Why building a more resilient total experience is key to future business success


Simon Cox, Chief Transformation Officer, ServiceNow

In today’s world, experience is an essential ingredient throughout the lifetime of every customer and employee journey. It’s what turns one-off customers into loyal brand followers — and workers into dedicated employees. 

Far from standalone entities, these two aspects of experience interrelate significantly, too. A dissatisfied workforce is unlikely to delight customers, while working in a position that continually disappoints customers is likely to lead to a lack of drive among employees — which can contribute significantly to churn. It’s this close relationship between customer and employee that has led to the development of what we call ‘total experience’: a strategy that fosters superior shared experiences by interlinking employee and customer experience. 

Total experience put to the test

The problem is, the period of macro uncertainty we’ve experienced in recent years has really put that experience under pressure, with businesses at times unable to deliver what customers and employees expect. You might call this an ‘unresilient experience’. 

The problem is, times of hardship are when people rely on experience most. A quote from our Chairman and CEO, Bill McDermott, sums it up perfectly: “Trust is earned in drops and lost in buckets.” The positive impact of resolving an incident is considerable, but the negative impact of failure is often far more significant. If you’re not resilient in these scenarios then you run the risk of losing customers, slowing growth, and potentially losing employees down the line.  

When costs are rising, products are in short supply, or getting work done is becoming harder, it’s how businesses deal with customers and employees that will really make the difference. That’s where we are now: this ‘experience conundrum’ during the pandemic and the years that have followed has led many businesses to reconsider how they approach risk and start to build up more resilience. The question for many businesses, therefore, is: how do we go about making those experiences better and more resilient?

What to do — and what not to do

Let’s be clear: resilience doesn’t mean making your business immune to something happening. It means you have the flexibility to adapt and come out the other side. It can help to think of resilience as something that rests on three pillars:

  • Acceptance: the ability to attune to the reality of what’s happening
  • Purpose: The ability to maintain a clear sense of what your business is, what it does, and who it serves
  • Flexibility: The ability of your business to bend and stretch resources to meet a challenge — as opposed to breaking down

Businesses today should be looking to build up those pillars, systems, and processes. The end result should be a ‘total experience’ that is more resilient and more able to meet the needs of customers and employees in both good times and bad. There are two key missteps to avoid along the way, however.

The first is isolation. Businesses naturally fall into different departments, and every department will have its own set of risks to respond to, but these can’t be dealt with individually. No department is an island, and moving forward in isolation creates the likelihood that a solution won’t work properly or isn’t comprehensive enough to fix the overall problem the business is facing. The result can be failure to help employees and customers as intended or, worse still, generate even more friction in those experiences.

The second risk is well-intentioned but potentially just as harmful. Businesses need to be cautious not to over-prepare for risks and either waste resources on very remote eventualities or spend so much time on building resilience that they no longer have time to innovate — a significant risk factor of its own.

For businesses looking to avoid those stumbling blocks, secure resilience, and maintain experience, it helps to get back to those three pillars of resilience mentioned above: how can we increase awareness, build in flexibility, and maintain purpose in uncertain times?

Clarity is key

It’s worth noting at this point that, when it comes to risk and resilience, you can’t boil the entire ocean at once. To mitigate risk effectively, you need to identify those areas which are most important at any given time and focus on those. 

To decide which areas are most important, you need to be able to see the entire picture, however — and that’s where visibility becomes important. Better visibility also enables you to address those problems more efficiently, so you don’t overspend your resources trying to fix everything; fix half of a problem and leave the rest to fester; or lose sight of your greater goals because of one single problem standing in the way. 

This is where using people and technology can start to work together effectively. Technology can connect, build bridges, expand visibility, and unlock insights in a way that people can’t alone. But equally, by using technology, people are freed from other onerous tasks that eat up their productive hours. That enables them to create a real human touch that really turbocharges employee and customer experience. It’s a case of each helping the other to create an experience which is tech-driven, but still human-led.

Achieving a truly resilient total experience

It’s important to stress again: there’s no such thing as being ‘perfectly’ resilient. You’re not completely impervious to things going wrong, but you have the capability to act when they inevitably do.  

With the right level of visibility, businesses can build up a more mature attitude towards risk and ultimately ensure that this happens as a little as possible — helping you save up the ‘drops’ of trust you need between you, your customers, and employees. What’s more, you’ll have further resources at your disposal to spend on the value-add actions which really make an impact on experience. 

The result is an experience which is more resilient, but also more total — improving the lives of both employees and customers not only when something goes wrong, but the vast majority of the time — because ultimately, successful organisations will be the ones that can roll with the punches but, at the same time, continue to drive value in every experience.

Recommended for you

Read article - A control-tower for success
A control-tower for success

How UK&I businesses can adopt a control-tower model for long-term success

Read article - 5 ways to better nurture talent in your organisation
5 ways to better nurture talent in your organisation

Top tips and considerations for business leaders looking nurture talent effectively.

Read article - ESG is getting lost in translation
ESG is getting lost in translation

We can’t let the term itself hide what is actually imperative for your business, ESG requires action now.

Read article - The simpler route to digital transformation
The simpler route to digital transformation

How can business leaders empower their workforce to take change into their own hands with low-code technology?

Loading spinner