Adobe’s recent Experience Maker’s Live two-day online event was insightful, thoughtful, and informative, just as I predicted. While I knew what kind of high-quality content I could expect from one of their events, I headed into the virtual conference with one pressing question: what exactly is an experience maker?
It didn’t take long before the question was answered.
The short answer is that an experience maker is a new breed of leader – one who is flexible, puts customers at the center, and is helpful in the most creative ways possible. It’s a crucial outlook on leadership in modern business, especially for those who are looking to improve customer experiences, digitize business processes, and create better internal alignment.
Let’s look closer at what are Adobe’s big three components of what defines an Experience Maker, as told by Marissa Dacay, Sr. Director, Global Enterprise Marketing at Adobe, and why these qualities are crucial for modern business.
An Experience Maker Is Empathetic
One of the major themes throughout the two-day event was that times have changed drastically, and things will never be the same again. While the message appears foreboding, the truth is, it’s an opportunity – if we can navigate it correctly. In Marissa’s opening statement she explained that these elements are used in ways that are “setting resilient businesses from the rest of the pack.”
One of the biggest, and most important, aspects of an Experience Maker is empathy. Empathy for customers, empathy for colleagues and employees, and empathy for yourself. Knowing that each of these stakeholders is navigating uncertainty and could be struggling with entirely new problems means that you need to care about, and respond to these problems.
This means rethinking the customer journey, rethinking customer experiences, rethinking content and how you can be helpful and supportive of prospects and customers, and to your own teams. Empathy means “understanding that feelings influence decisions and trust,” and using that in your business decision making.
While initially, some panic meant that companies cut B2B solutions contracts in anticipation of dwindling revenue, many businesses who have leadership and customer-facing employees who are empathetic, are seeing their customer base double down and remain loyal as they’re being helped to weather the storm. As Marissa described it, as modern leaders, “we are not here to merely sell, we’re here to help.”
An Experience Maker Is Adaptable
Another important theme from the EML virtual conference is that if businesses haven’t already begun their digital transformation, it may not be too late, but they will certainly face a bigger uphill battle. The reason primarily being the ability to be adaptable to anything that may come your way.
Companies and their leaders who focus on digital-first experiences, customer support, and internal collaboration and communication are the ones who have most easily been able to pivot in terms of their position and offerings or adapt internal processes to remote work and new customer journeys. Marissa explained that in these times, there is “power in the pivot. Scenario planning is shifting, and b2b especially needs more late-stage content” for the customer. Experience makers now need to be asking themselves questions like, “how do you get a product demo into virtual content?”
With manual processes, and slow-moving internal organizations, you may have greater difficulty in making this pivot – but all is not lost. Now we’ve seen that our global economy can shift in an instant, and the Experience Makers will help their businesses to be prepared for anything in the future.
This mentality of “come what may” and ability to be flexible and adapt very quickly, ensures that businesses have the grit to make it out the other side of this trying time, and any others that will inevitably occur in the future.
An Experience Maker Is Inclusive
This means a few different things: inclusiveness in the broader sense means making sure employees, customers, and other stakeholders alike feel listened to, and that there is content, solutions, and experiences that speak to their needs. As Marissa put it, “your customers are living in a different world and their needs have changed. You must understand your customer in real-time.”
It also means that leaders and businesses must strive to reach higher levels of self-awareness when it comes to their greater role in society, as difficult topics in diversity and equality must be faced head-on. As consumers and employees alike seek to align themselves with companies and individuals who embody important values, experience makers need to be diligent in their self-education, growth, and inclusion in all aspects of the business.
When drilled down further, we can see that modern businesses need to be continually inclusive in the customer journey. Experience makers then must both proactively anticipate needs in a fully holistic manner and also be able to quickly adapt when a gap in inclusivity is discovered. This means ensuring that customers are able to find and access useful, helpful, and robust information at all stages of their buying journey, before and after purchase. Here is where inclusiveness is also pertinent to internal alignment and establishing flexible, customer-centric processes.
When it comes to leadership in modern businesses, we are being tested in ways we have never encountered before. But true experience makers can take the hand we’ve been dealt and leverage it for new opportunities that put customers at the center, encouraging relationships, better business models and internal processes, and more satisfaction inside and outside organizations. Leaders now, more than ever, need to be empathetic, adaptable, and inclusive, and then an uncertain future becomes much easier to take on.