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How to: Design Exceptional Customer Experience

How to: Design Exceptional Customer Experience

In this edition of our ‘How to’ newsletter we are going to explore what the concept of ‘exceptional customer experience’ really means and share some thought starters on how you can heighten your current customer experience. Let’s first start with the definition of what “customer experience design” (CXD) actually means. Wikipedia defines it as: “The product of an interaction between an organisation and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes a customer’s attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy and purchase and use of a service. It is measured by the individual’s experience during all points of contact against the individual’s expectations.” As this is a relatively new idea you will find everyone has their own idea or concept of what it actually means to their organisation. What is true is the level of complexity this type of design brings into the corporate framework. The larger you are the harder it becomes to manage the experiences of your customers across all touchpoints. This is mainly due to legacy systems that don’t want to play nice, organisational bureaucracy, as well as a lack of understanding of customer segments and customer behaviour. As an agency we have many clients approaching us trying to figure out how to start, where to start, and what is needed. Ultimately there is no perfect place to start: ideally you need to identify the moment/touchpoint that has the most impact. Think of it as the Pareto Principle – ideally 20% of your interactions make up 80% of the overall customer experience. In 2010, Andy Buddy developed a thought piece titled “Designing the User Experience Curve”. In it he mapped out the ideal customer experience across his hotel stay whilst on holiday.

He very cleverly mapped out his experience across two axes and showed the impact of each touchpoint on his overall experience. It’s this data that can provide a clear starting point and show the Pareto Principle of CX design coming to life. No one expects everything to be exceptional. In many ways we’re built to handle a level of friction in our interactions, however our job as marketers is to ensure that these friction points are picked up and redesigned. This ensures an optimal experience that drives customer satisfaction, acquisition, and retention. In a majority of cases, and like in the example given, the starting point for CXD is qualitative and quantitive data. If you are a big company with many touchpoints, chances are that you have a lot of data to use. By taking this data, segmenting it and building pattern models via inference you can quickly plot your customer journey and identify the areas in the journey that could provide a net, net positive impact on your overall customer experience. Although this gives you a starting point, it does not tell you what to do. In many cases of CXD most people tend to focus on making things better by making things more usable and useful. Although this is a good start, it is not true experience design. Making something that ‘sucks’ simply ‘not suck’ does not mean it is better. Ideally CXD is about the experience the brand wants its customers to have. True customer experience should be a platform that gives brand personality, tone, values, and mission a voice to speak from. Today’s consumers (especially millennials) want to be part of something greater. Our society, like the world, is getting smaller and tighter. We all want to be part of a tribe. We want a sense of belonging and to be part of a community that understands us and sees the world in a similar way. As an agency our definition of customer experience design is built on the fusion of 3 core principles: Customer Experience Design graphic In our model we start the experience design by first understanding the brand and what its purpose is in the world. In many cases we look at how the brand’s personality comes to life digitally as most customer experiences either begin or end in this space. Once defined we look at how current and future environments need to be tailored/optimised to tighten the overall experience. The key is about micro-moments and micro-changes that provide the most impact. In many cases we find clients want to do dramatic macro-changes to impact the customer experience. In some cases this may be the right approach, however in the majority of cases I have found that real change comes from optimising the micro-moments within the experience. In a way, what I’m saying is: “sweat the small stuff”. Now the last and most important step is data. Data is not numbers. What you need to do is look at data to tell you stories. When most people look at data in the context of CX they look at the binary information it provides i.e. it’s working versus it’s not working, people are buying versus people are not buying. This is the wrong way to look at data. You need to understand that CX is not a set-and-forget experience. You need think of it in the context of storytelling. What you need to do is segment the data into behavioural patterns and look at the propensity of behaviours through the customer experience. What this allows you to do is to break the overall experience into micro experiences which is where the real issue is. From this point onward you need to be in an infinite loop of user experience design optimisation, testing, and tweaking. Like I said there is no set-and-forget in CX. You need to be ok with handling large datasets and understand that data tells stories. By breaking these stories down you can find the small changes that make the biggest impact.