AI and the rise of Total Experience

Written by Carrie Majewski, Vice President of Growth Strategy & Advanced Analytics, SQA Group

I’ll never forget in 2020 when the LinkedIn newsfeed changed seemingly overnight with the term the “Great Resignation” dominating the algorithm. Post after post popped up with people announcing their quits; hiring managers raising the flag alerting others that this trend might hit them next; and continual news articles about companies being hit with mass exoduses.

We can attribute many answers to the WHY that fueled the great recalibration, but during that time one central truth started to prevail:

The employee experience could no longer be an afterthought — second, at far too many companies, to the customer experience.

Prior to 2020, the era of customer centricity was at an all-time high. Brands would proudly boast that they were customer-first. Sizeable investments were poured into creating game-changing products, services, and offerings that would WOW customers. Town hall meetings dominated around revenue metrics, Net Promoter Scores, client acquisition costs… the list goes on… sending a signal to employees that the customer was the north star.

But 2020 and the Great Resignation did something to business. With the employees suddenly holding huge power — in terms of if they would stay, or if they would go — the concept of “experience” expanded considerably. Because having a solid approach to customer experience (CX) was no longer enough.


Enter total experience

At the end of 2020, Gartner pushed the envelope forward on the concept of rethinking experience by introducing a new term to the market: “total experience.” Listed among its top 10 strategic technology trend predictions for 2021, Gartner described total experience (TX) as:

“A strategy that connects multi experience with customer, employee and user experience disciplines, Gartner expects organizations that provide a TX to outperform competitors across key satisfaction metrics over the next three years… 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 via capitalizing on new experiential disruptors.”

Suddenly, companies across the globe were thinking “total,” ensuring they were taking steps forward to equally prioritize, shape, and invest in experiences across employees, customers, shareholders, users and so on.

The concept of TX changed business conversation forever. Instead of companies focusing on being superior at just one experience pillar — e.g. customer experience — pressure mounted for them to master all. Because the Future of Work model in which we were all thrust into made one thing super clear…

If even one of your experience pillars was at risk, the whole of your organization was at risk.



3 Ways to jump-start total experience

Though the term TX might still be fairly new, the concept of winning at the experience game dates back almost 30 years ago.

Coined in a 1998 Harvard Business Review article, “Welcome to the Experience Economy,” the “experience economy” described mounting pressure companies faced to differentiate their approach, as “the next competitive battleground lies in staging experiences.”

But in 2024, the fight to win the experience economy has never been greater.

Experience has become disruptive, personalized, and customized. Individuals expect the same level of experience across all brands — from tailored messaging to robust self-service options to AI-powered recommendations. And macro trends continue to support a move to TX, or a fresh, holistic approach to standardizing and holistically thinking about experience.

So how can you jump-start your TX initiatives? Let’s dive into 3 tips to get started:

  • Unlock your why: Just as any initiative needs a north star, total experience needs a compelling reason to get ignited. Consider your organization, team, or department for a moment and reflect on where you think your experience journey might be at risk or falling behind. If you lead a Product team, for example, are you equally prioritizing the experience of your existing users, as well as the desires of future users you need to acquire? If you lead HR/People, have you unintentionally spent more time creating a WOW existing employee experience, but your candidate experience is lagging and precluding you from hiring top talent? Understanding your current state and what is motivating your total experience approach is the first step in building out your strategy.
  • Data as your compass: With your why clear, it’s time to put your data to work and leverage it as a compass as to where you’ve been, where you want to head and how you will ultimately measure TX impact. Instead of worrying too much about the data you have available today, consider answering this question as if you had no barriers: What new KPIs should we stand up and track either org-wide or within our department so that we can gain a more multi-dimensional approach on how our stakeholders feel about the experiences we’re creating? Think of what you want to measure, versus what you feel you can measure. Dream! Challenge yourself to think disruptively. And remember that a shift to TX requires an adjustment in terms of how you think about using data.
  • Technology as the accelerator: As you zero in on your TX WHY and lean on data to set the direction, now comes the exciting part: introduce emerging technologies to accelerate momentum. When you blend together disruptive technologies with human ingenuity, your ability to create memorable, WOW experiences across your stakeholder base soars. One tech accelerator to fast-track? Artificial intelligence. AI can support everything from new-age customer satisfaction scoring methodologies to predictive new feature demands to optimizing day-to-day workflow processes, allowing you to compete in the experience game like never before

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