Intelligent Experiences: Where CX Meets Tech

From the 1970s through the 1990s, customers’ experiences evolved quickly with the introduction of technology like ATMs, CRM systems,touchscreen kiosks, and interactive voice response systems. Companies were the early adopters. They used the then-new tech to operate more efficiently and profitably—mostly by shifting work from a company’s payroll to its customers’ shoulders. The corporate approach to “service” was to take away the personal smiles and let you do more of the work. Self-service was born.

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In the mid-2010s, technology is changing customer experiences again, but on a grander scale and in a much more intelligent way. We don’t have to go to where the tech is to get something done—it simply surrounds us 24×7. For most people, there are only a very few minutes in a day when they are not within arm’s reach of technology that connects them to the world through an invisible network that gives them what we would have called science fiction super powers twenty years ago.

Now, tech-enabled, intelligent experiences can deliver value beyond smiles with service.

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Here’s a retail example. Suppose you’re an RFIDcard- carrying loyal shopper heading into your favorite department store. Once the store senses your presence, the digital signage responds to you with a helpful reminder like “Suzy, your alterations are ready at petites on the second floor”. When you engage with an associate, his tablet “knows” you (with your permission of course) and displays that you’re here to pick up a new black evening dress and that you’re still hunting for a blue scarf to go with another purchase you got a while back. The tablet allows the associate to have the dress and a blue scarf brought to you. All of that with a single touch. What I like about this example is that this imaginary retailer uses technology to serve their customer, not sell to them. While selling is inevitable in retail, creating value for customers should be first and paramount.

To be considered “intelligent”, an experience must be able to:

  • Sense context: Including who is present, the location, the date/time, the customer’s intent, and the situation gathered from a variety of technologies or direct input.
  • Anticipate needs: Knowing sooner what people want yields a better experience at lower cost. Anticipation is “calculated” from personal experience, analysis of previous patterns, and expectations about change.
  • Adapt itself: Based on mid-experience feedback from customers and employees.
  • Respect people: Changing presentation, tone, color, and language to best match each participant’s preferences and sensibilities.
  • Report on itself: So that each subsequent experience improves in quality while requiring less effort and cost.

Intelligent experiences are better experiences. If your brand is a store, bank, airline, hospital, or other service company, you can combine advanced technologies (like connected car, beacons, Wi-Fi, video analytics, eye tracking, big data, and predictive analytics) to deliver experiences that add real value by going beyond the basic attributes of product and service. Using technology to anticipate your customers’ needs creates value for them by letting you serve before you sell. That makes experiences great—and improves the bottom line at the same time.

This article originally appeared in the eBook The 2015 Customer Experience Outlook, a collection of ideas from customer experience authors, designers, and industry leaders. Download your FREE copy today!

The 2015 Customer Experience Outlook

The 2015 Customer Experience Outlook


I’m thrilled to announce the publication of a FREE eBook: The 2015 Customer Experience Outlook.

This eBook is a collection of ideas from customer experience authors, designers, and industry leaders. I contributed an article about Intelligent Experiences: Where CX Meets Tech (page 28).

You’ll also find articles from : B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore, Brandon SchauerDave GrayLisa LindströmJeanne Bliss, Mike Dyer,  Shep Hyken, Erik Roscam Abbing, Dominic Berg, Tennyson PinheiroKerry Bodine, Fred Leichter, and Brian Solis.

Some of the articles offer practical advice, while others are more philosophical in nature. And some will surely challenge your current beliefs about what it means to design and manage the customer experience.

Download your free copy of The 2015 Customer Experience Outlook today!

The 2015 Customer Experience Outlook

The 2015 Customer Experience Outlook

James Patterson\'s New Book Will Self-Destruct in 24 Hours

James Patterson has written lots of books. He’s known for thrilling readers with his engaging style. But he’s never thrilled them like this before. With the launch of Private Vegas, Patterson isn’t just creating a reading experience for consumers, he’s creating real-world, highly engaging experiences for passionate fans. Two in fact.

self-destructing e-book

One lucky (and well-heeled) reader gets a private trip to an undisclosed luxury location and a five-course dinner with Patton. One thousand raving fans will get a special FREE copy of the book, but they must read it in 24 hours, before it self-destructs.

