You’ve probably heard the term total experience crop up recently. It’s been discussed on social media, thousands of blog articles, and it’s shaping up to be the buzzword of 2021. But what actually is total experience?
What is Total Experience?
To understand total experience, we need to go back to 2018.
Three years ago, we witnessed the rise of multiexperience. This was a paradigm shift where customers expected to be able to engage with a brand through whatever channels they chose. As an example, a customer goes to the store to buy something, but the item isn’t in stock. The attending cashier places the order for them, and the customer will get a text message and email alert when it’s time to pick up their product.
Multiexperience can also include bits of automated technology. A customer would like to know more about your B2B offering, but doesn’t have the time or desire to get on the phone with one of your sales representatives. When the customer first gets to your website, a chatbot pops up, asking them to give some details about their inquiry. The chatbot can then suggest blog articles, case studies, and other resources to move the customer along in their journey, or start a live chat.
Multiexperience was king, until the COVID19 pandemic hit.
Pre-pandemic, customers were rewarding forward-thinking, omnichannel businesses with their dollars. Post-pandemic, customers expect a flawless omnichannel experience. Multiexperience transformed into Total Experience.
Total experience is achieved when all parts of your business, from sales and marketing to customer support and beyond, work together to deliver a uniform experience. To implement total experience is to treat all points of interaction that any human has with your company as a unified whole.
To put it in more concrete terms:
Total Experience refers to a unification of UX Design, marketing content and strategy, and customer and employee experience in order to provide a seamless, unified experience of engagement with your brand.source
Total experience is also about getting rid of business silos, or the idea that every business unit is its own self-contained unit. As Brian Burke, Vice President of Research at Gartner and one of the first proponents of total experience says:
The challenge is that in most organizations, those different disciplines are siloed. So what we’re saying is that if you can bring together customer experience, employee experience, multi experience, and user experience, the common notarial effect … as a combination of strategies is harder to replicate than in a single strategy...That’s where you’ll gain the competitive advantage that will be realized through those experience metrics.source
What does total experience look like?
Think of Patagonia. Not the South American region, but the California-based retailer. Since the 1970’s, they’ve provided high-quality outdoor clothing to millions of customers across the globe. They’ve also committed themselves to preserving the world’s natural resources and have taken an active role in the fight against climate change. Their employees don’t just work for a clothing company, they are climate warriors. Customers aren’t just customers, they are the stewards of nature. Patagonia’s online presence, content, and in-store aesthetic feeds into this ideal.
Focusing on total experience has helped Patagonia solidify its consumer base, and thus its position in the retail industry.
Luckily, you don’t need to be Patagonia to do total experience.
Here’s a hypothetical total experience scenario:
A customer can place an order for a product either through the company website or a physical location. They then start receiving automated updates through a variety of channels -- Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Email, SMS -- detailing the status of their order. In these messages, a blog article or case study is attached which will help the customer engage with their purchase. After the product is received, the customer is told they can go on live chat with a product expert just to make sure everything’s all right.
Total experience is hard, but not impossible. It’s a tricky concept, but the goal is simple: deliver jaw-dropping customer experience through every interaction with your brand. Ultimately, you want to develop a relationship with your customers that goes beyond a transaction, like the way Patagonia created an army against climate change.
What steps will you take to bring about total experience in your company?