Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

Book Excerpt: Brian Solis on Why the Future of Business Is Experiential

by Mitra Sorrells, BizBash

In his new book, the digital analyst and futurist explains how to create and cultivate meaningful experiences.

As a principal analyst at the Altimeter Group, a research-based business advisory firm, Brian Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. His latest book, available October 19, is X: The Experience When Business Meets Design. In it, Solis contends that in today’s always-on, always-connected world, customer experience is what drives a brand’s reputation, and therefore marketers need to be effective experience architects. Using examples from companies such as Disney, Apple, Lego, Starbucks, and more, Solis shares tips on how to design meaningful experiences. Here are some excerpts.

Chapter 1.1: CX = $
The bottom line is that for most companies, customer experience is not truly a priority. They manage it instead of lead it. They scale and optimize their current practices, generally focusing on some technology fixes and doing good marketing. No amount of advertising or marketing can override the effects of a poor experience with your people or products. People will talk and people will listen.

Chapter 1.2: Medium = The Message
It’s easy, even natural, to become fixated on technology when discussing experiences these days, and I call this common pitfall mediumism. This is the trap businesses fall into when they jump on every new generation of platforms and channels, be that apps, social media, or wearable computers, without crafting a rich experience tailored to the customers’ needs and desires.

Chapter 2.3: Moments of Truth
I’ve spent the better part of the last two decades studying how technology affects human behavior and continues to disrupt businesses. One of the most profound things I’ve learned is that how you make people feel is the currency that consumers exchange to inform their decisions. If you love something, you share it. If you dislike something, you share it. The worst are those experiences that are so passive or uninspiring that people quietly react with a sense of meh or nothing at all.

Chapter 3.1: CX Redux
Starbucks, Zappos, Sephora, and a growing number of companies employ a person responsible for this. His or her title ranges from chief digital officer to chief customer officer to chief innovation officer, and these all share a common focus: to deliver a desired experience across every channel and every screen and at every step during the customer lifecycle. And they’ve organized once-disparate teams into one integrated, cross-functional department responsible for a consistent experience across all physical and digital touch points.

Chapter 4.1: Design for Humans
HCD [human-centered design] takes a step back to see the whole person, not merely thinking of customers as users of your product, but rather in the wider context of living their daily lives. A fundamental principle is that we can learn a great deal about how to better serve people by understanding how they spend their time not only with our products, but in all other walks of life.

Chapter 4.3: Human Algorithm
Gathering data is the easy part. The challenge is connecting the data gathered to strategies for qualitatively changing the experiences being offered. This takes not only looking outward at your customers but also inward at your team.

Chapter 6.0: Holy Persona
In order to animate your understanding of your customers, to give them lives and specific desires, hopes, and dreams, you must craft nuanced, detailed portraits of them. One of the fundamental techniques of HCD is the development of these portraits, referred to as personas. They allow you to take the customer data you have and the observational research you’ve done and create a revelatory story about both the experience you’re offering them now and the new, richer experience you can design. This is where experience architects begin to sketch their building plans and it starts with people first.

Chapter 6.1: Storytelling
A good customer experience ecosystem grabs customers’ attention and then delights them all through their journey with you. It should engage and move them in the same way a good book pulls you into its pages, the way you become the star of a movie, or the way you become the hero in a video game.

Chapter 7.0: Experience Flow
Experience flows typically outline customer steps before, during, and after transactions. At the same time, they also consider scenarios, emotions, and actions. They help businesses optimize current experiences and identify opportunities for designing new and improved ones. An experience flow seamlessly brings together all of the experiences throughout the infinity loop of customer engagement.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from X: The Experience When Business Meets Design by Brian Solis. Copyright © 2015 by Brian Solis. All rights reserved. This book is available at all booksellers.

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