"You've got to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology — not the other way around." Steve Jobs
The workplace is changing and with this change comes opportunity for those who can adapt. Even before Covid 19, we knew that traditional ways of working were being replaced with new, digitally powered collaborations and it is now increasingly obvious that those who embrace and leverage the technology that digitalisation brings will gain significant advantage over their competitors. Not just in how they provide goods or services to consumers but how they engage with them in the first place. However, to learn from Steve Jobs, the technological innovation should be in response to a customer experience need and CX experts agree that understanding your customer inside out will be the tricky but crucial focus for post-pandemic marketing.
A Focus on Objective
We call this "mapping" the brief, a skill expert Ian Golding focuses on in his book “Customer What?” whilst quoting the wonderfully eccentric Terry Pratchett as insightful link to the "art of mapping a CX strategy: "Map-making had never been a precise art on the Discworld. People tended to start off with good intentions and then get so carried away with the spouting whales, monsters, waves and other tiddly bits of cartographic furniture that they often forgot to put the boring mountains and rivers in at all."
The same cartographic analogy can be used for many a brand engagement design but not so for a well-designed Customer Experience center (CEC), whether physical or digital. A CEC comes with its own boundaries; its rivers and mountains, with limited time for whales and monsters. The focused permanency of a CX center has exactly that effect on its ideation; the space is focused and lean, targeting audiences with a clean clear map of the brand narrative.
Defines Sales Conversations
The success of a self-contained CX strategy that delivers on clear messaging is growing in demand as sales conversations with customers are becoming more dynamic and demanding than ever and a meaningful dialogue requires a more complex set of stimuli. Yes, an inspiring environment is important and often the first step for a brand when mapping out their CX center ‘wants,’ however in practice, we find it is key permanent stimulus touchpoints that trigger dialogue that ends up in sales.
Which brings us to the nub of why CX Centres are becoming increasing popular; sustainable sales. A means by which a brand product can be repeatedly demonstrated in its finest light to a consumer through digital content and stimulus. A sustainable, re-usable, re-definable heart of a brand that we have seen used to tangible success in many forms of CEC, whether they are a physical, hybrid or digital Innovation Suites, Technology Centres, Executive Briefing Centres, Training Centres, CX Hubs or Showrooms. Whatever the name, the guiding principles are the same.
Expands Brand Identity
Working in CEC’s for some years now, we find one question often arises from clients; I can see the value but how do I get buy-in to create one? We find the heart concept of a CEC is important here. Embodying the brand, the CEC is more than just a showcase for products and services. It becomes a place to explain, explore and expand your brand with your clients, potential clients and influencers. Our clients Playtech and Kantar who we have created physical and digital CEC’s for, understand that a powerful way to engage prospects - especially decisionmakers - is to provide them with a visually impressive, immersive demonstration. Demonstrations are built on structural creative tech and require careful planning, investment and beta-testing, hard to replicate in a short-term environment but a fundamental focus in a CEC. Nothing beats first-hand experience and if the environment is physically and digitally narrative-led, all the focus is on ‘wowing’ customers with the brand’s current and future offerings.
These operational hubs also provide valued insight into manufacturing, design, product or service capabilities, where customers see the value of working with a particular organisation, familiarize themselves with their process and discuss tailored solutions. Customer Experience Centres also provide an excellent forum for customers to build personal connections with specialists and provide organisations with the unique opportunity to personalize service and immediately respond to wants and needs. This can be reversed internally with the CEC used as centre as a training hub for employees and an educational opportunity for potential investors. - showcasing how generating real ROI can generate real buy-in.
Allows Hybrid Collaboration
As with all things brand experience at the moment, the role of the Customer Experience Centre is evolving from a tool for pure demonstration (a one-way communication) to a new focus on collaboration (a dynamic contribution). As part of this shift, many global enterprises are exploring next-generation hybrid CECs for 2021 as the new models for customer engagement, whether physical or digital. As a truly collaborative experience that involves all stakeholders in every stage of contribution, review and presentation, a successful CEC now takes clients on a journey to experience the enterprise's values, people and partnership, and leaves prospects excited and ready to engage.