Experience Innovation: Building a Consumer-Centric Ecosystem
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Experience Innovation: Building a Consumer-Centric Ecosystem

April 28, 2021

It takes a lot of thought and effort to understand what your consumers want from you, and to build a consumer-centric ecosystem from the ground up — but it’s worth the effort. Here's how to get started.

More and more, consumers experience brands through moments that are both in-person and digital. Fair or not, this diversity means that a person’s initial experience with a brand sets a baseline that dramatically influences the quality they anticipate at other touchpoints. A fantastic in-store experience will lead to the expectation of an online experience that’s equivalently fantastic. 

This is why consistency across touchpoints matters so much. While it’s always a worthwhile endeavor to design a memorable experience for your customers, you run the risk of falling into a trap — of making other aspects of your brand experience look bad by comparison. The way around this? Use experience innovation to intentionally design and implement an entire customer-centric ecosystem, with digital as the glue.  

It’s Time to Organize Around Your Customer

Organizing a business around channels is the old way of doing things — organizing around your customers is the way forward. Instead of in-store, eCommerce, in-app, think: inspiration, membership, support, etc. By focusing on customer needs, you can bridge the gaps that exist between channels, turning disparate areas of the business into a holistic ecosystem — one with the potential to dramatically increase customer lifetime value. 

And by using digital as the connective tissue that brings these pieces together, brands can make sure each consumer touchpoint is optimized to:  

  • Help consumers along their personal journey with as little friction as possible.
  • Learn more about consumers’ needs and desires.
  • Maintain and increase consumer engagement. 
  • Increase active consumers. 

Let’s take a look at the hypothetical example of a media and entertainment company. This organization uses its steaming platform to increase awareness of its various properties. The company drives some revenue through subscription fees associated with this platform, but the bulk of its business comes from its retail presence. However, the true value of the streaming platform comes from the data it provides — about which content is most popular, which is waning, etc. The company uses this data to inform decisions about its merchandising and retail experience to give customers what they really want. And of course, the data collection goes both ways — sales data can help inform content decisions for the streaming platform. It’s a virtuous cycle. 

How to Get Started: Understanding

One approach for creating your own virtuous cycle is to prioritize insights and customer journey mapping to understand:

  • How do consumers experience your brand today? 
  • What are the on-ramps and off-ramps? Unrecognized off-ramps are a source of lapsed consumers. How do you identify them and turn them into reactivation opportunities? 
  • What feedback loops exist within your customer experience? Are you picking up the feedback and implementing it?
  • How are the parts of the experience working together or not working together? Where does friction exist today, and how can you minimize it?

What’s Next: Design

Once you have a deep understanding of your current CX, it’s time to design a true ecosystem — one made to put the consumer at the center of everything. A great way to begin this process is through a strategic, three-day design sprint involving cross-functional leaders and stakeholders. Here’s a what a potential schedule might look like:

  • Day 1: Define and prioritize visions for what your brand can be to deliver on customer insights and needs.
  • Day 2: With a clear definition of what your brand can be, detail how it can deliver through new, connected experiences.
  • Day 3: Build an ambitious North Star vision as a team, with clear, incremental steps for how you can get there.

Most organizations have very product-centric ecosystems (if they have an ecosystem at all). It takes a lot of thought and effort to understand what your consumers want from you, and to build a consumer-centric ecosystem from the ground up. However, it’s worth the effort — and we can help. Get in touch to start a conversation about what your future-state brand ecosystem could look like.

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