’t meet our needs or demonstrate that a brand doesn’t understand our life nor values our time.

“Customer experience capabilities are driven by customer experience professionals with the skills, fortitude and experience to lead change.”

Leveraging technology

Technology and digital transformation is a journey with many interconnected customer and organization goals that, in the end, strive towards continuous optimization across an organization’s processes, divisions and ecosystem. On our hyper-connected age, building the right bridges to what a customer is trying to achieve is key to success. As consumers, we want to expend less effort, save more time and have proactive interactions in real time. In the future, customer-led digital transformation should aim to fully leverage the possibilities, opportunities and impacts of new technologies in faster, better and more innovative ways.

Designing human-centered change

Customer experience has been a catalyst for changing the way an organization works. End-to-end customer experience optimization, formal change plans, the creation and practice of human-centered design, and agility and innovation, are key drivers of transformation. Adopting and leveraging all the new ways we can create experiences has created phenomenal opportunities.

Customer-led transformation means the customer experience starts with understanding the customer ecosystem — what they do, what they value, what they want to achieve. It enables that understanding through any channel by building deep emotional connections with customers. It’s the art and science of blending both basic needs — like wanting to buy something — and emotional needs — like wanting to be successful, — that is most powerful. Because in the end, the human heart isn’t so complicated.

Community-wide focus

The critical nature of this work has led to a rise in an executive-level focus on cultural change and adoption of customer, employee and partner-centric thinking. All leaders and employees have key roles in transforming their organization’s customer experience. This means fostering new skills, ways of collaborating, challenging paradigms, shifting cultures and a new way of defining value in human lives. Our goal is to help orchestrate how all the teams work together to build and deliver on the brand. And starting with designing for human needs and creating positive emotions means that we can understand how to design relevant and engaging experiences in a rapidly changing market. Organizations that build these capabilities are leading in an economy where the only differentiation is now the customer experience.

Customer experience capabilities are driven by customer experience professionals with the skills, fortitude and experience to lead change. In 2011, the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) established a community to support leaders performing these roles and creating a robust certification to recognize experts in this burgeoning field. Today, there are over 4500 members with over 400 certified CCXP's. These bold groups of innovators are changing their organizations and creating disruption through experience in the marketplace today.