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The Four Fundamentals of CX

We can all relate to that awful shopping or flight experience. You know, the one that makes you want to tell all your friends and vent your frustrations on every possible social media platform. But we also know how remarkable it is when a brand just gets it right and makes you feel like YOU are the centre of the experience. Well, that’s because you are… 

There has been a lot of buzz around Customer Experience (CX) Design. And it’s very noticeable when brands excel at it. But where do we start?

I’m going to take you through (my take on) The Four Fundamentals of CX Design. These have made all the difference in our projects and hopefully they will for you too.

When adopting a Customer Experience Design mindset the following is key:

1. Humans at the centre

At the heart of CX design is the dedication, curiosity and passion required to fully understand human needs, expectations and pain points. It’s critical to sincerely empathise with the people you desire to serve. Second, but equally important, is the need to understand their different roles (or personas, such as single parent, business traveller, temporary employee, etc.) and their ultimate ‘job-to-be-done’ when it comes to interacting with your product or service. 

Traditionally agencies have fallen into the trap of starting with technology and driving that agenda. However, to be truly human-centred you need to start from the customer’s perspective, and ensure that those you’re designing for are included in the process. Then, let the outcome of that dictate the technology choices. We need to always be asking ourselves, “what technology is going to enable the ideal customer journey?”, not “how can we design a journey around a cool piece of tech?”

2. Co-create & collaborate

It’s key to have representation across all layers of the business from the outset of the design process. When you only have the top layer of management in the room, the risk is that all the blue sky thinking (that generally results in a shiny new journey) means nothing to the employees responsible for actioning it. That’s because they have no real connection to it, and certainly no sense of ownership. They often don’t get the vision or understand the ‘why’ behind the changes, and this can result in a lot of wasted time, effort and energy. 

When involving stakeholders across all levels in the design process, you get not only a much richer output, but a sense of co-ownership fostered by co-creation. There’s no better feeling for employees than to see their collective ideas woven together to create a meaningful experience for them, and the customers they serve.

3. Think horizontal, vertical & holistic

Great CX design will touch and influence almost every part of your business. And it needs to. It goes wide to understand and surface all the touch-points of the service model, both internally (with employees) and externally (for customers). It digs deep to connect the vertical dots and align the business organisationally, across all layers and functions. It’s within this holistic approach to innovation that the power lies – not to mention the pain. By fully committing to the initiative, you won’t leave the process unchanged and your organisation will hopefully transform its employees’ experience and delight the socks off its customers.

4. Experiment, prototype & iterate

We’re never going to get it right the first time, and that’s ok. In fact, it’s actually quite liberating as it creates space to play, test, refine, and repeat*. So put your inner critic away, give yourself whole-heartedly, trust the process and the magic will emerge! Then test it, as much as you can possibly squeeze out of the time and budget available. “The best solutions are the result of experimentation, trial, failure and learning”.What’s great about this approach is that it drastically decreases the risk of the initial investment, and hugely increases the likelihood of adoption. 

In closing… we are well and truly in the age of the ‘Experience Economy’. This is the idea that products and services can outcompete by creating an experience that customers value. In an economy where many products and services have become a commodity, experience is a valuable competitive advantage. I believe that to be relevant as a brand going into the next decade, a well-crafted and intentional CX initiative is the most valuable competitive advantage.

* I never understood the value of this until I did the classic ‘Design a Wallet Challenge’, and now I wouldn’t start a CX initiative without the Design Thinking methodology.