It seems like only yesterday that every business claimed the key to winning customers was in the quality of the product or service they deliver. But now, customer experience is not just a nice to have, it’s a necessity.
Customer expectations are continually evolving. A customer’s last best experience is now their new baseline expectation. In addition, social media has put the megaphone in customers’ hands, allowing them to tell the story of their experience of your brand. This far-reaching and easy way for customers to communicate experiences means companies can’t afford to ignore the customer experience. Yet they are often unaware of what the customer really thinks.
Customers overwhelmingly show appreciation for great service with their wallets and would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience. People want this level of engagement from the companies with which they do business – even the best of what formerly passed for good is no longer enough.
“It’s very logical: There is proven ROI in doing whatever you can to turn your customers into advocates for your brand or business. The way to create advocates is to offer superior levels of service.” - Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy.
So the question has to be asked, when the need to delight customers with data-driven, personalised experiences is so apparent, why is everyone not already doing it? In my experience most organisations are, but they just aren’t doing it well.
One question I am often asked is “where do we start?”. Should we focus on the ‘sexy’ design or the ‘functional’ when it comes to designing user experiences? I have always found this a very interesting question and my answer is always the same; neither – you focus on the customer!
Functionality is always going to be a critical component of an application, yet the laws of design state that the more functionality you build in, the less functional the experience will become. Simply put, the more it can do, the less specific the experience is
According to a study conducted by SAP, 78% of mobile apps are abandoned after their first use.
The days of the functionality-first approach are (or should be) long gone. We used to put functionality first, ahead of user experience. Once we had designed an application to do what it needed to, we would only then think about the people using it and offer training. Today, this is a recipe for disaster. If the user experience is not intuitive, engaging and enriching, they will simply opt out.
Faced with this knowledge, it is also important not to over-rotate towards design. Whilst it is possible to create a beautiful, mapped customer experience and digital touch points, beauty is only skin deep. If your customer experience is not meaningful, functional and, ultimately, useful, then your investment will once again fail.
Developing a customer experience architecture isn’t rocket science, but the starting point must always be the customer. The sweet-spot that you are aiming for is the subtle balance between design and functionality. Tie this to meaningful data insights, your core systems of records, and ingrain it in your operational processes, and you will have the recipe that you need to delight your customers.
Remember, as the old adage goes, user experience is like a joke – if you have to explain it, then it’s just not working!