How Your Organization Can Optimize Its Experience Design

As a customer-centric brand, it's easy to get focused on one part of the customer journey. However, it's become increasingly important for brands to look at all the ways to leverage products and service within the overall customer experience to engage and retain customers. Learn what experience design is, why it's important and how you can best leverage it at your organization.

What is Experience Design?

Experience design encompasses the entire customer journey, extending beyond the time of purchase. It's about creating products, processes, services, events, omnichannel journeys, and environments with the focus solely placed on the quality of the user experience.

In a UX Magazine article, Experience Design author Patrick Newbery said it best: "To ensure the feasibility of a business, customers must remain engaged, and this requires thinking across all stages of the relationship and looking for ways to add or increase value." It's important to design an experience for greater customer engagement and retention for a couple reasons:

  • An engaged customer is worth more than a loyal customer. A Rosetta study found that engaged customers buy 90 percent more frequently and spend 60 percent more per transaction.
  • It's more lucrative to retain customers than it is to acquire new ones. According to an Invesp survey, existing customers are 50 percent more likely to try new products and spend 31 percent more when compared to new customers.

Customer engagement and retention comes from meeting or exceeding expectations and delivering consistent customer experiences. To stay relevant in an ever-changing landscape, brands will need to look for opportunities to improve their overall customer experience through experience design.

How to Begin the Design Process

In order to provide exceptional experiences, it's important to understand your customers and how they interact with your brand. Here are a few ways you can begin the design process.

Journey Map

Your customer experience needs to be consistent from start to finish, and everywhere in between. A good starting point is to map out the customer journey, identifying all the touchpoints, or moments when a customer comes in contact with your brand.

The customer journey starts way before a customer enters your store or visits your website. The first touchpoint, for example, could be a customer seeing an advertisement, reading a blog post, or receiving a promotional email, which sparked an interest in your brand, products, and services. What did your customer do next?

Journey maps show the sequence of events experienced by a customer, extending even after the purchase or service experience.

Customer Personas

Who is your customer? It's important for brands to tailor the experience design to their target audience to best engage and meet expectations. For example, a college student is going to have different expectations and perspective than a family with young children.

Create personas, or profiles, of your customers to design a more focused experience. Think, "How will the college student with a tight budget pay for your product?" Or, "How will the parents feel standing in line for an extended period of time while juggling a baby and a toddler?" These fictional personas can help brands identify areas of opportunity within the experience design.

Market Research

Experience design is about meeting or exceeding expectations and improving customer experiences. There are a few tools brands can use to gather feedback and measure customer experiences.

Voice of customer programs like surveys and interviews allow brands to go directly to the source to understand how customers subjectively think and feel about your brand. Additionally, mystery shopping offers a way brands can gather objective feedback to measure customer experience and test different areas within your experience design.

Lastly, don't forget about competitor evaluations. It's important for brands to know what they're up against in terms of pricing, products, and customer experience. Competitor evaluations can serve as great benchmarks, while also helping your brand identify its unique characteristics. When designing your customer experience, it's important to understand which aspects of your brand offer your customers something they can't get anywhere else.

Using Experience Design to Improve Customer Experience

In an era where the customer relationship spans numerous channels, functions, and experiences, Wired says that "customers often wind up dealing with a headless beast of experiences with inefficient communication."

Technological advances, including the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots are rapidly changing the way customers experience brands. If you want to improve your customer experience, then you'll need to understand how best to leverage technology at your organization.

Internet of Things

Brands are increasingly creating automated worlds for customers through the Internet of Things (IoT). From smart devices to wearable technology, Gartner predicts that by 2021, the number of connected devices will hit 25 billion.

Disney's MagicBands, are a great example of how the IoT can enhance the customer experience. These wearable bracelets allow visitors to travel lighter by using it to enter the park, unlock their hotel room, and buy food and merchandise. Carnival Cruises, similarly, has a wearable medallion that not only has the passenger's name engraved on it, but can also access their data stored in the cloud, such as their photo, room number, and passport information. Using the medallion enhances the cruise line's experience by allowing passengers to do things with ease, such as boarding quickly and ordering drinks from anywhere on the ship.

Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality

AR and VR have the power to positively impact a brand's customer experience through personalization. According to a Retail Perceptions report, 61 percent of shoppers prefer to shop at stores that offer AR over ones that don't.

AR has both online and in-store applications. Sephora's app, for example, allows customers to virtually "try on" anything from lipstick to eyelashes before purchasing, while American Apparel shoppers can scan in-store signage with a mobile app to pull up product details, customer reviews, color variants, and pricing.

Machine Learning

More brands are leveraging the predictive nature of machine learning to personalize the customer experience, increase sales, and provide better customer service.

Amazon is the obvious example, as their machine learning algorithms work so well that over half of their sales are driven by their product recommendations. But machine learning has additional capabilities like facial recognition. Walmart, for example, is leveraging facial recognition to determine the level of frustration of customers at self-checkouts and alert customer service representatives when they need to attend to a frustrated customer.

AI Chatbots

AI chatbots are changing the game for sales, marketing, customer service, and more, with over 300,000 chatbots active on Facebook Messenger alone. For example, Amtrak travelers can talk directly to "Julie," the train's customer service bot 24/7, instead of waiting for customer service reps to respond to emails or being put on long hold times over the phone. By using an AI chatbot on its site, Amtrak saved $1 million in customer service expenses in a single year being able to answer over 5 million questions. The bot even increased revenue by 30 percent through automated bookings.

In addition to being faster, chatbots have higher open and click-through rates compared to email and can help send more personalized and gamified content and messages to customers. Call of Duty, for example, used chatbots as part of its experience design prior to launching their new game. The video game makers created interactive adventures told through Facebook Messenger that built up the wider narrative of the game. As a result, over 6 million messages were received in the first 24 hours of the campaign, which greatly boosted sales upon its release.

Validate Your Experience Design

In all the ways your customers interact with your brand—whether it's in-person, online, through a connected device, or via social media—it's important to create a consistent and engaging experience.

Customer experience evaluations offer the most objective way to validate your experience design. IntelliShop's solutions will evaluate your customer experience by providing objective feedback through mystery shopping and customer listening through voice of customer programs to provide a holistic picture of your customer experience and provide guidance for improving your experience design.

Contact IntelliShop today to request a quote and see how we can help your organization best leverage experience design.

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