Ben Draper – Why It’s Time to Start Valuing the Importance of Experience

In his first blog for Infologue.com, Ben Draper, Chief Operating Officer of Ward Security, discusses the importance of prioritising experience within the security sector, for both customers and employees.

To remain relevant and compete in today’s ever-changing world, experience must be top of mind for every person in your business. From management to marketing, from front-line to back-office, everyone needs to be invested to deliver a great experience. And this is especially important in our sector, with large and diverse workforces, many of whom are working within our clients’ businesses and interacting with their clients every day.

But how often do we talk about or prioritise experience, over price, margin, or operational detail?

Its perhaps important to first explore what we mean by experience and why it matters. Twenty years ago, it would have been much easier to define experience, which sat firmly in the remit of anyone interacting directly with a customer: whenever they (a customer) interact with your organisation or brand, make sure the time they spent with the brand was worthwhile, and they leave feeling respected, maybe delighted, and prepared to come back for more. But for employees, the notion and importance of creating a great experience was still in its infancy – it was all about the customer.

Roll forward to 2024, and what we expect from organisations and brands has transformed exponentially.  At a time when we’re facing constant change amid economic, social, environmental, and political change, behaviour can change, as can be what we want, need, and expect from a brand experience. And increasingly, the employee experience – how well they are treated, rewarded, recognised, trained – is central to retention and being an employer of choice in the emerging talent wars.

One of the most significant shifts in experience has come from the connection of the inside to the outside. In other words, the realisation that some of the most powerful and differentiated experiences you deliver as a brand can be through the employees who deliver it. In other words, the human element is the differentiator. And this could not be more important for our sector.

Interestingly, experience and its value is not a new concept. ‘The Experience Economy’ was a phrase coined by James Gilmore and Joseph Pine just over 20 years ago, when they published their now famous article in the Harvard Business Review, and subsequent book, which talked about how a good experience equates to value and competitive advantage. Their premise was that your customers see value in time – either time well spent, or time saved. And this is especially important with physical experiences, which create value based on relationships and the quality of engagement.

Ward have more than 600 front line employees placed within high profile buildings within the City of London. Each day they not only represent the Ward brand, but also that of our clients’ customers, which is a significant responsibility on and above the core requirement to keep the building and the people within it safe. Thinking in this way moves us beyond the realm of simply providing a service, a commodity, and into the space of how you can make its delivery, through your people, memorable, effective and market leading. In other words, the whole experience.

So, what does this mean for how we meet and deliver a great experience, against a backdrop client and employee expectations?  We believe it starts on the inside, with our people, and their personal experience within the workplace. At Ward, we are heavily focused on fostering a positive experience for our team, to create the right culture, which we ultimately want to be a supportive meritocracy. At its core is ensuring we do the basics well, which covers aspects like on-boarding, training, reward, recognition, development and vitally, good communication. Getting this recipe right sets a firm foundation, so our people, whatever their role, personally understand the value of a good experience.

The next aspect is to ensure that we understand our clients’ world and their expectations of what they consider to be a good experience. Many Ward clients have high expectations of what they want their client experience to be. So, it’s vital we take time to understand this, and what our role is in helping them to deliver it brilliantly. And this isn’t something reserved for a pitch presentation or boardroom chat, it’s something that every member of our team should be aware of and understand, as we all have a role to play in how successfully we do this.

Finally, it’s important to have a clearly defined brand that embodies everything you stand for, inside and out. Our employee and customer value propositions are rooted in experience. Why? Because we believe it’s something that’s not just important and relevant, but vitally it gives us something to constantly aspire to.