How joined up Customer Experience (CEX) and thinking beyond digital can transform every step of your business.
Ah, there’s nothing like a good clickbait headline is there? Customer Experience is yet another exciting industry phrase (with a childishly amusing acronym), but sat alongside everything else we have to contend with – ‘User Experience’ (UX), ‘User Interface Design’ (UI), ‘Conversion Rate Optimisation’ (CRO) and a dozen other industry phrases covering the gamut of analysis-based system design.
So before I continue, let’s have a quick top-line refresher of what each of these jumbles of letters actually means (more detailed definitions can be found here).
User interface design (UI): The visual and interactive design consideration of discreet elements in a system, i.e. a form, a price slider, etc.
User experience (UX): The design of a user’s journey from entry to exit in a system, based on user research and analysis.
Customer experience (CEX / CX): The customer’s entire experience of the brand, their products and services, across all utilised channels (and even further).
The coverage could be vast and unwieldy so let’s break it down into two:
Online customer experience
If we consider the customer experience online, we can easily see that it extends further than just a journey on one site.
You also need to consider your user’s journey between devices – from discovery on a Facebook link clicked on the mobile app during a rushed lunch break, followed up the day after with a visit to the site on the iPad over the morning coffee, to a final purchase on the office laptop that afternoon. Or vice-versa.
The wider picture
A true customer experience extends further: offline > online > offline again.
It covers the full ecosystem of a user and their interaction with the brand (from the car you see in the street, to the ad you read in a magazine, to the online research you conduct, to the dealership you visit, to the final choice and purchase, to the after care, to the service arrangements via an online portal) and you have a relationship that could go on for the life of this car and the next 10 – IF you work it right.
- turns a prospect into a sale
- turns a sale into a re-sale
- turns a user into an advocate / evangelist – you create a vessel for recommendation: one of the most powerful marketing tools you can possess.
A perfectly realised user-centric online purchasing experience is for naught if the delivery is poor and the returns service a joke. Make the whole thing work and – most importantly – work together.
So how do we do it?
Joined-up customer experience requires a joined-up company. Specific user experience work by one group or agency within a company (such as the redesign of user flow on a website) can lead to insights and approaches that can be applied further afield.
The user research we might conduct in developing personas for a website redesign will likely reveal experiences, motivations and new requirements in users. This insight can be applied not only to website planning, but to all aspects of the company’s interaction with the user – in the store, in their marketing strategy, and in their aftersales processes.
It requires those of us working in digital to begin thinking outside the realms of our pixels and screens, and requires those working in ‘the real world’ to think about the digital domain as part of their plan. And for that to work we’re going to need to work together, to create a rounded strategy that allows the experience to continue seamlessly on and offline.
The user now and the future user
Centre your efforts on your existing users for sure, but don’t forget to consider those users yet to come. It sounds obvious, but so many times a redesign is conducted based only on research about how your current users act.
What about those you know should be users but aren’t? What’s stopping them? What can you do to make things better for them? (Without pissing off your existing clientèle of course!) And once you’ve made things better – how do you tell this new audience about it?
There’s no “If we build it they will come” in this industry – if they don’t know, they won’t go.
So it’s by no means a simple task: it takes collaboration, understanding, research, and plenty of lateral thinking – plus the will from a company’s various departments to work together, to change how they think and operate, and to create a truly effective, engaging and customer-centric experience that will increase conversions and create evangelists for your brand.