Customers Want Great Experiences

We’ve been hearing plenty about customer experience design recently.  It’s a hot topic at universities, companies and in many online groups.  This is rather exciting to us, because we’ve been doing customer experience design for over 20 years.

In my last post, I described how customers make decisions.  In simple terms, it’s based on the experiences they expect to receive and the positive (or negative) value of those experiences.  Customers do look at features, of course, but they do so to prove to themselves that they will get the experiences you promise.  Customers also have experiences independent of product/service features, such as their discovery and purchasing experience, or customer support.  All of these experiences, whether planned by you or not, differentiate your company from the competition, either positively or negatively.   All of them affect the decisions your customers make.

Given that backdrop, it behooves companies to consciously build your business around the experiences most valued by your customers. First, focus efforts on understanding the experiences that customers would value and how they would prioritize those experiences, then build products, services and go to market plans in service of those experiences.  Doing so is central to our techniques and generates unique insights.

To many, this may sound completely backwards.  Too many companies build their products and services first.  Then as a marketing afterthought, they develop the hopefully compelling reasons that customers should buy. Theirs is what we control systems folks call an open loop process. There’s little or no feedback to point everybody in a single direction that is compelling to customers – no True North to help internal people make the inevitable tough trade-offs.

Customer Experience Design includes discovering what experiences customers value most highly, then examining your competition, your own capabilities and major changes in your market to decide which experiences you can profitably deliver and why those will win customers’ preference. Our open-ended conversations with customers, partners, service providers and other influencers can create true magic when we explore their lives and discover answers to questions you never thought to ask. These are often the deep insights that drive real innovation for you – unique experiences that will delight your customers. Contrast this with other forms of research, which are great at quantifying known issues or getting feedback on existing concepts but far less useful for disruptive insight. Our client-tested customer experience design process can be found in our methodology description.