Customer Experience Design
What is Customer Experience Design?
Customer experience (CX) design is the process design teams follow to optimize customer experiences at all touchpoints before, during and after conversion. They leverage customer-centered strategies to delight customers at each step of the conversion journey and nurture strong customer-brand relationships.
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”
— Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple & user experience guru
CX Design is about Building Strong Bridges between Customers and Brands
A common misconception is that CX design is user experience (UX) design. While both are concerned with the overall experience of using a product or service, CX design refers to a further dimension. When an organization focuses on CX design, it usually wants to optimize the experience users have in interacting with it as a brand. This experience is a journey that includes many touchpoints, from initial awareness and research to conversion and retention. When your design team works in CX design, you must optimize those touchpoints so that customers perceive the brand more favorably and the brand distinguishes itself as customer-centered. That’s why organizations must focus on areas such as advertising campaigns, customer service and consistency and adopt a customer-centric viewpoint. A brand may have a superior product but still fail if it doesn’t reach users at their various stages of encountering it.
Make sure your CX Design revolves around the Customers
Customers develop their perceptions of products and services across many touchpoints and channels. Think of a brand you’ve engaged with. How many ways can you encounter it? How did you discover it? How do you feel about it? There are many factors behind how customers make contact with brands and perceive them over time. These vary from person to person. For instance, a brand that releases an app which helps people buy train tickets can reach many types of customers through various types of advertising. Some of these commuters, tourists and casual local users will buy their tickets in advance, others in a rush. What about their phones’ signal strength? How easily might they get confused in their context? With CX design, a brand reaches deep into customers’ minds across many situations. So, organizations influence CX, but can’t control it directly. That’s why brands need a strategy on how to engage customers to make them feel highly valued. To do that, you have to meet or exceed their needs consistently. You must acknowledge that customers are informed individuals. In several clicks, they’ll do extensive research. You should anticipate their mindset/needs/desires in a variety of contexts. You should also appreciate:
- What customers spend depends on their impression and experience of a brand. They can leave and seek a competitor at any touchpoint, and leave bad feedback.
- Customers should feel in control of their own relationship with a brand. This is the all-important sense of agency where customers feel they’re part of a conversation with a brand—i.e., that the brand speaks to them, cares about what they care about and has tailored solutions just for them. Here, you should understand a major pitfall to avoid: Regardless of the transaction-based reality of the brand-customer relationship, if customers feel your brand is just selling them something, they will lose not only that sense of agency but also trust.
- The right level of intimacy in the customer experience depends on the brand/industry. Customers seek solutions to various human problems – what’s appropriate in some contexts (e.g., personalized marketing) isn’t in others. When you consider how your brand fits in customers’ day-to-day lives, decide where they might perceive involvement as interference.
- CX design is measurable (e.g., via satisfaction reports) but also subjective. Customers’ situations will vary as widely as their idiosyncrasies, and that means a potentially enormous range of opinions about how well they perceive your brand seems to care about them—and how your brand’s values match what they care about as consumers. Customer journey maps can help you examine customer touchpoints, understand a brand’s CX and expose gaps. The dynamics between customers and brands vary according to the type of organization, product, etc. and length of journey involved. They can be intricate.
When you do CX design well, your organization can build or maintain a strong brand presence because customers feel involved, enabled and (above all) valued. So, always look on customers as discriminating individuals who demand exceptional experiences, not groups of loyal consumers on the other end of a transaction.
Learn More about Customer Experience Design
The Interaction Design Foundation offers courses examining what goes into delivering brand promises consistently and impressively to customers: https://www.interaction-design.org/courses/user-research-methods-and-best-practices and https://www.interaction-design.org/courses/emotional-design-how-to-make-products-people-will-love
UX Magazine discusses the growing relevance of CX design: https://uxmag.com/articles/customer-experience-is-the-future-of-design
This insightful blog addresses CX design’s far-reaching scope (including tips): https://blog.hubspot.com/service/customer-experience-design
Literature on Customer Experience Design
Here’s the entire UX literature on Customer Experience Design by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:
Learn more about Customer Experience Design
Take a deep dive into Customer Experience Design with our course User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide .
User experience, or UX, has been a buzzword since about 2005, and according to tech research firm Gartner, the focus on digital experience is no longer limited to digital-born companies anymore. Chances are, you’ve heard of the term, or even have it on your portfolio. But, like most of us, there’s also a good chance that you sometimes feel unsure of what the term “user experience” actually covers.
[User experience] is used by people to say, ‘I’m a user experience designer, I design websites’, or ‘I design apps.’ […] and they think the experience is that simple device, the website, or the app, or who knows what. No! It’s everything—it’s the way you experience the world, it’s the way you experience your life, it’s the way you experience the service. Or, yeah, an app or a computer system. But it’s a system that’s everything.”
— Don Norman, pioneer and inventor of the term “user experience”, in an interview with NNGroup
As indicated by Don Norman, User Experience is an umbrella term that covers a number of different areas. When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to have a good understanding of what those areas are so that you know what tools are available to you.
Throughout this course, you will gain a thorough understanding of the various design principles that come together to create a user’s experience when using a product or service. As you proceed, you’ll learn the value user experience design brings to a project, and what areas you must consider when you want to design great user experiences. Because user experience is an evolving term, we can’t give you a definition of ‘user experience’ to end all discussions, but we will provide you with a solid understanding of the different aspects of user experience, so it becomes clear in your mind what is involved in creating great UX designs.
If you are new to the Interaction Design Foundation, this course is a great place to start because it brings together materials from many of our other courses. This provides you with both an excellent introduction to user experience and with a preview of the courses we have to offer to help you develop your future career. After each lesson, we will introduce you to the courses you can take if a specific topic has caught your attention. That way, you’ll find it easy to continue your learning journey.
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