Forget customer experience, human experience is marketing's next frontier

A year ago, Deloitte Digital changed the way it undertakes consulting services

Customer experience (CX) is being superseded by human experience (HX) and it is those companies who recognise this that will have an advantage. Or so says Amelia Dunlop, US head of customer strategy and applied design for Deloitte Digital

A year ago, Deloitte Digital changed the way it undertakes consulting services, bringing anything to do with the customer and marketing under the one roof. This means CX, digital strategy, innovation, digital transformation, human-centred design and all that goes with these, sit together and lead into the sales and marketing groups. 

All of this changes hinges on a new focus for Deloitte Digital: Human-centric design, Dunlop told CMO

Dunlop, who has an undergrad in sociology, a Masters in Theology, and attended business school at Cambridge, joined Deloitte after business school and is passionate about the humanity behind marketing and consumer decisions. 

“We have moved to become all about elevating the HX. We realised we hear so much about CX and employee experience [EX], but none of us wake up as either of those things. We realised there was something much more fundamental we needed to get at,” Dunlop said. “These are questions of meaning, which have been with us since humanity began, but they are more pressing now due to rapid changes in technology. 

“We ask more questions, like what does it all mean? What is the state of the human condition when we think robots will take over our jobs, or social media leaves us feeling isolated, or we bark orders at an Alexa with no please or thank you? 

“What are implications for our humanity in the design of our technology? We have organised everything we are doing towards that goal.” 

Dunlop has been leading research around this, including into neuroscience and the ability to use neuroscience and brain imaging to track eye patterns, to understand the senses, which makes CX more predictive and accurate. This includes understanding that moment of light, when everything works seamlessly, and the moments of frustration.   

The research hopes to literally understand how humanity works in a scientific way. This will be complemented by research into human values, via a ‘human values compass’. 

The idea behind this is each of us have fundamental human values, and understanding what they are and which ones matter most is key. The north and south of the compass will be the ‘known versus the unknown’.

Then there is ‘me versus we’, or east/west, which is self-expression and identity, versus valuing a sense of belonging and following the pack. The implication of this research is discovering values at the level of humanity, which goes far beyond just CX, Dunlop continued. 

“With all the possibilities of the world we live in, my hope is we hit a point around ethics around AI and robotics, where we will jump the curve and the importance of fundamental values of being human will take precedence,” she told CMO

“I hear a lot of rhetoric around HX and CX, but what is the substance behind this? People are using the words, but it turns out there is not a lot behind them. 

“We are trying to find this substance. We are finding the means to define the human experience, elevate experience, and then quantify if there is business value there. That’s what we’re doing right now - developing the human experience quotient. Those companies that focus on HX have two times better returns. It’s exciting and early days, but we are working towards demonstrating the value of this.

Dunlop noted companies are already factoring HX into decision making, and as an example, said facial recognition is being used by optometrists. "But they are discarding this data after using it to fit glasses. And this is a business decision. They are discarding something they could sell, it’s something of value, but they are doing this for brand loyalty and trust," she said.

“My hope is, in the future, this is not an either/or decision. Patagonia has made good money living the values it wants to espouse. I get the four ‘Ps’ of marketing will always exist, but in the long run, consumers demand values and will make choices around this. 

“Consumers, particularly the millennials, want a brand to be an extension of their values. You can’t really know, but I feel you almost can’t get it wrong if you’re working authentically.” 

Of course consumers will still have brands they love and can’t live without, however, there’s an opportunity for greater humanity moving forward, Dunlop claimed. Her prediction is the long-term winners are going to be the ones that understand on a deeper level how to elevate human experience and connect with people.

“We want to be at the forefront in the shift in this dialogue away from CX and EX to a more holistic experience, the human experience, with workforces, partnerships, to elevate to the power of HX. We are aligning our services around this. This is how we are going to make everyone’s lives better.”

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