Empathy for People
An Experience Mindset means designing for people. It can be a complex and subjective discipline. In human-centered design best practices, we are trying to understand emotion and build products and services aimed to adjust emotion to the benefit of the organization. The ability for users to connect with an organization’s products and services on an emotional level is a highly defensible and highly lucrative position. By understanding the people that use your products and services and by genuinely building solutions to support their needs, the organization that has an Experience Mindset will build products and services with high engagement value, high rates of adoption, and decreased maintenance costs.
Research that is focused on users will uncover opportunities for new customer acquisition, lower support costs, increase customer retention, and increase market share. Research also allows for simple baseline measurements from which comparisons can be made over time.
An organization that embraces research as a core discipline will approach initiatives with a sense of exploration and wonder. They will balance high-level business needs with an open and unscripted perspective. Through research and analysis, solutions that are on-point with the needs of the user and the employee begin to present themselves.
Research is a consistent and evolving practice for the organization. Research is done prior to design and development efforts as a discovery of possible solutions. Research is done after solutions are live as a report on the accuracy of assumptions made. It is a continuous conversation with customers, business drivers, employees, and processes.
Teams will look beyond disciplines and silos to understand the impact of experiences across an organization. A customer shouldn’t experience an organization through its siloed business units. By focusing on the customer instead of individual business goals, an Experience-minded organization works cross-functionally with multiple departments to provide experiences from the point of view of the customer. It looks at all interactions holistically rather than individual experiences and actively works across departments on priorities of the customer or employee rather than department goals. By considering human-centered design across these groups, businesses gain a shared understanding of its customer identity and culture.
Active and Ongoing Dialog with Customers and Employees
An organization with an Experience Mindset understands that their customer relationship is more than a moment in time. To truly understand the experience of the customer, the organization needs to have multiple ways to actively engage with customers through their experiences. They have points of engagement through multiple channels to engage in a relationship with customers, rather than transactions. They are aware of customer priorities and place these priorities ahead of departmental processes.
An internet retailer found that companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies, proving that customers want an on-going relationship with the organization.10
Executive Drive and Commitment to CX
An Experience Driven Organization understands that commitment to a better CX has to be the priority of every employee, from the executive to front-line staff. Executive passion and commitment to improving the customer’s experience drives the improvement of the experience for both customers and employees and provides the tools for continuous improvement.
Accept Failure for Progress
The Experience-minded organization has the ability to embrace and accept small failures for the good of the lessons it provides. A human-centered design practice is iterative. It gains strength by trying, testing, adjusting, and testing again. The organization will appreciate the understanding that the wrong way to go is actually an answer toward the correct path. It is only through this experimentation, testing, and learning that progress is made.
The Experience-minded organization understands that human-centered design best practices are an ongoing and iterative process. There is no ‘done’ to an organization that shares this mindset. There is only a snapshot in time, where the context of user’s needs and business drivers intersect with organizational culture and beliefs. When a product is released to the world, it is born into the context of the users that embrace it. The organization then becomes responsible for the ‘care and feeding’ of the products it births and is prepared for negative responses from the community and from internal support staff.
It is the organization’s opportunity to capitalize on this intersection of user needs and business drivers through human-centered design best practices of research, analysis, design, prototyping, testing, and iteration. These best practices provide for a consistently relevant solution for the user community. By developing a systemic release cadence, users will come to appreciate the organization’s commitment to the product and to them as meaningful individuals. Internally, the Organizational Experience will form best practices around repeatable, scalable delivery with a cadence that can be measured and planned toward.
The ability to quickly and effectively prototype for insight is an important characteristic of the Experience-minded organization. Prototypes become a tool for understanding; they become a medium to explore innovative ideas and gauge impact in a quick and inexpensive way.
There are many levels of fidelity in prototypes. The simplest form is executed on paper or whiteboards with the state of an experience drawn or blocked out to understand the flow. On the opposite scale, a complex prototype could be an installed application that functions very much like the intended final application. This fidelity of prototype could be used to introduce new or edited functionality to a user community before it is moved into full design and technical production.
No matter the fidelity, prototyping gives an organization insight into the validity of their ideas by collecting initial feedback on them prior to committing expensive resources to a full build. By combining prototyping with a disciplined approach to research and feedback, an Experience-minded organization benefits by only executing high-value initiatives to production.
Purposefully Scheduled Feedback and Governance
To continuously improve UX, CX and OX, an Experience-minded organization has structure and guidance to gain feedback and incorporate changes based on their findings. Research after deployment captures valuable data that aligns to human-centered design best practices. Design decisions are made based on observed user data; adjustments to experiences, both internal and external, are made through analysis of feedback data. This discipline effectively minimizes subjectivity inherent in design.
A mature Experience-minded organization will have a design governance model in place to guide its business and experiential decisions. Governance should be integrated and an ongoing process implemented to ensure that the business is ‘fit-for-purpose’ and aligned with its operating model.11 This governance should touch on UX best practices, human-centered design processes, research and data analysis, and organizational approaches to customer management.