With more than 25 years’ experience in global hospitality, AHRAMIZ founder and President Hesham Almekkawi is the author of upcoming book ‘The 9 Traits of Hero Brands’.

Here the Gulf CX Awards judge tells CXM World why today’s customers are more interested in the overall experience, rather than simply looking for the ‘best’ products or services.

Not too long ago, customers looked for the best food, best service, and best products whenever they dined out or went shopping.

Cinema goers cared more about the movie, not so much for the comfort of their seat or the various extras offered by the theater.

Customers have—and will remain—people who look for the best value for money.

This will never change. What has changed is that nowadays customers value the overall experience, not necessarily the perfections of the product or service.

It has become more about total enjoyment and less about single-factor perfection.

The idea is not new. When you visit Disney World, you don’t think about what you will eat inside the park or what you will buy from the gift shop.

You wait in long lines waiting for rides with no frustration and everyone is smiling and happy, enjoying the entire experience from when you arrive to the minute you leave.

You don’t remember what you ate or bought inside the park, but you always remember the great moments you spent with family or friends.

A few years ago, I took my kids to Disney World and it rained heavily, forcing us to wear raincoats the entire day.

We had so much fun, despite the fact it was not the perfect day to be in a theme park. It was not about how perfect the day was, it was rather about what Disney had to offer that made us forget the rain.

The idea of ‘total experience’ has become the norm for customer engagement nowadays. It is not just about the movie anymore—it’s about the movie; the comfort of the seats; the function of the theater as 3D, 4D, or XD; and the food available.

We are getting lazy in our enjoyment. We need a place that has all the above with reasonable prices.

The same idea occurs in the phone industry. The companies that could maximize their market share and profits are those which understood early on the experiential factor, and realized that a phone is no longer just a device to make a call—it’s a camera, a GPS device, a gaming platform, and so much more.

It is no longer about how clear the sound is during calls, or how durable the device is; it’s about more enjoyment and less perfection.

Let’s look at current trends in restaurants design.

We now see cool, alternative layouts compared to traditional venues with cookie cutter modular design.

The old designs became boring and predictable. Millennials are looking for ‘instagrammable’ moments.

For many of this generation, a funky looking glass is great, regardless of the drink inside it.

A waiter with ripped jeans and a bandana is cooler and easier to engage with than one wearing a white shirt and an apron.

Even major chains have started to design their outlets to look differently from one another, with each venue having its own ‘personality’.

In my upcoming book 9 Traits of Hero Brands, I have identified what separates ‘hero brands’ from any others.

One of the traits is for the brand to be ‘global friendly’.

In order to be global friendly, the brand must be flexible in order to adapt to local taste, cultural preferences, and global trends.

This is a major reason why home-grown brands started to gain market share—they have no constraints.

They can do whatever is cool or funky without being asked to comply with the rigid standards of international concepts.

Another crucial factor in today’s customer engagement and experience is the readiness of the brand to ‘uberise’ its operation to engage with consumers.

As I mentioned, we are getting lazy as consumers. We need a mobile app to order our food, our airline tickets, and our clothes.

If the business or the brand is behind in this aspect, the brand is not cool anymore. The experience is incomplete.

The game of Customer Experience and engagement is changing. It’s not about how good the core business of a brand is, it is about the other complementary things which make the Customer Experience unique, uberised, cool, and instagrammable.

Written by Hesham Almekkawi