The 4 Pillars of Experience Maturity in Retail
Experience maturity is about how sophisticated, consistent and connected your customer experiences are as a whole. It’s centered around your organizational structure and how rapidly you can affect changes and updates to those experiences. If your organization is “experience mature,” it's offering distinct omnichannel experiences that are tailored and as regular as you want them to be — daily if you wish.
But how do you reach that level to capture and retain customers and remain competitive?
There are four pillars of experience maturity:
Pillar 1: Devices and Channels
The first pillar revolves around the number of channels where your organization operates. Retailers that have yet to make the move into the online world can be categorized as having limited experience maturity. Those that provide a destination-based web experience (website) are providing the basic tier of a digital experience.
As you progress beyond the traditional website and look to optimize your mobile experience, this will see you migrate to the intermediate maturity. In advanced use cases, however, you’re reaching out beyond these traditional channels and experimenting in new channels, such as Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, voice, and others that connect and embed your organization with your customers’ daily lives.
Pillar 2: Personalized and Differentiated Interactions
Personalized interaction is achieved when your organization is closely connected with its customer base. Essentially, this is the ability to alter the experience of a customer based on the previous preferences they've exhibited, presenting customers with products and content with which they have previously engaged to portray your brand in a favorable way through a personalized offering.
There's a scale of personalization. Organizations that provide “limited personalization” are typically focused on a transactional relationship with customers. This evolves into “promotional interaction” where the customer base is split into segments with targeted messaging. Beyond promotional interactions, “connected experiences” become important, where messaging is consistent for your end customer — e.g., recommending additional products, items and services that complement recent orders.
In the most sophisticated and advanced instances, retailers are able to provide a completely “personalized experience” with offers, promotions and recommendations tailored to the individual. Offering a “differentiated” experience is key to success, as these can drive repeated habits and greater loyalty.
This pillar combining personalization and differentiation is driven by how deeply your organization understands its customers as individuals and then maps their needs to provide them with timely and truly unique solutions.
Pillar 3: Speed and Agility
If your team is making changes and updates to the customer experience(s) annually or quarterly, this slow pace limits your ability to deliver sophisticated experiences as you're unable to iterate, react to changes in the market, or experiment with new ideas. The ideal situation is for your organization to deliver as and when it wants. In short, the faster you can iterate and make changes, the more mature your organization is.
Pillar 4: Organizational Structure and Behavior
Digital experience platforms (DXPs) and customer experience platforms (CXPs) provide the technology to support organizational transformation and, while necessary, you won't achieve that transformation simply by purchasing and integrating the platform. True digital transformation requires not just the integration of technology, but also a shift in thinking and doing. Your business needs to interconnect teams and move from silos to agile workflows with constant feedback loops to evaluate and respond to customer data so you can effectively harness the power of your new platforms.
Organizations with low experience maturity will likely have well established but disconnected departments that typically operate independently, ultimately creating disconnected shopping experiences. As you become more mature, your organization may break out additional teams to run new channels and initiatives to try and manage the additional complexity they present. These team structures can also contribute to and compound the fractured customer experience problem when they aren’t a central focus of your organization.
In organizations with very mature experience structures, there are high degrees of autonomy and collaboration across individuals and teams with well-established processes and workflows. They may have established an innovation team tasked with driving their company forward, and all stakeholders are aligned behind this initiative.
Consider these four pillars and where your business is on them to determine how “experience mature” your organization is. Becoming customer-first and experience-centric places change and agility at the center of your business allowing it to survive, and even thrive, in the 21st century.
James Brooke is the founder and CEO of Amplience, an API-first, headless content management platform for enterprise retail.
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