The digital age is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, technology and the Internet have made it easy for brands to reach and engage with their target markets. But on the other hand, it's lowered the barriers for entry into various industries and has increased the ferocity of business competition. The expectations put on new businesses are high and tolerance is low; it's more about survival of the fittest and less about who the big disruptors are.

Right now, there is a competitor to your business who is figuring out how to connect the dots between new technologies and discovering solutions faster than you. The digital landscape has become a battlefield of sorts in a time where customer loyalty is becoming increasingly difficult to measure; customers will readily embrace the next best option in your industry instead of waiting for you to play catch up. Today's customers are overwhelmed with options and technologies; they're experiencing a digital overload that provides opportunities to make a customer's life easier and more enjoyable. Now more than ever, businesses need the agility, flexibility and workplace culture to adapt to their customer's needs.

Beyond Customer Mapping

It's no longer enough to just journey map your customers - today, businesses need to go beyond basic mapping. Businesses need to get into the field and discover who their true customers are and fully immerse themselves in the customer journey. With full customer immersion, you'll be able to understand your customers' emotions and what drives them to make certain decisions.

In other words, businesses need to know the target market better than anyone, and it's this mentality that inspired  Solstice, an innovation and digital engineering firm, to develop an iterative, collaborative process called Customer Experience Driven Development (CXDD). CXDD combines the power of Agile development processes with human centered design and rapid experimentation to see what their clients can't see and to know what their customers need before they realize it. Your company's survival over the next five to 10 years will depend on how well you understand your customers' needs and emotions.

Current enterprises are too slow to adapt to the changing times. There's a need to be Agile, but also customer-focused and in older companies it's difficult to mobilize entire teams and get them on board with a project. At Solstice, every employee immerses themselves in a project to get inside the head of the customer. In short, they live the brand and become the customer.

Iteration Never Stops

Staying ahead of the competition means you need to constantly be iterating and thinking about what the customer wants or needs. Rapid experimentation will differentiate your business from the pack, but in addition to experimentation the successful enterprises are the ones who can connect the dots the fastest.

One of the biggest hurdles in the digital age is an enterprise's inability to adapt to new technology or behaviors. Enterprise organizations struggle to adopt the startup mentality because constant iteration requires walled gardens to focus resources on research, experiments, tests and POCs. Observe, learn and evolve as you race to meet customer expectations and deliver a product with all the right features.

Excellent Customer Experiences Start With Your Internal Culture

Creating a differentiating customer experience needs to be ingrained in your company culture. Happy employees are more likely to create better customer experiences because when your employee feels engaged at work, they become even more engaged in the client.

Your company needs to create a culture that provides freedom and flexibility for self-organizing teams so they have opportunities to innovate and feel empowered. Successful companies have high employee engagement; recent studies show organizations with engaged workers have been shown to outperform companies with low employee engagement by  202%.

Solstice's CXDD methodology scales company culture that focuses on creating winning digital experiences for their enterprise clients. The CXDD method helps Solstice clients deliver on their digital priorities while internalizing the secret sauce and characteristics of culture that win in the marketplace.

To remain a top competitor, businesses need to always have one eye on the horizon. It's not enough to be thinking about the technology and solutions that solve your customer's needs today. Your business ideas for today are already obsolete in the marketplace of tomorrow. Focus on constant iteration and understanding who your target market truly is. The businesses that survive are the ones that are always taking that extra step to stay ahead of the technology game.

Published on: Jul 1, 2016