Customer experience is a funny thing. Organizations can dream up any number of amazing, captivating, creative and “delightful” moments in time. We can map and track how these moments are delivered through an increasingly expansive network of digital and traditional engagement channels. We can orchestrate how a series of moments can string together into robust journeys across which our customers can turn and weave at their own speed. We can dream and do a LOT of things. We just can’t “control” or “manage” a customer’s experience.

Try as we may—and we have all tried REALLY hard—no single person or function can OWN the customer experience. That title is held by each individual customer that chooses to engage. What exceptional CX-driven organizations have come to understand is that the devil is in the details of how we dream and how we deliver those experiences. And those details…those moments…need to be rethought and rearchitected from the ground up for a new type of recipient.

This is why I found recent conversations with Avaya about this idea of “Experience Thinking” and the subsequent action (and new ecosystem) of “Experience Building” to be so fascinating. Here are a couple takeaways:

New economies have bred new customers… they all demand new thinking.
Everyone is now a resident of the digital universe. There are nuanced differences in expectation of the digital native or the digital late bloomer. But everyone expects a healthy dose of value in each engagement. Each individual interacting has assigned their own value and their own personal use cases for each of the channels they choose to utilize — bots for self-service, voice powered search for knowledge on the go, click to talk to get to a real person to get to the real answers, social to get advice — and are no longer waiting for the brands they do business with meet them where they already are.

Avaya calls these the “Everything Customer”: the customers that rely on mobile apps, subscription services and demand ready, immediate answers and access to value. To serve this customer Avaya stresses that organizational response needs to be far more encompassing than simple channel or even locational transformation. They couldn’t be more spot on.

Serving this new Everything Customer demands thinking that is agile and flexible, not held within the linear construct of operational norms or held back by technological barriers. It is about providing as much self-service information as providing on-demand experts and expertise. It fundamentally asks organizations to rearchitect strategy and process around the Everything Customer BEFORE rearchitecting technology, data or channels.

Everything Customers will expect to work with Everything Employees. Experience—and the expectation of fully connected, self-service, smart and personalized experience—is not limited to customers. Just as digital transformation heightened expectations of the Everything Customer, their corporate peer group, the Everything Employee, similarly expects mobile, digital, cloud and self-service, smart systems that help them reach THEIR goals and experiences. Technology is no longer just present as part of their jobs…technology is there to help individuals and teams be more successful in their jobs, regardless of where they choose to sit while doing their job. The expectation is that tools, especially AI-empowered smart tools, will be ubiquitous and available to serve the needs of any employee.

This is why data from Avaya indicating that 32% of organizations report that employees are struggling to adapt is all the more troubling. It seems that businesses, despite their best intentions, continue to deliver tools that don’t actually satisfy, connect with or event assist this new modern Everything (everywhere) Employee.

Hybrid work, the future of work, the mundane reality of going to work…whatever and wherever any of it may be…is meaningless if the tools being provided can’t (or won’t) be used. The “Great Resignation” is real, and it will have a massive impact on an organization’s ability to deliver and capitalize on customer experiences. There is, however, hope…if we can apply Experience Thinking and then get busy building the “Now-Generation”.

The time to build is now.
CX and EX both demand next generation experiences. One problem: Next generation is right now. To deliver exceptional experiences, employees must have the tools and the operational bandwidth to build new experiences. To scale the delivery of these new experiences, teams must be empowered by tools built for the speed of the cloud and the intelligence of AI. Take, as an example, the case of DHL Supply Chain, the world’s leading contract logistics provider.

Based in Singapore, DHL Supply Chain needed to accelerate business expansion projects to meet the increased demand while meeting customer’s increased demands for service and support. This would not just be an issue of rolling out more call center agents or deploying new tools, DHL Supply Chain needed to rethink how to retool and reimagine the experience of DHL Contact Center Services to address everything from retention to the tools to remain best-in-class in the industry.

They needed to innovate experiences to power rapid regional expansion, scaling contact center offerings to Japan, Korea, Australia and beyond. To ensure that CX and EX could scale simultaneously, DHL Supply Chain turned to cloud and service, more specifically tools like Avaya OneCloud to ensure that every agent could deliver service while every customer’s experience counted. As a result, scale, expansion and delivery of exceptional experiences could happen in a timeline both customers AND employees could appreciate…with a bottom line benefit to the business that DHL will appreciate.

Rethinking isn’t an isolated exercise.
In fact, to accomplish transformation quickly and successfully, it takes a village, which is exactly why Avaya has leaned so heavily into their recently announced “Experience Builders” program. This week at their annual conference, ENGAGE 2021, Avaya Experience Buildersä took center stage showcasing the expansive partnership ecosystem aligning services, products and expertise to form a massive Experience village. Experience Builders does not just bring Avaya and its partners and integrators together—and if we are being honest here, that is already something that a staggering number of technology providers do and label it a community. Avaya takes the ecosystem father to include technology developers, customers and citizen developers to create a global network designed to build better experiences for employees and customers. It is not just about building moments or even channels, but potentially building new technologies, integrations and processes to actually transform and deliver experiences.

What I find most intriguing about this ecosystem is that customers, from a customer’s development team to business leaders are as much a part of this process of co-innovation and collaboration as are developers at Avaya and all of their network of partners. This means that real problems can be tossed into the community and everything from small tweaks to big transformational shifts can be iterated and delivered to solve known and unknown challenges faced by (or because of) the Everything Customer and the Everything Employee.

Introduced in October at the Gitex global gathering of enterprise and government technology, the Experience Builders ecosystem has grown to include over 150,000 developers, 100,000 customers and, as Avaya CMO Simon Harrison points out, a network of tens of thousands of global partners all focused on making “Experience as a Service” a reality. This is about bringing the talent, the skills and the problem solving into one space so that experience has an innovation framework that can stand the test of time and scale.

“Experience Builders around the world can compose and wrap solutions around their own customers, tailored for every use case and every user,” Harrison noted prior to ENGAGE 2021. “The ambition here is to empower every citizen developer to build experiences. Every day Avaya Experience Builders are delivering, creating stronger brands, changing entire industries, and in many cases improving lives.”

Yes, we need to rethink. But we need to think and build with purpose.
We need to think and build differently because our customers and our employees expect it. If we fail to heed this call, both will walk with their wallets and their talents. The days of technology transformation for transformation’s sake has officially come to an end with both customers and employees clearly indicating that they don’t plan to wait around for usable tools or experiences. Left ignored, customer experience will stop being a profitable differentiator, instead being a reason for defection and resignation. Next is now…and the future is limitless.

P.S: Encourage you to check out Avaya’s thoughts on the shifts towards effortless experiences and the introduction of their Experience Builders ecosystem. It’s a good read.