Everything but the usual: The rise of the experience business

by Ewan Miller

What does it mean to be an “experience business”? And how do you market that? Adobe Symposium attendee and Filtered Media storyteller, Ewan Miller hunts for the answers…

“The experience business is the biggest disruption we’ve seen in decades!” Brad Rencher proclaimed to a rapt crowd of thousands at this year’s Adobe Symposium conference.

As Adobe’s EVP and GM of Digital Marketing, he should know. “Experience businesses have Net Promoter Scores 22 points higher than non-experience businesses,” he said, adding that they also experience “double digit higher growth”.

“If you’re not already an experience business, you’re falling behind.”

Across the two-day conference, two major themes dominated discussions held by Australia’s largest brands on the future of customer experience: the necessity of total corporate transformation to hold customer experience at the core, and the experience revolution represented by artificial intelligence (AI)-powered personalisation.

“Transformation is all or nothing”

Total transformation was the mantra of Paul Robson, Adobe’s president for Asia Pacific, as he opened the conference with a call to action for Australian companies to place customer experience (CX) at the core of their business.

In most organisations with an explicit approach to managing customer experience, this effort is subordinated to the marketing department and their greater goals, while others have dedicated CX departments parallel to marketing with their own executives.

In his address, Robson rejected both of these approaches, encouraging his audience to work towards “embracing experiences as a part of their journey, not just from a marketing perspective but for the entire organisation”.

This was particularly important, he said, in the context of Amazon’s imminent rollout of its full inventory in Australia, which “won’t just impact the retail landscape, but will change the public’s experience expectations across all verticals”.

“This gives us a mandate within all of our companies to transform ourselves, but transformation is all or nothing.”

“We all have to be stewards of the customer’s experience,” said Rencher, “which requires unparalleled choreography of all your technology and doesn’t permit organisational divisions”.

“We all have to dedicate ourselves to delighting our customers at every turn.”

“Give me the usual”

Businesses have been personalising their services since time immemorial, from 16th century Flanders tavern owners, who kept portraits of Habsburg, Capetian, Bourbon and Oranje rulers in their cellar so as not to offend invading troops, to present-day baristas who know that you prefer soy to dairy.

However, we’re now standing at the precipice of technology enabling scalable dynamic personalisation across large organisations. In other words, being able to provide customers with the most pertinent, bespoke content across whatever channel they’re engaging with.

Among the most ardent proponents of personalisation is Qantas CMO Stephanie Tully, who shared the story of the legacy brand’s transformation in 2014, which involved a complete digital transformation to enable complete personalisation.

“When you think about data, focus on individuals, rather than channels,” she said, describing personalised data as an iceberg, where easily gathered data such as gender and age represents the tip of a mountain of hidden data.

“In the future, all channels, even radio and TV, will be one-to-one and personalised.

“How you use your data and manage the personalisation of those channels will determine your success.”

 

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