Technology is woven into the fabric of our lives. From the moment we wake until the time we hit the bed, it is an intricate part of how we experience life itself. We love technology because it helps in simplifying tasks – from accessing information to automating experience. However complex or run-of-the-mill an activity may otherwise be, it drastically reduces the amount of time we spend on them. In some sense, it enables us to do things that we may not be able to ourselves.
More importantly, technology has always thrived on our growing capacity to constantly seek improvements in experience; the way we consume data, how we interpret it, and the speed at which we perform actions based on our derivations. Expectedly, businesses all over the world have been innovating and capitalizing on this primal human urge for easier, faster and better solutions. In order to fine-tune or upgrade the experience they provide to their customers, businesses find themselves perennially jogging on a treadmill of innovation. Now more than ever, they look to break free from the limitations of legacy systems, and redefine experience design – from understanding what their customers want to how they are providing it.
Senior UX designer, Tom Wood, summarizes thusly:
“Experience Design is a method by which we can improve the quality of the outcome for the user while working within resource constraints. It’s gaining attention at the moment because it’s becoming more widely accepted that if we can improve outcomes for customers, we can improve outcomes for business”
However, it can be said that most experiences are subjective because human perception is an evolving process that is based on individualistic traits. Hence, designing a great experience does not always comprise a series of executable tasks. There are no clear-cut templates for businesses to follow. Experience design is a way of thinking. As much a philosophy as it is a science.
So, how do business go about designing suitable experiences? Do they adopt a one-size-fits-all methodology? Or do they cast a large net of experiences so that they can cater to a wider group of customers looking to bite?
“Customer experience designers can define experiences that extend beyond the purchase of a product or service. A good purchase experience, or even user experience, doesn’t guarantee future business. To ensure feasibility of a business, customers must remain engaged, and this requires thinking across all stages of the relationship”
Industry Expert & Author, Patrick Newberry
The crux of Experience Design lies in identifying what we sell as value distributors and treating our customers as value ambassadors. Customers are more than just users. The journeys they undertake, as consumers of your brand, go beyond the destination that either of you have in mind. It is a framework for continuous value generation, acceptance and distribution because a great design implies a proactive approach to identifying and fixing gaps between what customers want, and how a business provides it to them.
Given the inundation of Big Data and Analytics into the CX ecosystem, there is enough information out there to leverage in order to create true value for customers. In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, being proactive is not a luxury. It is crucial towards the survival, not just success, of the brand. Artificial Intelligence too, is playing a key role in urging businesses to redefine Experience Design along with rising customer expectations. Advancements such as Smart Assistants, Augmented and Virtual Reality are automating experiences and reshaping how customers attain end satisfaction. These days, they want to be more empowered with the ability to craft their own experiences. And they expect brands to give them the necessary tools to achieve what they perceive to be a comfortable and satisfying service journey.
In fact, Gartner predicts:
“By 2020 a customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human”
Accenture says that:
“89% of customers get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives”
But, going back to Experience Design being a strategic guide rather than a structured rulebook, it does not mean that merely implementing effective self-service options or ensuring omni-channel consistency is a guarantee for profitability or even sustained customer acquisition. After all, a highly-attractive website, a super-responsive mobile app or some of the best trained agents that money can buy can get you far in the battle for customer experience. To win the whole shebang, though, businesses must take into account multiple factors that may affect the experience. Right from the pre-production blueprint stage to the post-purchase care stage, there are moving pieces that need to be influenced. Such changes should start reflecting in budgetary allocations, technology implementation, resource utilization and overall growth strategy.
After all, when the dust settles – all customers want are great experiences. Businesses succeed when they seek to constantly improve the experience without any prompt from the customer.
It is when they create competitive differentiation.
It is when they succeed.