User in the middle… he is King Bunny

Over the last months I had the chance to have great conversations or overhear conversations of/with professional experience designers. Hearing and participating in them makes a path of learning that I started two years ago ever more visible and relevant. Analytics, SEM, SEO, diverse web and mobile applications and services and finally interaction design and user interphase design were just the tip of the ice berg of a larger and deeper topic that encompasses all of them and goes beyond.

Customer-centricity as a strategy for success is hot idea, but the idea itself is not new. Over 100 years ago, James Cash Penny built his retail empire with a well known commitment to the customer, and many have sought insight from his wisdom since then.

Attending a couple of industry conventions over the last year a buzzing term came to my ears for the first time inviting me to have look at how the way we do business, and deliver services and products to a global pubic. “Customer Journey” is the term that is revolutionizing the web and the business models that survive for it; It has renewed interest in the development of customer-focused service excellence as a differentiation and growth strategy. “Customer journey” is now, the subject matter that is studied by the new science/art of Experience Design.

Although the concept is not new, the tasks of “that guy” who is artsy/tech savvy start taking a new shape because innovative approaches are required for today’s digital world to ensure accuracy and efficiency in service delivery across online and offline channels supported by top notch tech. Adopting the technology and practices to achieve this might seem difficult, or hard to grasp for the traditional business but on the positive side, there is a wealth of information and advice available online to help anyone get started.

First, one must understand the big picture, and then tailor a plan based on the most critical needs and the best opportunities.

Taking in the Big Picture

A few phrases come to my mind to enable and adopt a complete customer experience strategy. Together these efforts create the foundation and framework to consistently deliver exceptional experience while leveraging the investment made in a software development project.

  1. Refine and gather experience objectives
  2. Align staff to project purpose and goals
  3. Establish a multi-disciplinary Customer Insight/Experience Team
  4. Scope the customer journey and wireframe the touch points and details
  5. Design a comprehensive plan to manage experience
  6. Create and implement policies, procedures and tools to track customer interactions and deliver exceptional customer experience
  7. Deliver customers exceptional experience
  8. Measure and analyze actual customer experience
  9. Create and implement optimizations based on team, employee and customer feedback

Get oriented by understanding the steps, but start the project by getting your leadership team on board.  While the long-term ability to create and deliver exceptional customer experience relies on the alignment and efforts of all your employees, it’s critical that leadership clarify and internalize the reasons and the expectations for these efforts first. Overview why you’re undertaking the project, how you expect to achieve success and emphasize the need for full participation in both planning and execution.

When the senior team shares the vision and understands the transformative nature of this project, there will be less friction, more active participation and better outcomes as staff recognize and develop new freedoms and responsibilities. This first effort in gaining leadership buy-in and soliciting their feedback can have major impact by exposing existing service gaps and identifying quick wins to improve customer satisfaction and smoother operations.

Think Design, Think Digital

Early in your analysis of improving customer experience, consider how the rise of new digital channels and rapidly changing customer behaviour is changing the way that prospects find you, leads convert, and customers expect to manage your business relationship. Today’s customer journey is full of digital touch points; well-connected prospects and customers are using online reviews and social feedback to meet at both ends of the lifecycle – to identify your business as the right solution, and more often than ever, to communicate your value to your next customer.

No matter where you start, improving customer experience should be a priority. What has been a historic staple of business success isreborn in the digital Age of the Customer. It doesn’t matter if you provide financial services; you are a large retailer or an individual entrepreneur… Experience Design should be the new pillar of your business and your users and customers should be in the middle, like King Bunny.

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