“We need to put the customer at the heart of our business”". It’s hard to go a day without hearing a similar refrain from the latest business leader, now born-again customer champion.
In executive boardrooms around the world, customer centricity is being held up as the antidote to the current economic malaise. It’s how the banks are trying to recover from the collapse in consumer trust in the wake of mis-selling scandals and calamitous risking taking. It’s how consumer electronics companies are healing the near fatal wounds suffered at the hands of Apple and Samsung. It’s how retailers are reconfiguring themselves for the always on, always connected mobile customer.
Clearly it’s much easier said than done. To move beyond rhetoric typically requires big changes, transformation even, in the way that organisations view, conceive of and measure customer interactions and overall experience. This is not a trivial task.
“In an era of Digital Darwinism, no business is too big to fail or too small to succeed.” Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter Group
As consumers have become more and more digitally enabled and connected, expectations of customer experience are forever increasing. The inability for many large organisations to keep up has created a highly transparent experience gap and consumers are voting with both their smartphones and their feet.
“So this is a matter of survival. Why aren’t we adapting?”
Firstly, the proliferation of organisational silos often results in poor alignment of business units and teams who all have a hand in creating a unified experience. The absence of shared vision and targets for experience can result in duplication and even counter-productive initiatives.
Secondly, as digital technology becomes more and more central to the customer experience, legacy systems and processes mean that many companies are effectively allowing the technology and their technology teams to control their primary customer interactions. Often at the expense of the customer and ultimately their own business outcomes.
Having a clear vision and roadmap for aligning and redesigning your customer touch points and overall experience to meet both the business and customers’ needs is critical to achieving customer centred transformation. It should paint a clear picture of where you are now, where you want to get to and how you’ll know you’re on track in redesigning and delivering your customer experience. We call this a user experience (UX) strategy.
So a UX strategy is: a long-term plan to align every customer touch point with your vision for user experience, and achieve a measurable increase in commercial yield.
The four elements of UX strategy
- A clear picture of the current customer reality: a deep understanding of the customer across all touch points and UX moments of truth, where and when they happen and the impact on the customer and the business.
- A shared vision for the future and experience principles: having UX vision and principles is the most critical element of this process because it’s about giving everyone in the organisation – from the CEO to frontline staff – a clear picture of the target experience, business and customer outcomes and win/win behaviours.
- A UX roadmap: creating a plan for how to get to your vision from where you are today that balances the priorities of the customer with the principles and capabilities of the organisation – what we call the win/win. A good roadmap is an aspirational and credible plan for the whole team for transforming the frontline experience with the customer.
- A measurement and incentive framework: it’s critically important that the measurement of user experience is embedded into the day-to-day activities of an organisation. There are many great visions sitting within companies that will never see the light of day come to fruition because the organisation measured, and therefore, focussed on the wrong things.
Start creating your UX strategy today
While some organisations are responding to the customer centricity challenge by creating C-level roles (“Chief Customer Officer, anyone?”) the people who are actually closest to the answers for what is going to make the most difference to customers, are staff at the frontline – marketing, customer services, ecommerce. It is from here that the foundations for UX strategy can be built.
In many organisations the opportunity does exist for user experience advocates to drive business transformation. You might be the centre of your businesses organisational transformation.
Classic behaviours of organisations without a UX strategy
- Opinion-driven decision making around what’s important to customers and how to solve their problems.
- Inability to articulate what the business is trying to do for customers now and in the future.
- Poor visibility and alignment of experience initiatives across the customer lifecycle.
- Too much focus on fire fighting today’s problems, short-terminism in decision making affecting the customer experience.
- Many ideas but no action.
- Many actions but no measurable improvement.
- Failure to tackle big customer problems when it crosses organisational silos.
- Jumping on the latest trend/technology without a clear view of how it will improve the. customer experience and integrate with existing channels.
Originally published in The Drum UX supplement