User experience beyond marketing initiative

Author: Brice Le Blévennec

By Bertrand Duperrin, digital transformation practice leader.

An interesting article was recently published on the Harvard Business Review website, explaining how marketing was lying six feet under, killed by client loyalty. It is true that no marketing could ever do anything against a loyal, faithful, engaged client. But this is a reductive vision: as Manuel Diaz demonstrated, loyalty is nothing but the result of a successful user experience. We should then say: user experience killed marketing.

Of course, one may not agree with this. Among other things, as some have pointed out before, user experience is a part of marketing; it is one of its components. But what businesses that actually switched to the experience economy have proven is precisely this: their guidelines now involve experience as a strategy, not only as a tactic. Experience goes way beyond marketing and comes before marketing in communication plans.


Practically speaking, businesses go through several steps on their path towards digital business models relying on experience

– Considering experience as something that comes over pre-existing material, dissociated from it. It’s the first step. We have to deal with what already exists and was not conceived nor thought out in terms of experience. So we start from what we already have and coat it all in with communication devices and customer relationship management. We are clearly dealing with a marketing tactic here.

– Improving what already exists. Improvement of products and services that begin to include the experience aspect, based on first experience feedback. There’s not much wiggle room but the product becomes “self-carrying” in terms of experience.

– Conceiving new products and services. Businesses are then able to conceive new things that integrate experience from the moment they are conceived. The experience is considered through the whole life cycle of the product: marketing, sales, buying process, user experience, connected services, customer support. With such a process, people from Marketing, Product Management, Customer Support and R&D, at least, need to be around the table.

The ultimate step would be a company thinking “experience by design”, a company that uses experience, not as a preoccupation, but as a way of working, as a way of conceiving and delivering all of its activities. Experience reaches both business and organisation models. Why?

First, because successful experiences have a double financial impact. They improve margins as they decorrelate perceived value from cost prices. They are also factors of “repeat business” (client loyalty) that alleviate the marketing efforts: working on existing clients is so much cheaper than conquering new ones (or worse: reconquering unfaithful clients).

Secondly, because experience has a clear organisational impact. There is no user experience without employee experience. No employee can think, deliver, transmit an experience she/he isn’t living, has not been exposed at work by her/his corporation, manager, colleagues. Which brings us back to similar and more renowned management and marketing methods like reciprocity deals: if you look after your employees, they’ll look after your customers. For such a system to work, you need managerial and cultural referents, you need coherence between organisational models and processes. You can add the HR crowd around the table at this point.

In short, in terms of experience, dissonance between front and back office on the human, organisational and technological levels only gives rise to deception and dysfunctions.

This is felt through the methods that are set up in this kind of project. With every progress made by a given corporation, it climbs a rung on the ladder of experience maturity. This gives way to new ambitions that are proven (by impact studies) to gradually mobilise more and more skills (client- then employee-oriented) at a higher and higher level and have an important impact on the organisation’s structure. This whole apparatus allows the management of a corporation’s experience strategy through time, from marketing tactics to corporation strategy, acting first on its marketing then on its transformation.

Practice shows that experience really is a marketing tactic destined to become an organisation model. It also shows, device and methodology wise, that marketing and transformation aspects need to be handled step by step, in due time.

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About the author

Bertrand Duperrin joined Emakina, as digital transformation practice leader. He was named ‘One of the 100 who matter’ in the French digital industry, by ‘01 business & Technology’ magazine. He shared his insights as a speaker at several international industry events and he is a member of the AIIM expert bloggers community. At Emakina, Bertrand focuses on business transformation, customer and employee perspective alignment, defining clients’ transformation foundations and roadmap and technology enablement.


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