In a world where the number of touchpoints for a brand to engage with their customers are constantly on the rise, there’s an emerging way to navigate these complexities: the open customer architecture.

The open customer architecture is a common framework for thinking about customers’ key life moments and the jobs that customers have to get done at each step. It allows brands to address each job to be done and to make a considered decision to either build, partner or facilitate how the customer completes the job, alone or with its ecosystem partners. Once widely adopted, it will allow brands to not only play a more valuable role in customers’ lives, but to identify new and innovative ways to partner or expand on its own into adjacent industries.

What is prompting this shift?

We have noticed many brands designing and measuring their customer experiences on the single product level. For example, the experience of signing up for a credit card or for a mobile phone plan. Improvements to these product journeys typically yield little to no incremental impact and teams get discouraged or challenged on the value of customer experience to the business.

It clicked for us when we realised that these product journeys are just internal constructs. They exist within a system of multiple product journeys, grouped around a single customer life moment. For example, signing up for a credit card and for a mobile phone plan are two product journeys within the customer life moment of moving to a new country.

The first task for brands is then to recognise which life moment each customer is in, and to customise the path to purchase, language and the product offering. In this case, a bank might talk to a customer who is moving to a new country about a credit card and focus specifically on rewards partners in the Electronics and Furniture category, and allow for the customer to activate and pick-up their card before arriving to New Zealand, and following up once they are here to talk about car, home and contents insurance assuming they will be moving into a new house and buying a car in the next 30 days.

The new task for brands is to then think about all the other jobs that a customer moving to New Zealand might want to do, that isn’t directly in its core service area. For example, moving to New Zealand will involve learning more about which suburb they should live in, where they might go to shop for groceries and where they should buy a car. This immediately offers partnership opportunities with a property manager, grocery retailer and automotive company. In service of the customer, the bank can also now count on new streams of revenue from referrals and an enriched data picture of each customer that will open up future opportunities for investment, mortgage and lending discussions.

Getting started

We are advocating for all our clients to adopt the open customer architecture as a way to achieve incremental gains in their customer experience improvement efforts and as a way to connect more easily with potential partners. In a perfect world, organisations will be structured as cross-functional life-moment tribes with the goal of exceeding cross-category customer expectations. When all of our clients are speaking the same language – that of customer life moments – there is a common framework for collaboration, measuring success and making investments to support customer growth through delivering value when and how customers need them most.

To get started we advocate three simple steps that every brand can adopt as they move towards the open customer architecture:

1. Identify the life moments: What are the key life moments your customers go through? This can range from buying a house, to gaining independence, retirement, moving to a new country, starting school and so on.

2. Define the jobs to be done: Break each life moment down into phases and identify the customer jobs to be done for each stage. Think about both functional and emotional jobs to be done.

3. Build a list of actions: Prioritise the first set of jobs to be done and think how you might re-frame your existing products and services to meet the customer need, partner with other brands or spin-off new lines of business.

The open customer architecture is the future of experience design. It is more than an approach to communications. The open customer architecture is a business strategy for customer-led growth and the brands that start adopting this approach will make incremental gains.

For more information on the framework, how to apply our thinking to your business or partnership discussions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

This article originally featured in Stop Press. Check it out here.

The author is Edwin Rozells, Head of Transformation at Colenso BBDO.