For readers who like the thriller genre, this is thrilling.

Creating experiences for people can make any service, any product, or any event richer, better, and more profitable. Let’s unpack Patterson’s promotion scheme so that you can see how to apply these principles to your own customer experience (#CX) projects.

Richer means more engaging, more details, more memorable, more senses, and more money. Think about it. Without even reading the book, friends and family will hear about the book through their friend’s or family member’s experience. They’ll become participants themselves! How can you enlist your customers’ and employees’ friends and family to become more involved and have more fun in the experiences your company offers?

Better means more enjoyable, more exciting, more vivid, more fulfilling, and deeper. These experiences take reading beyond sitting and turning pages (or swiping screens) by adding a new level of emotional intensity which ultimately makes the experience easier to notice, remember, and share. How can you design experiences at your organization to be better without breaking the bank?

More Profitable means you get to keep more money at the end of the day. It doesn’t mean you get to spend less or work less. Often, you have to work harder behind the scenes to make experiences fun (which makes them spread which makes you money). Patterson’s publisher was bold. They must have introduced a new software platform, public relations program, fan community, and administrative support to make this work. It’s a higher-risk undertaking that changes the rules of the publishing game (making it more like Hollywood film distribution). What can you add to your company’s experiences on the front end so that more people will learn about them, want them, have them, pay for them, and share them?

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Think about it. The story about the ‘self-destrucing book’ experience will precede and overshadow the storyline of the book. Conventional wisdom says “Don’t steal your own thunder”, but social media strategies tell us that the number of viewers and participants in brand stories is what really moves the financial success needle.

James Patterson is a top-selling author. Seems to me he’s also a top notch experience designer because he knows that…

Good experience is good business.

Thanks to Jeff Beer for introducing this story.

VoC Programs to Improve Customer Experience

A voice of the customer(VoC) program can be an integral part of delivering great customer experiences as long as the focus remains on understanding what to improve and

Voice of the customer programs are helpful in tracking customer complaints, choices and generally negative impressions. This is useful information if you know what to do with it. Monitoring customers and anticipating their intent is important but doing something with the information–quickly– will create more value for customers and shareholders than just focusing on getting the data.

The best VOC programs report human emotional responses as well as activities that can be counted. There is new observational technology such as video capture, motion sensing, text analytics and eye tracking that help uncover patterns in big data. Businesses that approach big data in this way are able to improve service and lower cost at the same time.

Improving the customer experience using data derived from a VoC program assists with continually tweaking the details that go into delivering the experience. It is possible to get a clearer picture of who your customers are and even a glimpse into desires that are going unmet in the market today. Being able to anticipate needs provides an edge in a competitive market.

There are other ways to gather data and insight into the customer experience, mystery shopping and journey mapping to name two. Regardless of how you collect the information, the important take away is to use the information in a holistic way integrated into experience design, service design and business design.

Ethan Allen Launches New Store Concept

In response to changing consumer trends, Ethan Allen is launching a new retail store concept with new in-store technology designed to enhance the customer experience.

Ethan Allen

Ethan Allen website

The new retail design comes with the launch of 600 new product designs reflecting the more casual lifestyle of their customers today and a new content rich website. Integration of technology within the store will include touchscreen kiosks in the Design Centers and each designer will have a tablet. Designers will use tablets to access products not displayed in store, create customized products and place orders for customers.

Use technology to offer a seamless customer experience across channels.

Omnichannel strategies are at the forefront of retail industry challenges. Ethan Allen will continue using the My Project App to bridge the gap from online to brick and mortar. The My Project App allows customers to interface with designers from their home and when customers are in the store, designers can work with their projects that started online from home. Apps like this provide real value for customers.

Responding to changes in customer preferences is necessary. By implementing an Innovation Lab retailers can continually experiment with ideas to not only keep pace with changes but also to be a forerunner in the industry. Read more about a Store of the Future initiative.