Experience

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More than a collection of touchpoints, products, or solutions, an organization with an Experience Mindset understands how all channels in the customer journey work in coordination with each other and flow holistically. The Ideal State Organization works hard to create user, customer, and organizational experiences that engage and delight individuals from all of these touchpoints in the customer journey while maintaining a focused commitment to the mission, vision, and values of the organization.

An Experience Mindset means understanding the organizational interactions from a human perspective.

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More than a collection of touchpoints, products, or solutions, an organization with an Experience Mindset understands how all channels in the customer journey work in coordination with each other and flow holistically.

In the context of the Experience Mindset, there are three areas of focus: User Experience (UX), Customer Experience (CX) and Organizational Experience (OX):

  • User Experience refers to a user’s satisfaction with the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and a company’s product or service.1

  • Customer Experience is broader in scope than User Experience. It refers to the totality of a customer’s interaction with a company and all of it’s relevant products and services over time, and typically includes reference to emotional connections made with an organization.2

  • Organizational Experience is an internal reflection of an organization’s commitment to and presentation of its mission, vision, and values. When done properly, relationships, communication, confidence, stability, innovation, and creativity form a community of like-mindedness within the organization.

When an Experience-minded approach is ignored and technology solutions are put into the market that are ill-designed, not thoroughly tested during development, or created without consideration of the end user’s needs, the costs can be tremendous. Studies have shown that 40-50% of a typical IT organization’s software developer’s time is spent addressing avoidable rework as opposed to providing work on new and enhanced features. In an Experience Mindset, an iterative, user-centered development approach would be considered best practice. Although this approach may add cost to the initial development effort, the cost of issues addressed after the software product is live can be as much as 100 times higher than if managed during the initial development.3

User Experience

User Experience is a core component of an Experience Mindset. The process of creating high quality UX solutions can be described as User Experience Design. This type of design is a creative approach to problem solving that starts with understanding and gaining empathy for the people you’re creating for and ends with solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs. It is an iterative process where many ideas are explored, tested, validated and improved upon. In the end, the solutions created are successful because the people you are designing for are at the center of the process.4

The process of User Experience Design is built on the following foundations:5

  • Researching and user empathy
  • Defining the problem
  • Generating possible solutions
  • Creating a prototype
  • Testing assumptions and iterating

Organizations and disciplines use slightly different language and techniques, but overall, the processes remains very similar. UX, or human-centered design, is rooted in social science and technology and is noted for its ability to incorporate culturally sound, human-informed, appropriate solutions to problems in many fields, rather than solely product and technology-based fields.6 An organization builds to provide solutions to solve the problem for the person rather than simply providing features and functions.

Customer Experience

Customer Experience is the second of the Experience Mindset components. It is more broad in scope than the User Experience component. Forrester simply defines it as “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.”7 It can also be described as the product of all interactions a customer has with an organization.

For an organization to capitalize on quality customer experiences, they must be valuable, have a high quality user experience, and create positive emotional connections. The Experience-minded organization will create strategic approaches to understand their customers. They will build quality user interactions that engage and delight. They will measure these experiences through user testing and iteration. They will have a governance model that guides, measures, and reports on the process. Forrester defines a total of six disciplines an organization must have for great customer experiences—strategy, customer understanding, design, measurement, governance, and culture.8

Organizational Experience

An organization that embraces an Experience Mindset is also introspective through Organizational Experience. They gain advantages from empathy and focus on internal employee experiences. They work hard to create and utilize cross practice teams and to break down silos. They increase employee morale by providing tools and processes pointed toward their experiences in the workplace. This mindset can create a market advantage for an organization by empowering its employees to drive high value to external customers.

In an Experience Driven Organization, every employee understands the value they bring to the customer. People want to help other people. They have KPI’s and goals that are tied to improving CX and can clearly articulate their contributions. Tempkin Group found that companies who outpace their competitors in CX have 50% more engaged employees than those with CX that lags their peers.9

Characteristics

Organizations that embrace this mindset typically possess the following nine characteristics that enable its ideal state to be realized:

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 Discipline

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.

Cross-Organizational Teams

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.

Evergreen Approach

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.

Prototyping

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.

Pain Points

Poor User-Acceptance

Ideas are generated and executed with little to no consideration for the user. This causes a dramatic drop in user acceptance and adoption, a major factor in project failures. A study by Forrester Research cites 70% of projects fail due to a lack of user acceptance.12

Solving the Wrong Problem

By focusing on user needs and solving for the most pressing and appropriate challenges, an organization saves themselves from needing to make changes down the road, when it’s too expensive or too late to retain users.13 Companies focus on solutions, features, and functions instead of focusing on the problem that needs solved. This leads to frustrated customers and challenges to the support organization.

High Costs

Without adopting an Experience Mindset, an organization will see higher costs of customer acquisition, higher support costs, decreased retention, decreased market share, low employee morale, high employee attrition, and low employee engagement.14 There are hidden costs in poor experiences that are difficult to track but can have great impact on the organization. Decreased referrals, decreased trust in a system, decreased number of visits or time spent in a system all can add to an increase in design, development and maintenance time and cost.

Low Adoption of Costly Systems

In a 2009 study by Neochange, Sandhill and the TSIA, the most important factor for realizing value from application development, was effective user adoption. In fact, 72% of respondents cited user adoption as the critical component. “Many software deployments satisfy 100% of business requirements only to fail in the final phase of user adoption.”15

Loyalty Attrition of Employees and Customers

When customers are unhappy with your products and services due to a poor experience, they are less loyal. When customers complain, the employee experience begins to diminish from complaints and negativity. According to Oracle, 92% of customers feel a poor service experience decreases their loyalty. 64% have made future purchases from a company’s competitor after experiencing poor customer service.16 Organizations that don’t focus on good experiences see there customers and employees leave.

Siloed Departments

Organizations that don’t have an Experience Mindset often have silos between departments and redundant systems. Individual business units run separately and don’t understand the holistic goal of CX. They disseminate confusing and cumbersome experiences that are frequently fractured and incongruous with one another. Multiple departments may have applications leaving the business and IT departments confused on where to invest and maintain.

In this scenario, the customer will experience redundant processes, broken experiences and frustrations. They are forced to suffer through experiences instead of accomplishing their tasks easily. 79% of users would only retry an app if it failed to work the first time.17 However, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.18 Without the Experience Mindset, organizations spend money fixing problems instead of delivering value.

Conclusion

The Experience Mindset should be an important part of an organization’s DNA. By integrating the foundational elements of UX, CX and OX as well as implementing best practices in human-centered design—building empathy and understanding, creating innovative ideas to the ‘right’ problems, testing, validating and iterating—an organization will gain valuable insight into how to reach and engage their customers and employees. Adopting an Experience Mindset improves the relationship between an organization and its customers, improves internal collaboration, and increases quality and loyalty of employees.

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