The axiom, ‘The customer comes first’ is not new to business. Whether you sell a physical product through a brick and mortar store or something virtually, at the end of the day it’s your customers that will decide whether your business succeeds or not.
What customer experience design (or CX for short, also referred to user experience or UX) does is bring this thinking to the front of your organization. To me, customer experience can be defined has how customers think and feel about a something, and CX design is what we do to ensure that how they think and feel is as enjoyable as possible. Happy customers ultimately mean more sales, which I believe is something all for-profit businesses seek.
While customer experience is by no means limited to what can be found online, the proliferation of digital communication drives a lot of modern CX design to the digital space. This however does not mean that CX = UI. It’s part of a much larger conversation, but suffice to say that user interface is but one small piece of customer experience.
Why CX design
Why does your organization need CX design? Because your competition is integrating it and producing better products that attract more customers—and each time they do so, they’re getting better at it.
CX design, while potentially new to your organization, has actually been around for many years. Starting as Human-Computer Interaction (or HCI—the study of how people interact with computers) in the 1970s and evolving from there, the concept of designing products with consumers in mind has existed for decades.
And more importantly CX design is not just touchy-feely—it is a science, backed by powerful tools that provide quantitative and qualitative results you can use to measure the success of what you’re producing. CX design is the process of creating, testing, adjusting, testing and adjusting again, ad infinitum—always with the goal of creating a better product—a better experience. Facebook is one example of understanding and utilizing the importance of UX testing—transforming their mobile app through repeated, real-world testing.
According to Forrester, 72% of businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority and CX improvements drive revenue growth through increased loyalty. Successful organizations adapt CX design because it works. It’s not just some touchy-feely pseudo-science, it's a measurable, actionable, formalized process that produces results. Airbnb is a classic example of this, focusing on the CX of its website and earning a 353-fold increase in the number of stays in just five years.
How to integrate it
Over the course of three articles, through the experience of working more than 12 years as a CX Specialist in both North America and Japan I will highlight three key areas your business needs to work on to become an CX-friendly, customer-driven environment. They are:
- A willingness to learn and change.
- Belief in and support of CX as a specialization.
- Integration of UX Design from the beginning.
To get the most out of the series I recommend you read each article in full with as open a mind as possible. By the end of the series if nothing else I believe you will have changed your basic perception toward CX design.
Without further delay, let’s jump into Part 1: A willingness to learn and change.
Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of companies size-wise—with local offices of just over ten individuals through to organizations of several thousand.
From experience, the longer an organization has existed, and the more employees it has, the more difficult it is to change in terms of its mindset towards CX. Of course the two statements above can apply to change in any area of an organization, however CX, as it remains relatively unknown to many, tends to receive more opposition.
If you are just starting out now is the perfect time to give birth to and grow a customer-first mentality from the beginning. But if you are well established and would like to integrate CX in order to produce better products for shoppers now and have better results that ultimately drive higher profits, you first need to integrate CX Design into your organization—by being willing to, and wanting to learn.
Change in your company won’t happen overnight—I appreciate that. The good news is you’ve already taken the first step—by reading this article.
Jeremy Thomson is UX Director at Geometry Global Japan