Our latest POV on how customer experience drives everything from concept and creative to design and technology

Designing for People: User Experience, Service Design, and the NEW Customer Experience

The Trend in Needing Design Capabilities

The acquisition of experience design firm Adaptive Path by Capital One created quite a stir in the design community, much like the acquisition of Fjord design by consulting firm Accenture or Deloitte’s purchase of Ubermind. But what are these acquisitions all about? Why are companies racing to embrace experience design?

The reason is survival. In a world where the lines between physical and digital, and people and technology, are rapidly burring, it has become more and more difficult for brands to make the grade in the eyes of increasingly empowered and demanding consumers. As technology is converging to create a new kind of customer, smart companies are realizing that their business processes and design disciplines must also converge in order to create a new kind of enterprise that can deliver a new kind of customer experience.

‘To be successful, this new customer experience must embrace many disciplines of design thinking and put people at the heart of the business’.

Not So Strange Bedfellows

This brave new world is forcing together many formerly divergent roles and groups in shared vision and teaming on crafting a new holistic customer experience. It’s also creating a lot of discussion about the differences and overlaps in experience design disciplines.

As outlined in his “Experience Design Primer” article on CMS Wire, MQ alumnus Stephen Fishman provides his perspective on several humanist design movements in customer experience (CX), user experience (UX), service design (SD), and development operations (DevOps). All of these disciplines have the goal of understanding the needs of people, and crafting better experiences for them—customers, users, employees, developers, etc.

Yet even as we mature, differentiate, and define these experience design disciplines, they are converging by necessity. We’re not all so far apart as our roles and labels would have us think. Customer experience has largely been the bastion of the marketing department and physical customer service call centers. Focus groups, customer feedback surveys, NPS surveys and scores, and customer satisfaction surveys are common tools used for understanding people and their consumer behaviors.

User experience has grown up largely digital, often in the realm of IT and software development, and focuses on understanding what makes great engagement with systems and interfaces. While UX also uses surveys and analytics, it relies primarily on direct, in-person qualitative research techniques, like observation and contextual inquiry, interviews, usability testing, and card-sorting. Service design came to us from the management of service organizations, and is largely concerned with intangible emotional journeys and human interactions with people, places, and things.

Similar to UX, SD relies on in-person research and ethnography for customer insights. Common techniques also include customer journey mapping, service blueprint design, body storming (physical re-creations of proposed environmental designs), and role-playing.

At the heart of these disciplines is understanding people from their own point of view, and using those insights to design experiences they will enjoy. It makes sense that differing contexts required and created differing tools, techniques, and nomenclatures. Digital experiences will require UX techniques but will follow the same principles of creating better experiences for people as SD would when applying their techniques to a physical situation. And as the worlds of digital and physical grow closer together, we borrow from each other’s toolsets more and more.

If you look at customer experience as an ecosystem, you will almost certainly have some digital UX touchpoints to design. You will need to orchestrate these touchpoints, both digital and physical, and should take advantage of customer journey mapping or other SD techniques. SD also helps look at the behind-the-scenes business processes driving customer service experiences. This is another area where CX, UX, and SD are converging, as companies realize the employee experience is a huge part of the customer experience.

New thinking about Enterprise UX and Digital Business are emerging that realize employees are people who also need better technology experiences and business processes in order to deliver great customer experiences. Then the context becomes about customers, employees, processes, systems, data, metrics, technology, and touchpoints—all of which need to be orchestrated, requiring many tools from many disciplines, including CEM/CX, UX, Enterprise UX, SD, DevOps, and management consulting.

This is the new realm of customer experience—a synthesis of many humanist movements that put people first in creating better business, better technology, better customer experiences, and better bottom lines. Successful brands of the future will make these choices now. The others will be struggling or long gone.

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