Efficiency vs Experience in the Digital Age

I recently read a blog by design and innovation company Fjord, about insights they took away from a recent Forrester information forum on customer experience. I’ve posted the link below. There is a great perspective on why it is so important, to walk in the customers shoes and inspire a digital mindset, into a companies core culture.


For years, businesses have swapped out one efficiency methodology for another. Six Sigma for Kaizen, Kaizen for Lean etc. What originally started out as an effective way of defining process improvement in areas like manufacturing and hospitality, quickly moved into banking, retail operations, and before we knew it customer experience.

In the age of digital, where customers expect an “Always On” service and experience, companies are having to rethink their definition of process re-engineering. Once upon a time, it was about getting the product to the customer as quickly as possible. Then, it was about getting it to the customer with minimal touch points. Following that, it was about off-shoring the left over touch points to reduce cost.  All these were part of a race to increased efficiencies.

Today however, in the digital age the product is no longer the highest priority for customers. It is now a mixture of the product combined with the buying and owning experience. This means that companies who can adopt emerging digital technology, to create new buying and ownership experiences for customers, are not caught up in the race for efficiency that has been the focal point for major businesses in years gone by.

Take a company like Airbnb for example. They have removed the cleaning process, the check in process, the asset management process (to name just a few) as they relate to accommodation for hire – all through their use of technology to create a user experience that has resonated with millions of customers. In times gone by, hotels that had the best location, cleanest facilities and efficient staff were leaders in their field. Now, their market share is being eaten up by an accommodation leasing company, that decided it would create a completely different experience and go Over The Top – OTT.

My point in all of this, is that it is important for businesses to first and foremost look at the customer experience they want to offer, and how they can use technology and digital transformation to disrupt their market.

What once was first and foremost about efficiency, is now about experience first.

If you choose to focus on efficiency in your operations as your highest priority in the digital transformation, you just might find your competition has reinvented the expectations of your customer base, while you were off defining how to better meet the demands of yesterday.