The shift is on. In nearly every vertical, it seems, company leaders are recognizing that the the traditional, data model-driven, bottom line worshipping approach of the classic management consultant is perhaps not the best way to solve problems and engage customers. Executive teams shuttle off to three-day intensives at Stanford’s d.School to learn the techniques and tenets of Design Thinking: a different approach that entails evaluating a challenge, from proper definition of the problem space, through rapid prototyping, brainstorming and thoughtful iteration. This approach is particularly well-suited to solve problems – both interface-related, and business-centric.

But a different approach is not the only reason….

Brand value, and perception in the marketplace has become a weathervane for corporate health. Satisfied customers promoting your products and services to each other? Your stock price is probably on the move upward. Error-prone applications and poor customer service? Time to go into damage control mode on Twitter. Experience – especially first-time experience – is proving to be a critical factor to locking in long-term positive brand perception. In fact, in a recent study commissioned by EffectiveUI, 87 percent of people say that a frustrating digital experience leads to at least a somewhat negative perception about that brand.

It’s clear that experience has a real impact on brand value, which has a real effect on the bottom line. What experiences are we talking about? Primarily digital experiences, or at the very least, how traditionally offline experiences can be connected or transitioned to digital experiences. It’s likely that right now, the omnichannel touch point discussion is raging inside of your C-suite. While a balanced, multi-channel approach is generally the right framework, “omnichannel” is too often used as a code word for a myopic focus on transitioning as many services as possible from phone, brick and mortar, and direct mail channels solely to digital. And while this isn’t a bad thing, it does require intimately understanding the strengths and limitations of a digital product’s experience. It also requires mapping your customer’s entire journey through touch points with your brand, both on and offline. It’s likely you already have a partner with the expertise to navigate these requirements.

This partner is your Experience Services Firm: a firm that focuses solely on designing meaningful, connection-driven digital products is the ideal choice to prove out the brand persona that your ad agency is putting out into the marketplace.

As customers are provided with – and create – more and more pathways to interact with your brand, battle lines are being drawn. Externally, your customer has an ever-undulating, holistic perception of your brand, while internally your division heads may be lucky to be talking to one another once a quarter. This disconnect between the way your organization is structured and the perception that your customers have of your brand often manifests itself in highly inconsistent digital experiences, with one division’s content neatly tailored for mobile, while another’s doesn’t even match the current corporate design standards. While consistency at a certain, base level is important, division-level strategy as a subset and driver of corporate strategy carries more weight. If each division is thoughtfully plotting their next moves with customer experience in mind (including where there touch points meet other division’s), the result will be a positive experience for customers, regardless of 100 percent consistency in every aspect of the style guide.

Setting divisional strategy is hard. Probably harder than corporate strategy, since the latter  relies on each and every division to execute. The divisions are the workhorses of corporate success. For too long, while management consultants are often engaged by the c-suite, division heads are left to build their own strategies on their own. And the emerging need to define strategy at this level demonstrates an interesting pattern. The C-suite is well-versed and comfortable defining corporate mission and values, while the division is well-versed and comfortable defining initiative roadmaps and project schedules. This covers 80 percent of what is needed for an ideal corporate strategy that is both meaningful and flexible. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in working with some of our large enterprise clients, what’s missing is the glue that binds the two together: The Strategy Statement.

One of the frameworks we like looks like this:

Mission Statement

Values

STRATEGY STATEMENT

Initiatives/Roadmap

Implementation Plans

Without a division-centric strategy statement, corporate will continue to set goals that divisions will be measured on fulfilling, and that fulfillment will happen one project and initiative at a time, without strategic guidance that ladders up to corporate values directly. The creation of a strategy statement that leverages the strengths of your division is also the perfect opportunity to incorporate experience into your approach. Large enterprises are adopting UX at the product and project level at surprising speed. However, adoption in the interface can only move the needle so far. To be most effective, differentiating on experience should be a key component of your divisional strategy, playing on your strengths and your unique value proposition.