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It is no longer enough for organizations to simply meet customers' needs. They must exceed their expectations with compelling experiences that are so surprisingly great, they're unexpected. 

Think about some of the world's most successful brands — Uber, Disney and Apple Pay, for example. These market disruptors have all cracked the code on delivering exceptional CX and performance, while simultaneously tightening their grip on customers' limited mindshare, micro-moments of need and loyalty. The common thread among these top-tier brands and other industry leaders is their mastery of a full-stack approach.

What is a full-stack approach? 

A full-stack approach allows leaders to unlock new depths of CX that can drive competitive advantage for their businesses. It considers every layer of CX, from customer-facing engagement channels to back-end operations, and all the orchestration that must happen in between to realize true digital transformation. 

Due to the complexity of these layers, it can be challenging for organizations to achieve full-stack excellence. High performance across the entire stack requires business and technology leaders to rally around a shared CX vision — a type of organizational harmony that only the most innovative, forward-thinking brands can unlock. 

We created WWT's approach to full-stack excellence to make the journey to exceeding customer expectations more approachable and practical. Our model helps organizations build alignment, level up their CX capabilities and focus their investments on the right things so their businesses can thrive. Let's dive in. 

WWT's approach to full-stack excellence is depicted as an iceberg with Experiences above water, orchestrations at the water line, and Operations below the water.

WWT's approach to full-stack excellence

Truly exceptional CXs consist of many complex components working together to create a robust and engaging digital presence. WWT's approach to full-stack excellence, visually represented as an iceberg, provides CX leaders with a comprehensive view of those components, allowing them to quickly identify and capitalize on opportunities for efficiency and growth. 

Our approach serves as a framework for leaders to rationalize and transform the connection between their people, processes, locations and tools. It also helps them to align full-stack technical and creative expertise with business strategy and objectives to ensure digital investments translate directly into measurable returns. The result is mastery at every layer, driving high performance across technology and business. This fuels competitiveness, market disruption and sustainable business models.

Our approach includes three distinct layers:

  1. Experiences: Customer-facing engagement channels
  2. Orchestrations: Integrations and middleware
  3. Operations: Core platforms that enable organizations to run and grow

The experiences layer

At the top of the iceberg is the experiences layer where customers connect with a brand through digital experiences and engagement channels (e.g., website, mobile application, etc.). This layer is the most visible and tangible to customers and requires the most technical depth to ensure operational excellence. 

An image of an iceberg, highlighting the top of the iceberg as the "experiences" layer, in which customers can interact with a brand's engagement channels.
The experiences layer is where brands interact with customers to drive loyalty and engagement.

The experience layer is critical for driving customer engagement, ensuring positive brand perception and fostering business growth. Research shows 79 percent of customers expect seamless and consistent interactions within this layer and 81 percent expect faster service as technology advances. 

What does excellence look like in this layer?

Mastering the experience layer means organizations have created fresh digital experiences that are both aesthetically pleasing and viable, as well as purposeful, predictive, data-driven and aligned with business objectives. 

Where to invest in this layer: 

  1. Data insights and personalization: Leverage customer data to unlock actionable insights and deliver personalized content and offers that improve engagement, grow revenue and boost retention.
  2. Unified commerce and loyalty: Connect physical and digital channels so customers are empowered to seamlessly browse, transact, purchase and consume.
  3. Turning AI into ROI: Accelerate AI adoption to achieve quick wins and kickstart performance improvement while further developing and differentiating your strategy.

The orchestration layer

Sandwiched between the experience and operational layers, the orchestration layer acts as the glue that holds the full stack together. This layer represents an organization's strategy for connecting its people, processes, places and technologies through automation, artificial intelligence (AI), APIs, integrations, platforms, business processes and data. 

The orchestration layer sits right at the waterline of the iceberg and consists of APIs, digital operations, business logic, AI and automation, and strategy.
The orchestration layer enables efficient digital experiences for customers and employees.

When built and optimized correctly, the orchestration layer can help organizations realize significant cost savings — e.g., up to 30 percent reduction in operational costs with hyper-automation — while maximizing productivity and gaining efficiencies.  

What does excellence look like in this layer?

Mastering this layer means building a resilient, secure, high-performance and increasingly automated ecosystem. Actionable data insights and analytics augment employee decision-making at all levels of the organization — from frontline workers to the C-suite. Organizations are empowered to operate more efficiently, reduce costs, increase productivity, make smarter decisions, optimize CXs and enable accelerated growth.

Where to invest in this layer:

  1. Process and data management: Identify ways to streamline workflows and drive savings by making your data work harder and smarter for your bottom line.
  2. AI strategy and alignment: Start identifying relevant AI use cases that will help enhance teams, processes and tools related to CX and mapping them to your data strategy.
  3. Supply chain digitalization: Implement advanced digital solutions for real-time supply chain visibility and management to drive operational efficiency.

The operations layer

At the bottom of the iceberg is the operations layer, the foundation of CX. 

The operations layer sits below the water and behind the scenes from customers. It includes systems of intelligence, systems of record, strategy and governance, digital platforms, systems of scale, and security and monitoring.
The operations layer is the behind-the-scenes layer that powers customer experiences.

This layer consists of:

  • Digital platforms: Built-for-purpose digital solutions that enhance engagement, efficiency and agility.
  • Systems of record: Reliable, compliant, modern data repositories that ensure consistency and integrity.
  • Systems of scale: Adaptable digital infrastructure that evolves with an organization's needs.
  • Systems of intelligence: Data-driven insights and AI-enabled predictive analytics for smarter decision-making and maximum impact.
  • Strategy and governance: Alignment of CXs, business operations and corporate objectives.
  • Security and monitoring: Advanced security protocols and continuous monitoring to safeguard assets and ensure business continuity and resilience.

While invisible to customers, the operations layer is equally important to — if not more than — the other two layers because it houses all the critical systems and platforms that protect an organization's valuable data, enable growth and power exceptional CXs. Ignoring any component of this layer can result in tragic consequences. 

For example, let's look at security and monitoring. Without comprehensive security protocols implemented, it can cost an organization an average of $4.45 million should they encounter a data breach. Given that 81 percent of organizations reported being affected by ransomware in 2023 with 65 percent suffering more than six days of downtime, it's vitally important that security is baked into operations so organizations can prevent disruptions to their CX.

What does excellence look like in this layer?

Mastering this layer means an organization's strategic assets are secure and connected and its technology backbone is robust, scalable and poised for sustainable growth and innovation. This requires a pragmatic approach to balancing technology adoption and time-to-value with long-term scalability and strategy formulation. 

Where to invest in this layer: 

  1. Turning data and AI into bigger profits: Utilize big data, AI and advanced analytics to drive business efficiency, savings, profitability and growth.
  2. Human-centric security: Implement advanced security and risk management protocols to protect against evolving and enduring threats to ensure business continuity.
  3. Infrastructure optimization: Right-size your digital infrastructure spending and optimize your mix of cloud, on-premises and hybrid solutions to improve scalability, flexibility and cost-efficiency across IT and business operations.

A framework for exceeding customer expectations 

Eighty percent of business leaders are prioritizing CX, yet only six percent have experienced a significant increase in their CX quality and satisfaction scores. It's time for organizations to take a more holistic approach to delivering experiences that exceed expectations. 

Our approach to full-stack excellence provides leaders with an actionable framework for reaching higher levels of performance across their entire organization. Guided by your mission and purpose, we can help ensure you're making the right investments and management decisions to achieve your CX goals and maximize profitability.

Request a CX briefing today to get started on your journey to full-stack excellence and identify the best starting point for your organization.