“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.”

Albert Einstein

A new challenge for brand leaders: reimagine customer experience to answer the needs of a world in which human interaction is increasingly limited and remote; zero-touch is a requirement, and digital engagement is imposing an every growing human experience debt.

Covid-19, coupled with resulting business pressures, has intensified the need for new approaches and the timeframe for delivery.

The unintended consequence of brands requiring increased digital engagement using current tools and methods is an increase in Human Experience Debt that degrades Brand and business competitiveness.

This debt was once partially offset by the availability of employees to address customer needs, fulfilling the experience expectations set by the brand, and then enhanced or reduced as customers encounter the product or service in the market.

Customer Experience = Brand Experience + “Product” Experience + Workforce Experience

Leaders are moving quickly to reduce this debt by elevating the human aspects of digital technologies and AI. In the process, they are reimagining customer experience and increasing the mental, physical, and digital availability of their brands.

Underpinning this effort is an entirely new consumer-to-brand interface based on the fusion of AI, Machine Learning, Cognitive Science, and advanced CGI to create Digital People.

Digital People are autonomous, human-like digital people that enrich the way brands and their workforces create consumer interactions. Digital People reduce costs by automating processes and driving Brand distinctiveness and difference.

The need for brand and CX augmentation is the new battleground where most businesses struggle to compete. But tens of billions of dollars in investments in product, service, and digital transformations are showing little in return.

Amplified by Covid-19, businesses are experiencing:

  • Less transformation, more customer switching: Less than 5% of CX efforts result in the outcomes desired by those embarking on them. In the past year, 49% of customers changed products/companies to escape poor experience, resulting in companies losing more than $62 billion (NewVoiceMedia).
  • “Fail Tax” remains high: 32% of consumers report they will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience. The same figures from Latin America are much higher, at 49%. (PWC, 2018).
  • Brand power is declining rapidly: Less than 50% of consumers able to recall a preferred or favorite brand, placing increased pressure to build brand loyalty through CX. The cost of scaling brands globally is increasing materially as wage, and cultural shifts demand increasing investment in human capital.
  • Increasing Competitiveness: Digital disruptors are attaining materially higher NPS scores through new experiences, unencumbered by legacy systems. Consumers are demanding seamless, omnichannel service experiences that preserve the intimacy and familiarity of human experiences.
  • Resilience tested: From call centers to remote sales and service personnel, traditional approaches to closing the Human Experience debt created by digital channels are seriously tested.
  • The 1:1 promise unanswered: Demand for personalization is extending beyond “know my name” to demonstrating a deeper understanding of the customer context and deeper interaction. Brands have become efficient at transmitting information, but remain highly inefficient at customer interaction. Companies are increasingly looking to AI as not just an accelerant of IQ, but also EQ.

The good news is that companies are becoming aware of this challenge/opportunity. Four out of five companies depend upon the quality of their customer experience (CX) to serve as a primary competitive differentiator. Still, only 12 percent of consumers feel brands have made significant CX improvements in recent years.

The question is whether they will reach into the past, or the future, to address the mounting Human Experience Debt faced by business today.