Companies are increasingly becoming aware of the need to differentiate their offerings by creating experiences for their customers.  In an age of relentless competition, CX has become one of the few truly unique methods for an organization to showcase its personality and uniqueness.

Great CX is surprisingly difficult to define – but we know it when we see.  And while it’s not necessarily as subjective as, say, a painting, building the right program to market to your audience can be difficult for an organization to put its finger on.  Companies often don’t know where to start when beginning their journey towards creating an experience-based initiative.

All successful CX programs have common threads running through them.  Here are 3 of the traits that we see time and again in the best experiential programs.

1 – They appeal to the senses

When customers are able to see, feel, taste, smell, or hear – in other words, experience – the products they use, they are better able to picture themselves as customers.  Think of the smell of freshly fried doughnuts or the feeling of holding a new golf club.  These are very tangible interactions, and many companies are missing out on the potential of this approach.

By intentionally engineering your offerings to connect with your customers on this level you’re doing what many companies fail to do.  The possibilities here are virtually endless, as they can be as unique to your company or product as you’d like them to be.

2 – Product and experience are separate

Your product is not the same as your experience.  You’re creating an experience so that you can sell your product, but don’t confuse the two.  Many companies rely on their product, thinking that whatever it is they sell will be good enough to provide differentiation.  It’s not.

Leaders in customer experience – think Starbucks, Target, and Texas Roadhouse, for example – all offer great products in their respective spaces, but they have a look, feel, and personality that is all their own.  If those companies were to lean exclusively on their products they wouldn’t be noteworthy.  After all, you can buy the products these companies sell at many places, but customers have loyalty to these organizations because they have been able to separate their experience from their products.

3 – It’s an experiment

Customer trends, attitudes, and behaviors are constantly shifting.  Because of that, companies who continue to find success are the ones that are able to shift along with their customers.  Companies that are willing to tinker and try new things are better positioned to maintain relevance.

Unfortunately, this is not an exact science.  The understanding that some actions will fall flat is just as important as willingness to create changes in the first place.  Even the biggest companies out there are constantly trying to meet the changing expectations of their customers.  That can mean a new layout, new branding, new products, or other means.  Sometimes these changes work – and sometimes they don’t.  While it’s impossible to know for sure how the market will react to changes, the companies who routinely have success leverage research on their customers to help inform their choices.

The prospect of launching into a CX program can seem daunting, particularly to companies that haven’t before made this a priority.  Using these traits as a template for dipping your toes in the water of such a program can help you begin your planning.