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PHOTO: Greg Rakozy

As technologies develop and change, so too does the vocabulary describing them. Analyst firms, such as Gartner, have played a big part in changing the way we discuss these technologies, the best example being the way enterprise content management became content services. The discussion of semantics can be hard at times to follow. ECM and content services, while related, are not the same. Such is the case with a term Gartner introduced last year called multiexperience.

Multiexperience Becomes Total Experience

Multiexperience, as explained early last year by Cigniti, is using various modalities, digital touchpoints, apps and devices together to design and develop a seamless experience for customers. The idea is to interact with the customers at as many touch points as possible to offer a consistent customer experience across the web, mobile, app, and other modalities. Citing Gartner, the company predicted that by 2023, more than 25% of the mobile apps, progressive web apps and conversational apps at large enterprises will be built and/or run through a multiexperience development platform.

That was last year. Now with 12 months of pandemic and remote working experience under our collective belts, mutliexperience has evolved. We are now in the world of total experience (TX). Total experience is a strategy that connects multiexperience with customer, employee and user experience disciplines, as Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner, explained at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Americas.

He said Gartner expects organizations that provide a TX to outperform competitors across key satisfaction metrics over the next three years. He added that organizations need a TX strategy as interactions become more mobile, virtual and distributed.

TX strives to improve the experiences of multiple constituents to achieve a transformed business outcome. These intersected experiences are key moments for businesses recovering from the pandemic that are looking to achieve differentiation, according to Gartner.

Related Article: The Intersection of Employee Experience and Customer Experience

Total Experience as Driver of Post-COVID Success

Zain Jaffer is the CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Zain Ventures, which invests in companies based on observed trends in the consumer-facing marketplace. He agrees that total experience is a crucial determining factor of an organization’s post-COVID success. "There’s more than enough talk in consumer-facing industries regarding the importance of customer experience. Rightfully so — no customers, no business,” he said. “But that is not all there is to it, especially in the age of COVID-19. Total experience, referred to as TX, is an important metric that takes into consideration the experience of an organizations employees and users, in addition to their clients.”

He explained that TX became a tech buzzword almost overnight when the pandemic turned nearly every sector upside down. The talent in the workplace was completely rearranged, while the talent pool grew quickly and prominent companies that were still above water had the opportunity to continue building their teams. It also became the reputation of the enterprise, a crucial differentiator between the companies that won top talent and maintained user affinity and those that missed the mark. Not coincidentally, the strongly reputable companies that excel at TX are also the companies that are able to provide a strong customer experience.

“In this market moment, I think Gartner hit the nail on the head when they pointed toward the trend of investing in TX,” he added. He suggested two ways to address TX.

1. Branding Through Employee Experience

A March poll by Morning Consult showed that early in the pandemic, 90% of consumers cared deeply about how corporations were treating their employees, with 67% of respondents naming it "very important." Demonstrating a strong corporate culture and an employee-first attitude has become a way to improve both internal and external operations.

Corporations that were able to demonstrate a commitment to their team, engaging in relevant pandemic-era initiatives and proving a human interest that extends through tough times, were overwhelmingly reward by consumers. The employees of those companies have higher job satisfaction, which leads to more productivity — a textbook win-win.

2. Breaking Down Walls

Part of providing an integrated total experience is breaking down departmental silos. Merging front and back offices and leveraging technology to make sure all team members feel aware of and engaged in the larger team project, creates a unified experience that engages high-level customers. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a force that has pulled back the curtain.

“Teams that work like a well-oiled machine, with robust, involved, and integrated team processes, will see higher affinity and satisfaction from customers, users, and employees alike. The best way for a business owner to get their team to this level is to make meaningful investments in integrated smart technology and software tools to enable cross-disciplinary engagement,” Zaffer added.

User and Employee Experience Together

It is important to remember that total experience is not customer experience. While the terms have been used interchangeably, the concepts are slightly different. Total experience has an overall goal of improving customer experience, and with it, the business as a whole, said Nathan Murphy, co-founder of Singapore-based QuizBreaker

It refers more to how different aspects of user and employee experience affect how those customers interact with your company, as well as the impression it leaves in those customers' minds. Focusing on and prioritizing total experience will help you to ask questions about how your user experience is affecting how customers view your brand, he said.

It also will give you a reason to see how employees can be more stimulated and engaged at work. After all, the happier and more empowered your employees are, the better experience they will give to customers.

“Total experience can certainly be a tricky concept to grasp, but the overall goal is simple and straightforward: it's meant to improve customer satisfaction and give them a better experience with your brand that leads to a long-term relationship that benefits both parties,” he said. To improve this experience for the customer, total experience looks at your company to see what individual changes can be made, he added.

While the importance of customer experience is lost on no one in business today, many companies are relying on antiquated strategies to manage the customer lifecycle, said Anand Tharanathan, chief product officer of Indianapolis-based MetaCX.

The goal of companies should be to create a total experience, a connected customer experience from the very first interaction with a prospect all the way through renewal. Accidents often happen at the intersections — in the handoffs from sales to onboarding teams and from onboarding teams to customer success.

"Creating a total experience means establishing trust and open communication throughout the entire customer lifecycle, staying on message through every channel and touchpoint, and never losing sight of the customer’s goals and objectives. It means creating a tight linkage between the value you promise in the sales cycle, the value achieved through implementation and usage, and the value you can prove at renewal time,” said Tharanathan.