man walking in all white room
The best customer experiences seamlessly anticipate the customer's wants without them even noticing PHOTO: Emile Séguin

Professional artists and designers intuitively know the value of the invisible. The so-called “negative space” that surrounds objects and typefaces — whether in fine art, advertising or app design — directs viewers’ attention to the subject or message, rather than distracting or confusing them with clutter. 

Too bad so many brands ignore the concept of “less is more” when designing their customer experience (CX) initiatives.

Consumers today must weave their way through ever-complex stacks of technology to complete the most mundane digital transactions. When they are forced to hop between a variety of solutions — each with its own separate interface — consistency and seamlessness disappears, resulting in a poor experience. They may become frustrated, overwhelmed or overloaded. Many will simply walk away. 

When interactions are clunky, cumbersome or don’t meet basic expectations, satisfaction suffers. A recent Oracle report found businesses can lose one-fifth of their revenue from “poor customer experiences.” 

If you want to nurture customers through their journey, you must look beyond the visible to deliver effortless, end-to-end experiences that add value in the spaces in between.

CX Design Understands Customer's Needs

Remember the 7-38-55 rule, which states a full 93 percent of communication is nonverbal? Although this is now regarded as an over-simplified maxim, it’s still a reminder that what you say is often far less important than how you say it. 

True CX design means understanding each customer’s “hidden” wants. It means using your people, tools and systems to design transformative transactions and processes in the context of a person’s desires rather than your organization’s immediate business needs. It means delighting the customer at every turn and in every interaction, seamlessly and invisibly.

Making Magic With CX

Disney’s now-famous MagicBand has been touted as a triumph of CX, and for good reason: Disney — as if by magic — figured out how to use digital technology to turn a “negative experience into a positive one,” as Cliff Kuang wrote in Wired. The MagicBand, personalized with your name, comes in various colors and designs and uses a combination of RFID chips and sensors to speed you through lines at the company’s theme parks, access rides without waiting and notify restaurant staff of your impending arrival so you can be greeted by name and seated immediately the moment you step through the door. 

Though they may seem like actual magic, MagicBands are nothing more than invisible technology enablement at its best: a tightly woven, loosely integrated series of systems and processes that work together to deliver the ultimate customer experience efficiently and elegantly.

Optimizing for Invisibility

For many, the best customer experiences are those that go largely unnoticed by the everyday customer. At British Airways, for example, technology helps deliver an optimized CX that begins with booking, continues with check-in and helps passengers navigate from their departure airport to their destination. 

Similarly, financial transactions that once required banking customers to visit their local branch or an ATM can now easily be performed on a smartphone; and healthcare management systems can target advice and resources based on a patient’s past medical history or medications. 

The future of CX lies in these predictive processes that replace endless unread notifications and annoying clickbait ads to create seamless and intuitive transactions.

3 Key Metrics to Measure 'Invisible' CX

These new human-centric brand experiences can only occur if your company is fiercely committed to its customers. The best organizations strive for 100 percent customer satisfaction and design CX programs from the ground up to hit that target. Their CX platforms combine seamless messaging with workflow and process integration to build an optimized, invisible infrastructure on which outstanding experiences can be crafted. 

In the era of invisible CX, developing and measuring it require the same laser focus on the customer. Here are three key metrics to consider:

1. Customer Experience Measurement

By applying embedded metrics end-to-end across processes and workflows, you can provide continuous learning for both your organization and customers. Analytics that track the success of each customer interaction should detect and measure whether your CX initiative was successful. If it wasn't, you can then optimize the process to achieve better results next time. 

Consider abandoned shopping carts online. When a customer fails to complete a check-out, this may indicate the process is too cumbersome or error prone. In those situations, most customers won’t give you explicit feedback about why they left. They’ll just go somewhere else. Capturing workflow-based metrics uncovers implicit customer feedback by consistently reflecting how customers actually behave.

2. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Companies with thriving CX initiatives meticulously track NPS Scores associated with customer service and support. This measures the willingness of customers to recommend their products or services to others. When you benchmark and manage to NPS, and then communicate the results back to your customers quickly and transparently, you further strengthen that most essential of relationships.

3. Retention and Repeat Business

Want to know if your CX program is working? Look no further than how your customers are behaving. If your installed base is heading for the hills, it’s not them, it’s you. Alternately, if your customers are buying additional products, services or upgrades from you, you must be doing something right. Set benchmarks and rigorously follow through on them. If an important customer leaves you for a competitor, find out why and ask them what you could have done better. Track every interaction.

Organizations that deliver the best CX are analytically-focused. They measure, course-correct, adjust and repeat as necessary. That requires an agile infrastructure, with systems and processes that allow quick responses to customer needs. They also talk with their customers honestly and transparently. With that transparency comes trust. If you’re up front with your customers, they’ll be honest with you in return. That way, even your stumbles can help you perfect your CX and obtain the business value you seek the next time around.

Remember in CX, as in design, those negative spaces are anything but. By seamlessly integrating technology to embrace the invisible, and then relentlessly measuring your results, you’ll be well on your way to delighting your customers and reaping the rewards that follow.