The product itself is not the only deciding factor in consumer purchases. Product design matters, of course, but where it is displayed and how it is consumed are crucial parts of the equation too.
Customers do not decide to buy simply because a product is good but because the overall experience works
But first of all, what is an experience? An experience inevitably involves expectations. Customer experience, or CX as it is known, is the result of comparing a customer’s actual experience with what they expected.
So the scenario is subjective, emotional and complex. Purchase decisions are too because they are not necessarily linked to a specific moment but a cluster of moments.
CX is the outcome of the customer’s impressions after interacting logically, physically, emotionally and/or psychologically at different times with different aspects of the company or brand
Customer experience: nine key design factors
The best experiences are those that have benefits on two fronts: satisfaction for customers and profits for the company. Here are nine tips that Rosalía Larrey and Gemma Martín have analyzed in depth during the informative presentation for their online programme in Customer Experience Management.
1. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes
Customers are not all the same and don’t get excited about the same things. So start by putting yourself in their shoes.
After studying them you’ll understand their expectations and frustrations better and know exactly who you are designing the experience for.
When deciding who your main target market is, it’s essential to consider specific customer journeys for each type of customer. Here are two examples of pinpointing a target market successfully.
The design of this company’s point of sale and online store are examples of best CX practice. The participative, fun, inspiring experience they offer is designed for a specific target: women aged 25-35 crazy about cosmetics.
To shop in this unstaffed store, customers use an app that helps them compare alternatives, choose products and self check out. This experience makes for easier, more efficient, faster shopping. This is a good example of an experience that is unsatisfactory for some customers but perfect for the target market of Saturn Express: impatient young shoppers familiar with the product and not willing to waste time in the shop.
2. Find out what they love and hate
Once the target market of the experience is clear, find out more about it. Have you ever heard of gains and pains? This is the phase where you’ll find out what customers love and hate.
3. Link up the online and face-to-face experiences
Once you get started, ‘multi-channel’ is the marketing buzzword. When making queries and shopping, customers don’t differentiate between channels. They expect to be able to get in touch at different times using different devices, so the experience on all channels must be satisfactory.
4. Think about before and after
The experience is the sum of several points of contact and moments when the customer interacts with the brand. But everything that happens before and after the sale tends to be overlooked. Customer-brand interaction does in fact plummet after leaving the store – and as a result, customer ratings too.
5. Make costs and efforts a priority
Constantly creating marvellous experiences requires vast amounts of resources so it’s important to pinpoint the main moments of interaction and focus on them whilst taking two variables into account: the importance for customers and the importance for the brand.
The importance for customers depends on their wants, loves and hates. What can you do for them to make them feel better? The importance for the brand, on the other hand, depends on factors such as the proximity of conversion, standing out from competitors and relevance for the brand.
The intersection of these two paths is where you must invest. The fashion label Intropia knows exactly where this intersection lies. Some time ago, they discovered that when customers received items of clothing that were not the right size, they got frustrated and returned the order. So they designed a size adviser based on machine learning. This reduced returns by 20% and enhanced the customer experience.
It’s important to rank things by importance in order to distribute your resources and efforts across an interaction map
6. Innovate by surprise
The next step in creating experiences is the surprise factor. Customers today are more demanding. They are increasingly used to having wow! experiences and are difficult to surprise, so you should work on three levels.
The first level consists of expected or basic needs, i.e. the ones taken for granted. In themselves, they are not a source of satisfaction but do cause huge dissatisfaction when not met. These experiences are the lowest threshold for competing in the market.
The second level concerns the service expected. These experiences are satisfactory depending on the degree to which they are fulfilled. They meet customers’ explicit expectations or needs. The third level concerns unexpected or emotional needs.
Customers do not expect them, and so they make them enthusiastic and pleased. These are the experiences that make you stand out from the competition.
7. Stop being complacent
Many businesses think that their CX is much better than it really is. This complacency is one of the major obstacle to creating positive experiences.
A survey of luxury goods CX did in fact reveal that 80% of the companies surveyed thought that they offered their customers a first-rate experience. When their customers were asked the same question, however, only 8% described it as such. Hence the importance of not being complacent.
8. Get your teams on board
The employee experience is a crucial part of creating effective experiences. In fact, it’s impossible to create them without a committed team. Team building requires protocols that all team members can understand and be trained in. Once this is achieved, it is important to monitor their performance with specific indicators and solve any problems that may arise.
Employees’ passion for the brand makes their discourse consistent and convincing
9. Analyse, assess and measure
A variety of indicators can be used to monitor CX. Direct indicators are those related to customer satisfaction. They stem from research and surveys. Indirect indicators are related to corporate growth figures and although they are not inextricably linked to the experience, they do reveal its impact on business results.
These nine tips might be helpful when designing new business strategies in the CX era, where experiences convey loyalty, conversion and results.
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