person walking on a tightrope
PHOTO: Loic Leray

With the right design, companies can boost their CX performance.

Customer experience design starts by exploring and defining a problem in the market that a company or brand wants to understand using primary and secondary research, said Tamara Peyton, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology assistant professor, human-centered interaction design. “The research might include customer data analytics, ethnographic work like observations and customer focus groups, and large-scale surveys of customer populations. It can also incorporate understandings drawn from older market-driven approaches, such as the ‘voice of the customer’ approach, that pulls in customer feedback from a variety of digital and traditional sources.”

Importance of Proper Design

Customer experience design determines whether organizations succeed or fail, according to Mark Opland, vice president of design at Onfido. “A mature design practice enables businesses to effectively influence and optimize customer interactions. It’s how creativity brings brands to life in the eyes of customers. It’s also vital in ensuring the business, product, or service is accessible and user-friendly. This is key to experience and can be a competitive differentiator.”

A successful brand shapes customers’ experiences by embedding value into every feature and delight into every experience, Opland added. All the elements of CX should be assessed by cross-departmental teams to find common perspectives and identify the moments that matter most to customers. This collaboration enables businesses to break out of their silos to envision key outcomes and specific tactics together.

“While CX seeks to add delight to customer experiences, design looks to reduce friction to amplify that delight and improve business outcomes,” Opland said.

The data enables designers to understand an organization’s CX landscape, from which they will create a customer journey map that examines customer’s journey through the company’s environment (such as a store) or through their service offering (such as a movie theater), according to Peyton.

“Once the journey is understood, the design team can make informed decisions about what touchpoint aspects should be improved in order to ameliorate customer satisfaction with the brand or company,” Peyton said.

Related Article: With Customer Experience Design, Less Is More

Proper Metrics Are Essential

“You can’t improve what you don’t measure,” said Musa Hanhan, Genesys senior director, global NPS and customer experience. “A core piece of a solid CX design or VoC practice is to have the right metric. It starts with knowing what, where, and how you want to move the needle on the experience your customer has with your brand.”

So whatever metrics a company chooses, it’s essential to focus on what the organization wants to do with the data: improve on the experience, your processes, products, etc. or simply chasing a score, Hanhan said. He cautioned that focusing on score chasing will result in companies constantly shifting measuring tools and that tracking for action will become non-existent.

A true VoC/CX practice will focus on both qualitative and quantitative data to focus on the actions that will improve and provide the right experience for the customer, Hanhan added. This method allows you to get to the “why” of a score which becomes more relevant to building out your corporate strategy and providing insights for innovation.

Related Article: Go Beyond Surveys to Measure Customer Experience

Balance Customer Interests and Business

But proper design also means balancing customer and corporate interests, said Lily Olsson, associate vice president of CallisonRTKL. “It’s the marrying of these two often ‘at war’ opponents: consumer vs. bottomline that makes the magic of CX design so challenging and rewarding for the designers and the brand.”

The balance between the consumer and business needs to consider internal organizational verticals and how they'll work together from the perspective of the customer, Olsson added. “Our job as CX designers is facilitating opening dialogues for IT to talk to operations, marketing, finance, and getting these groups together to talk about what’s wrong, and how to solve for it, simply and intelligently, but most importantly, together.”

However, if internal groups are working together to enable a ‘magical’ customer experience, but then the customer has to wait in a 20-minute queue to check out because the IT department couldn’t get mobile POS ready in time, it negates all the efforts of the groups that worked to design the overall experience for the customer, Olsson added.

If the organization can successfully marry its and its customers' interests in CX design, it will be able produce a set of business-case backed recommendations, estimating financial investment, operational requirements, conversion opportunities and most importantly, the return on brand engagement and/or revenue for implementing each CX design opportunity identified, Olsson added.