Altimeter analyst and world-renowned thought leader Brian Solis’ new release, What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), develops further the principles of customer-centricity introduced in his 2011 bestseller The End of Business as Usual. I recently hosted a customer centricity-themed executive advisory retreat and chose this book for the guest gift bags; it’s an excellent read. Shifting slightly from Solis’ previous concentration on customer service and the adaptive business model, WTF focuses on the emerging art of experience design – something all executives should learn more about.
In today’s customer journey, what WTF calls the Dynamic Customer Journey, an individual’s “shared” brand experience becomes the influential deal maker or breaker for the prospective next. When connected consumers tweet or blog about brands, their shared sentiments get discovered by prospective consumers searching the social web for insights on products and services. This mutually influential exchange, Solis argues, creates an ongoing “elliptic” cycle, where one consumer’s Ultimate Moment of Truth (UMOT) becomes another’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Any validity remaining in the traditional sales funnel is eradicated. The rapid increase in social, mobile and digital connectivity has made the shared experience the most influential force now affecting buyer behavior. For businesses unwilling to adapt, demise at the hands of Digital Darwinism is a likely result.
But for those courageous and innovative enough to embrace a new, uncharted way of doing business, unprecedented opportunities exist for building meaningful relationships and encouraging advocacy. According to Solis, executives should take heed of mythologist Joseph Campbell’s famed Hero’s Journey, realizing that the consumer, not the brand, must live at the center of every experience. First and foremost, businesses must become empathetic, sophisticated listeners in order to understand the needs and desires of the individual consumer. Armed with these deep insights, and with best-of-breed UX abilities, brands can focus on doing everything in their power to create exceptional personal experiences that will result in positive shared experiences.
I recommend checking out the official WTF Slideshare, which includes infographics, cartoons and stats. It also does a nice job of walking you through the four moments of truth.