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Envoy chief creative officer identifies a changing dynamic between physical and digital experiences

360 Magazine 
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Envoy chief creative officer identifies a changing dynamic between physical and digital experiences

Envoy Russ Rommelfanger

If you were to ask Russ Rommelfanger to show you what the future of customer experience design looks like, he might point you to the MacDonald’s building located in the West Loop neighbourhood of Chicago.

As the chief creative officer and co-founder of Envoy — which describes itself as a “hybrid agency” based in Orange Country, Calif. –Rommelfanger doesn’t use MacDonald’s as an example simply because of its reputation and scale. Instead, he suggests the brand’s corporate headquarters shows how the traditional way companies think through digital and physical CX is being turned inside-out.

This includes a wall with over a hundred framed digital displays that an Envoy company called Leviathan created to show MacDonald’s ‘Hamburger University’ trainees in current attendance, with fun facts and pictures of the upcoming talent.

At the front entrance, meanwhile, sits “Hamburger Wall,” which showcases the brand’s legacy using interactive screens and videos of important timelines and events throughout the company’s history. Then there’s the educational kiosk of large scale mosaics features families whose lives have been impacted by Ronald McDonald House.

“Years ago (CX) as about how to get the experience right in-store and then take that online,”  Rommelfanger told 360 Magazine. “Now it’s about how to create experiences online and take that to consumers who are expecting and desiring key elements when they come into a physical space.”

Rommelfanger said this kind of approach calls for holistic thinking and a set of skills that often aren’t available through a single partner. That’s why Envoy tries to focus not only helping companies with their global brand strategy, but also digital transformation and telling stories that help accelerate growth.

“Generally it starts with the user — helping the brand get out of the way of the transaction and making it fluid is paramount,” he said. “The customer is looking for an experience beyond the conversion, though. They want deeper and richer stories, and they want to see themselves in the brand.”

Envoy also makes sure to demonstrate how CX is connected to the employee experience. While its guiding principle, “Be human,” is not unlike those espoused by other agencies and brands, Envoy shapes employee experiences based on quarterly themes. Most recently, for instance, its theme was ‘Stay Connected,’ which informed a series of wellness programs and workshops offered to its team.

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Besides its traditional client work, meanwhile, Envoy recently announced its intention to invest directly into companies that are creating experiences of the future through a new arm called Envoy Ventures.

To Rommelfanger, all these moves converge around the need to help companies develop journeys that educate, inspire and ultimately allow customers to purchase in new and more efficient ways.

“Physical spaces are not going away, instead they are evolving to better meet the needs of a changing customer through digital,” he said, adding that much of Envoy’s current ‘digital environments” work is in branded corporate projects to create themed entertainment, events, and public spaces. “We do believe traditional commerce experiences will follow suit.”

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