The Evolution of Customer Experience

We live in an age of continual disruption. One wave follows another. And with the good comes the challenges. Speaking at the NextCon17 conference in Scottsdale, Arizona Oct. 23 – 25, 2017, Brian Solis, a principal analyst studying disruptive technology and its impact on business at Altimeter Group, explained why all this disruption has given us so many new tech trends and “so many new things to learn.”

“The foundation of business is so dated,” Solis added. Before we can learn what to do, we “need to unlearn [what we know] in order to do things differently.”

The Evolution of Customer Experience

One shift in business behavior has been the swing toward a more customer-centric way of doing business. This change has made “customer experience” (or CE) one of the most popular business buzzwords of the last few years. Solis dubs this transformational change in customer behavior “Digital Darwinism.”

He explained, “As technology evolves, society evolves. And all that evolution impacts social behaviors.”

How do you become more customer-centric? Here’s some of what you need to know.

Change Your Perspective

Solis maintains in order to deliver a great customer experience, you need to shift your perspective. This involves changing how you think about customers in general.

“When we’re talking about CE, we have to get out of the mind of work personas,” Solis said. The things businesses seem to miss, when making decisions [that will affect customers], is that they are not their customers; they’re stakeholders, which is the least empathetic [perspective] possible.”

How to Become More Customer-centric

Here are some tips Solis suggests to become more customer-centric in crafting your customer experience.

  • Start by putting yourself “in the mind, body and soul of your customers — in every moment.”
  • Companies need to “think about not what’s best for the business, but what’s best for the customers.”
  • It’s not about you. “Customers don’t care about your company’s silos or departments,” Solis said. They care about what you can do for them, he said.
  • Ask yourself, “What can we do better?”
  • Take a “step back and see things differently.”

Everyone’s a Competitor

Businesses today face a myriad of new competitors.

“We all compete against companies like Uber and Airbnb,” he said.

And this is the case even if you’re not in the same industry.

“Those companies set the standard for how people want to be engaged today.” Solis added.  And the customer experience they deliver changes how customers perceive they are treated by all businesses.

Essentially all businesses “are competing against every company that’s breaking boundaries,” Solis said. That’s why businesses must “rethink everything” in order to survive, he said.


All innovation starts “with the customer — and with a shift in perspective,” Solis said. Notice a pattern?

Solis has created a “Pyramid of Purposeful Innovation.” The pyramid explains business innovation this way: “Fix what people dislike. Learn what they love. And give them something they didn’t know they wanted and now can’t live without.”

The Evolution of Customer Experience

Why Customers Leave

During his presentation, Solis suggested a few important reasons customers leave:

  • 63 percent of consumers may leave a brand “due to irrelevant content. Of that group, 41 percent would consider ending that brand relationship due to irrelevance — and 22 percent already have.”
  • 71 percent of consumers say inconsistent cross-channel messaging affects their experience, according to Forrester.
  • 10 percent of consumers say inconsistencies from device to device would make them leave that brand. (In other words, make sure customer experience is consistently good whether customers reach you via desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.)
  • Only 35 percent of businesses map their customers’ journeys to find problems. You have to navigate your customers’ journeys to understand their perspective.

It’s Emotional

Customers are emotional. They often feel anxious. How they experience your business is an emotional experience for them. To understand their emotions, you need to have empathy for them.

“Modern companies must be relevant, useful, trustworthy, empathetic and respectful,” Solis added.

All About Apps

Due to the customer experience other companies provide, today’s customers have different expectations of your business.

  • If you offer an app, they’re comparing it to apps from Google and Apple. Gen C is looking at their phones 1,500 times a week, or 177 minutes a day. That shapes what they expect to see from your business.
  • Apps are designed to be addictive — to get consumers to open them and share.
  • Customer experience is not just about a digital experience, but an in-store one as well. However, that doesn’t mean digital doesn’t count. Solis explained, “Customers want to feel like physical spaces are designed for their digital lifestyle.”
  • This changes how consumers perceive images as well. “The brain sees things quicker if [they’re] visualized like an app,” Solis added.

The Evolution of Customer Experience

Mindset is Everything

Understanding the customer mindset is not about what we think matters. It’s about what the customer cares about. And our businesses must follow this new mindset. Solis explained, “Innovation is all the work you do to conform to expectations and aspirations of people as they evolve instead of making them conform to your legacy perspectives, assumptions, processes and metrics of success.”

Customer experience is obviously complex. Solis calls it “the sum of all engagements” you have with your customers, adding “The only way you can change your business and innovate is to look at things differently. Flip your perspective.”

Solis’ presentation resonated with the audience at NextCon17. Small business expert Barry Moltz added, “I think Brian Solis is right on. This is a customer experience economy.”

But ultimately, we need to remember, that though we’re undergoing a digital transformation, technology is not the only solution.

“We’re talking about how to make human beings feel better. In a world of machines, humanity is the killer app,” Solice added.


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