Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

Designing the Future of Customer Experience

My last book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, explored the art and science of experience design. Looking beyond the disparate, but important disciplines of customer experience, brand experience, user experience, service experience, I sought to spark a creative coalescence between them…hence, “X.” It’s the letter, and more importantly, the experience, they share. Why leave experiences to chance? Why should experiences be disconnected and impersonal? Yet, for the most part, even in an era of digital transformation and machine learning, we do.

I think that can change…for the better.

Recently, I joined my friend Mary Drumond on a podcast for Worthix to discuss the power of (and need for) “X” in CX and experience design. I wanted to share it with you here.

Designing the Future of CX with Brian Solis

This post is from our podcast on “The Voices of CX” with Brian Solis, a digital analyst, celebrated keynote speaker, and author of 7 books. He studies disruptive technology and its impact on business at Altimeter Group, and his work is credited with influencing the early digital and social marketing landscape. With his knowledge and expertise in the field of customer experience and disruptive technology, he shares his insights on designing the future of CX, digital transformation in CX, and why the most effective data transformation stories right now are being handled by artists. He also discusses what he hopes the future of customer experience looks like.

When Brian Solis entered the technology industry in the early 1990s, he said that he noticed the emphasis of conversations and innovation around technology. Over the years, he began to take note of how people were changing as a result of technology and started to document and report these things.

Solis realized that as technology continued to involve and as people were changing, a massive gap was developing between how companies operate and how people were evolving. He also noticed how people’s preferences, behaviors, and expectations were changing. That propelled him to begin documenting what he calls “digital Darwinism,” defining this as “the evolution of technology in society.” He has since worked to close this continuously growing gap and has realized that people are not going to move backwards with technology and innovation.

Connecting the Dots

Solis mentioned that instead of trying to predict the future, you can do your best to connect the dots between how things are today and where things are going or; you can connect the dots between what is going on today and how things should be. He said that these are two very different things. In his role, his goal is to understand where society is going, how it is going to evolve, where businesses are going.

Changing Centers of Reference

Solis added that it is not as much of a technology conversation as it is what happens when human beings change and veer away from their original centers of reference.

He provided an example of this by talking about the downfall of Blockbuster and Kodak and how Kodak was disrupted by digital. He went on to explain that it is not simple and that what really happened was that the customer changed so much that the Kodak business model became counter intuitive to how customers now behave and make decisions. Their centers of reference changed.

This also happened with the creation of Uber. People now expect to be able to get an Uber in a few short minutes and quickly get to where they need to go. They no longer want to wait for a taxi or deal with the hassle of taxis. These centers of reference are really important, according to Solis, because a major digital transformation is taking place right now, and CX is the number one driver for advanced digital transformation.

Solis also noted that the way a customer goes about making a decision is nothing like the funnel that companies are making decisions off of, and customers rarely act in the way companies believe they do. He added, though, how this is bound to happen due to our own natural human biases.

Understanding Customer Journeys

Solis spoke about how he always compared designing the customer journey to how Pixar approached movies through a storyboarding process and character development. He also stressed that there are two ways to influence behavior – you can inspire it or you can manipulate it.

Solis said, “We are learning that people are moving in a new direction and the more you try to hold it back or force it into the view of the world that you have, it is going to work for a little while because you can manipulate things, but at some point it doesn’t and it becomes disrupted.”

The Future of CX

Before discussing what he thinks the future of CX looks like, Solis first defined customer experience as “the sum of all engagements a customer has with your company throughout the life cycle,” and he added that it is not about just one moment but about all the moments.

Solis then defined an experience as “an emotional/sensory reaction to a moment” and explained that it can be measured by how you react and what you take away with you. He concluded by stressing the importance of recreating click paths and how those who just create the smallest of click paths to get someone from A to B quickly win.

Listen to the full podcast here!


Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design.

Please, invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire colleagues and fellow executives/boards.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Instagram: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
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