Total experience in the age of uncertainty

ARTICLE | April 28, 2023

Total experience in the age of uncertainty

Why total experience strategy matters during turbulent times

By Simon Cox, Chief Transformation Officer, ServiceNow 

Ten years ago, if I received a call from my bank, I never answered it. The caller was going to sell me something. Now, when my bank calls, I pick up the phone immediately. What changed?

The answer is simple: total experience (TX). Over the past decade, the financial services industry has transformed how it interacts with its customers—so much so that we no longer try to avoid any contact with banks. Instead, we make sure to answer the phone when they call, as we know they are trying to support us and protect our money. It’s a profound illustration of the power of experience.


How AI is improving customer experience

As  turbulence in the global economy increases, and as organizations make the shift to digital-first products and services, total experience has become paramount to success. In periods of uncertainty, customers, employees, and shareholders alike expect consistent, confidence-building interactions with businesses.

Typically, business leaders think of experience in terms of two components: customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX). But executives are beginning to realize that experience doesn’t have to be binary. In fact, it shouldn’t be. The same principles that help organizations create better CX also help build superior EX. By combining the two—linking them with strategies, technologies, and processes—organizations can more efficiently maximize their gains for both. Welcome to the era of total experience (TX).

Currently, businesses have big dreams but limited budgets. In the face of a global economic downturn, executives must decide how to accelerate digital transformation, attract and retain talent, and earn customers’ loyalty without the same resources they had a few years ago.

Many are now approaching digitization incrementally rather than via expensive multiyear programs. All too often, that gives rise to a false choice: improve EX by investing in excellent onboarding experiences and training and upskilling opportunities, or improve CX by creating better ways for customers to interact with the brand. But experience shouldn’t be a zero-sum game. It’s something people feel, and this applies to both customers and employees.

Rather than tweaking individual processes in isolation, organizations should take a TX approach, using technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), process mining, and machine learning (ML) to create better experiences for customers and employees alike. For example, rather than digitizing an antiquated employee help desk and updating an old customer support platform, a business could build an entirely new, AI-supported portal that is connected across the enterprise and available to the customer. Everyone benefits.


When Gartner coined “total experience,” the term encompassed employee and customer experience. But we could also add partner and regulatory experience to the definition. It’s important to ensure that every experience is compliant, auditable, and safe.

Regulated industries are regulated for a reason: There’s a risk of harm if products and services aren’t delivered in a certain way. When a bank faces a challenge that interrupts service, it requires a lot of work to restore service to customers, make sure the event doesn’t happen again, and then close the loop from a compliance standpoint.

Businesses can connect each experience to improve them across the board—for example, creating a workflow that enables teams to simultaneously address an outage, communicate with customers, and generate compliance reporting.

By streamlining oversight and governance, organizations can focus on growth.

Understandably, a lot of executives aren’t quite sure how to lay the groundwork for TX. There are two things to keep in mind when getting started.

First, look at other companies that have done similar work—even in other industries. There are often more similarities than you might think. Leaders might be amazed at how much they have in common with each other. I recently had a conversation with an executive at a nuclear power company. As someone who has spent a good amount of time in financial services, I was fascinated to discover the similarities between the industries. After all, we both care about risk, control, oversight, and avoiding incidents. We learned from each other. 

But more importantly, keep in mind the ”experience” part of “total experience.” When you build your strategy, are you working toward something your customers, employees, partners, and regulators would love to experience, or what you think they would love to experience? Talk to your users and ask them where you should start. Question those who think they know. 

During periods of uncertainty, people crave predictability. They want to live and work with as little friction as possible. That is precisely why combining CX and EX is so important. Creating a total experience that includes customers, employees, and other stakeholders makes everyone’s lives easier and better.

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Simon collaborates with companies to leverage the ServiceNow platform.