TELL ME YOUR SECRETS
Experience design allows organizations to think where, when and how they interact with their customers. Focused on creating seamless and consistent experiences throughout the entire customer journey.
The design process is framed around discovering what customers secrets are. What value are they after from engaging in a brand experience?
OBSERVATIONS ABOUT XD
Discussion points and examples about experience design.
1) IMAGE AS A BRAND
Are you ready to go beyond just image as a brand and create real customer value at the heart of the new brand experiences you create?
A user centered design process will be the framework to get through these questions, and provides the way to talk to customers. Remember a typical customer rarely has professionally trained eyes and observations to articulate brand and UX design. Their feedback is typically about their ability to achieve specific tasks, features, content and performance. They need to help so they can paint a picture about how they feel, what they want and what they might be considering from a competitive service.
2) GENERATE IDEAS QUICKLY
Do you really understand what the problem is? Have you analyzed the quantitative and qualitative data, and spoken to the relevant customers types (personas) to understand how they feel about the problem? Is your team convinced they know what the problem is and they have the solution to fix it?
Once you do understand the problem your next hurdle is time. There’s now less than time for a full process and creating prototypes to present new ideas is the way to go. An XD process requires an ideation and (UX) research phase to create as many unbiased ideas as necessary. Think of this as a quest to find your customer secrets. Don’t feel restrictive by channels – or make sure your team is thinking across across all channels and platforms. For example: How does a mobile app feature impact the dot com site, social strategy, or customer service? Creating prototypes and testing with your customers gets the answers to these questions.
Your quest to understanding the problem might require the need to pull in other (design) experts to think through a specific piece of it. That can be expensive so you need to manage the process and budget smartly.
Is listening to your customers part of the process?
If it’s possible I recommend hearing the customer’s feedback in the first person. It’s easier for you to connect the dots on the strengths and weaknesses of the entire customer journey. What you hear should stop you in your tracks and make you think. There are times when you’ll just hear the about the ugly stuff – and you’ll have no place to hide. That’s why you should do the listening so can work through what the real feedback is versus venting and frustration.
There’s no question the final product needs to be an amazing looking brand experience. But it can’t adsorb the majority of the design process or budget. I’ve seen this happen so often and it’s the most vital step in the process. Remember when it comes to customer value the end product’s visual look is only one piece of the story.
This is a tremendous opportunity for more for traditional companies to think like a digital first company. The best result is often a combination of old and new thinking around a problem. That’s news for many disruptive start-ups (Ref: Zero to One).
4) WHAT’S BEHIND AN IDEA?
“Experience design doesn’t replace brand strategy, but pushes beyond the traditional approach of defining brands. It advocates using the concept behind the brand as a way to identify and define value for customers in ways that can be differentiated in the way that products and services deliver value. And this becomes the purpose and intent of the business — to deliver products, services, and experiences that deliver the value that the brand represents, as a way of giving the brand meaning.”
Brand is the most important element and holds the emotional roots through the customer journey. When was the last time you or your team read the brand values and mission statement? Do they or have they ever transcended down into valuable experiences that serve customers?
In this mobile and social time it’s clear that the distance between a brand promise and a brand experience has shortened from one mile to an inch. You can’t afford to wait until the end of the design process to understand how they work.
XD assumes there are no silver bullets. It doesn’t matter who comes up with the ideas or the general vibe of how right it feels on the whiteboard. You take the ideas and through relentless testing and dialogue you can nail the necessary ‘value’ required by customers.
5) CUSTOMER VALUE
I recently worked with a PR agency in New York and we got to pitch Jet Blue for their corporate social responsibility PR and social work. They already had a framework within the organization for social good but it needed more exposure and new ways to get customers and staff involved. An example of the program: The Jet Blue staff build playgrounds in neighborhoods across the US, and pilots and staff have a program to visit schools to meet kids and tell them about what they do.
We developed a communications platform called Lift. We had several ways to activate our idea across the organization. My role was to focus on digital activation. Luckily I’ve been a Jet Blue customer for years and I’ve grown to know the brand very well. I created surveys, customer interviews and researched how their brand was being experienced across social on their dot com. My intention was to create a valuable brand experience versus a shiny object for a pitch.
Discovering and activating the customer value.
The prime time for an airline to offer value to their customers is when they’re experiencing the brand – not in an airport or when purchasing a ticket. Consider the full consumer journey – I concluded our best opportunity was when a customer is actually on the plane on route to their destination. This is the moment where the brand owns the full customer experience.
The idea was to present passengers with a new form of socially conscious rewards (aligned with the full rewards program). Passengers would download an app or use tablets provided by staff to earn ‘good’ points toward their loyalty program. The app was has several different tools for them to help participate in Jet Blue’s social initiatives. For example: Create your own personal pleas across your favorite social channels to promote the cause to get a playground built in a specific neighborhood. Hear people’s pitch, vote on your favorites, help fund-raise, create a blog post or use a blank canvas to tell us how you can help.
Customer value: The research had shown that many customers really liked the idea of donating time toward a charitable cause. Jet Blue was providing the opportunity to do that. The framework for this idea also demonstrated how Jet Blue valued a percentage of customers participating in a cause over a pay per view movie ($).
6) WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?
I’ve been working with a few startups recently and with one specific company I’m responsible for creating their new brand. I’m taking this on because I’d like to understand the relationship between XD and the brand values and mission of the company. I’ll come back to this point again and let you know how I get on.
During my research I’ve been reviewing many new services and spoken to colleagues who work at start-ups. As my team and I attempt to figure out our project I’ve realized that many start-ups have yet to figure out how to present their brand into a clear customer proposition. I realize these are new companies that are using latest technologies to change a category, but it’s not clear what the customer value is, and the communication doesn’t feel like it’s been thought through.
7) What is Strategy?
“Strategy is about uncovering the key challenges in a situation and devising a way of coordinating effort to overcome them for a desired outcome. It’s an interlocking set of choices that aligns activity and shows causality: if we do this, then we expect to see that.”
8) MY GOAL IS TO CREATE FANDOM
“I think that people don’t realize that, fundamentally, we’re focused on learning animals or generalists as opposed to specialists. And the main reason is that when you’re in a dynamic industry where the conditions are changing so fast, then things like experience and the way you’ve done a role before isn’t nearly as important as your ability to think.”
We pledge support for an athlete or sports team for a variety of different reasons. For some it’s a real bond and emotional connection that’s made for life. Without quivering we commit to the highs and lows of a team’s performance with an unbreakable connection. Why is that connection exclusive to only sports? Customers can become can become fan’s of brands. XD needs a ringleader (That’s me). Someone who has a broad spectrum of skills and experiences across design disciplines, projects, brands and life experiences.
It often requires many different design and branding experts to work together to create a compelling and unified customer journey. It’s can be a ($$$) feat to pull that off which is why the ringleader needs to own the strategy to pull the experience together.
HEADER ART: REBECCA KANE MIDNIGHT GARDEN