By Jenny Olivier, Senior Client Partner at Decision Inc.
User experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) are vital business elements that have evolved significantly in recent years thanks to the availability of more innovative technology. This has also impacted how organisations are embracing their approaches to customer engagement.
Thanks to the likes of real-time journey mapping, virtual reality, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, virtual assistants, and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered technologies, businesses can have a more personalised, frictionless, and instantly responsive approach to their end users. This has seen the creation of more tailored customer experiences.
These technologies are therefore enabling organisations to understand their customers better. Today, they are more adept at tailoring their solutions and products in a more human way thanks to the greater insights derived from the data at hand. More importantly, this is now possible to do in a real-time manner for increased competitive differentiation.
An example of this is a UK-based fashion company that uses AI algorithms and predictive analytics to provide personalised clothing recommendation for each customer based on a photograph of them and their previous interactions with the business. Locally, medical aid providers are rewarding customer behaviour for everything from making healthy food choices to driving better. But despite all this technological sophistication, an organisation must ensure there is a consistent experience across channels. Too often, great CX is not repeated at every customer touchpoint.
With deeper customer understanding comes new thinking around how a product or service can improve circumstances or fulfil a purpose. However, we must always caution against only providing a customer experience that is both enjoyable and that which solves a problem. Instead, it should include experiences that matter.
As we progress in this experience economy, we will need to ensure that there is convergence between the brand narrative, the customer experience, and employee experience. In other words, the focus moves away from delivering products and solutions to rather delivering platforms for staging experiences.
When it comes to UX, companies used to implement products and solutions based on their assumptions of what they believed would work best for a customer. It was treated like an internal user interface consultancy where designs were handed off to developers to build and rollout to customers without any involvement from the end user.
Fortunately, UX now is an essential part of any business strategy. Solutions have become integrated and feature-rich to meet the needs of end-users. This implies that organisations are focusing more on user research, their behaviours, and testing to create more meaningful and emotionally engaging experiences.
This has seen the focus move towards building world-class UX teams who are not only creating the best experiences for their customers, but also solving increasingly complex challenges around data, AI, and the product ecosystems.
On the CX side, some organisations are still struggling in an environment where digital evolutions, regulatory compliance, and fluctuating economies are impacting on customers and how they interact with brands. They usually assign a few people to focus on this or introduce some form of technology. Alternatively, they limit their CX to a few interactions without looking at all customer interactions with the brand. They tend to focus externally on the problem and make decisions based on third-party feedback and data.
More mature organisations have shifted the focus to the customer. In this instance, CX forms an integral part of everything they do – from hiring, to performance management, to leadership development, operations, technology, product and solution design, and so on. Tools and technology are implemented for their ability to facilitate proactive, tailored, on-the-fly personalisation and customer engagements. Just think about the positive impact of AI integration and deep machine-learning.
Design thinking is also embedded in these organisations and they approach CX by closing the loop from feedback to action using both human insights and AI in the process. They are nimble and are quick to act and change as customer demand changes.
Both UX and CX have evolved both in terms of their sophistication and additionally to how businesses need to approach them. The digital landscape requires a more innovative way of thinking and decision-makers who are willing to integrate both these elements across all key touch points to deliver enhanced business value for customers.