Experience design (XD) is all about giving people a reason to smile and making their eyes twinkle. As vice president of UseLab and the organizer of UX Poland 2015 conference, I personally believe that every entrepreneur should care about customer experience.
Talking about experience design most often we encounter three terms: UX (user experience), CX (customer experience) and service design. While in the US this practice has been well developed over the last few years, in Poland it’s still in its infancy.
The Three Components of Experience Design
Customer Experience (CX) is the oldest from the above-mentioned disciplines, well known to those skilled in marketing. Frequently it is understood as a form of customer service or the satisfaction that the client derives from it. Of course, the product itself as well as the price are important, but there are many other factors that enhance our experience as a user or a customer. It can be a way a product is presented, its form, exceptional ease of use or availability through different channels.
User Experience (UX) focuses on designing mainly digital products, both online (e.g. websites, mobile apps) and recently more and more frequently offline solutions (e.g. touch kiosks or increasingly popular wearable technology that provide the best possible experience to the users. However, it not only means improvement in ergonomics, but also a better interaction with the product or even an enhanced physical sensation.
Service Design is at the same time the newest and the most holistic discipline. It extends the scope of design to all available channels and customer touchpoints. If a separate team works on providing a great experience through digital channel, e.g. mobile banking app, and the client visits a stationary branch of the same company but the experience in quality does not match the online one – the overall perception of the service is worsen. Therefore, Service Design promotes a holistic approach towards problem solving as well as a constant monitoring of clients’ experience through all channels and touchpoints.
Very often Service Design is associated with building new services or looking for a niche, whereas it can be as well applied to existing processes, thanks to a careful analysis and implementation of consequent improvements. It doesn’t have to be a complex IT system; sometimes a mere revision of communication process can have a great impact on customer experience, e.g. achieved through personal training or simply by placing information labels on hospital walls.
One could ask why should people enjoy using software? After all it just has to work properly. Agreed, a product should primarily be useful and ergonomic, but when these conditions are met we can start to develop it further. Designers use a model based on Maslow’s pyramid of needs, where UX is above the ergonomics of the product. Why? According to research conducted by Microsoft users of Office Suite spend more time with the products than with their families. Well-established applications are now woven into our everyday live to such extent that they begin to have a real influence on it. That’s why the producers should not only make sure that their products function properly, but also that they are fun and easy to use. We don’t want to spend a few hours a day doing something that’s simply a nuisance.
Experience Design: A new Area of Competitiveness
Why is it important to ensure that customers’ experience with a product is top-notch? It’s because within one sector or branch the competitiveness is quite limited. Of course every marketing department is in a constant struggle to communicate that it is their bank account that is the most beneficial to the client, but the truth is all these services are very similar, and the customer can only differentiate one from another by the face of the famous actor who promotes it.
Marketing is still an important tool to build advantage over the competition, but it has been noticed that exceptional experience with the product could also give the upper hand. It can be achieved by improving communication with the product, its appearance, usability and ergonomics or consistency across different channels.
At this point it is worth considering what exactly the best experience could mean. Sometimes we want to see a smile on user’s face – most brands aim to be associated with positive emotions. However, when it comes to a hospital its goal is not to make people smile but rather to ensure that the parents know what is happening to their children, to provide the sense of security etc. Thus the range of possible improvements is quite wide.
What’s interesting and important is that Service Design is not only focused on customers but also cares for the experience within the organization and the employees – how they will feel and what they need to derive a positive experience from delivering the product.
What are the benefits of a good service design? There is no single answer to this question. Redsign of a hospitalization process requires different performance indicators than an employee-training project in a financial institution. However, there is no doubt that every project has to have specifically designated, strict and quantifiable indicators. On their basis we can tell whether it was successful or not. Starting from soft area of customer experience we move to real business results: increased number of clients, revenue or effectiveness of the whole company.
A good example is a project realized by the British Government. Hospitals there had struggled with dissatisfaction of patients that had been brought to emergency rooms. Because of exceptionally poor experience those people had often claimed extensive damages from the hospitals. The Government decided to investigate this problem and to check what could be done to improve the process and make it less frustrating for the patients. As a result many improvement were implemented, such as: electronic timers that notify when the doctor is going to come, comprehensive door labels, staff trainings etc. Due to that changes the number of cases brought to the court has significantly decreased.
Summing it Up
How we can tell that the service is properly designed? The best evidence is the satisfaction of customers who return to it and recommend it, which ultimately translates to increased revenue of the company.
For me experience design is all about giving people a reason to smile and making their eyes twinkle. As a result they will return to the service again. From the business perspective – great design should increase the revenue and business effectiveness of our clients. If those two goals are achieved simultaneously, we believe our job is done.
There is an ongoing debate whether experience design should be renamed to Human Experience and left without the ‘user’ or ‘customer’ prefix, thus pushing it even further towards the offline world. More and more frequently, as in case of Facebook, we talk about experience of people and not users or customers. After all, everyone is sometimes a user, sometimes a customer but in the end – always a human.
Find out more at UX Poland 2015
If you would like to learn more – join the UX Poland 2015 conference, that will be held in Warsaw, Poland on April, 20-23. Based in Warsaw UseLab is the organizer of the conference and its main aim is to invite the greatest number of key experts from around the world and create a place where they could meet with local specialists and exchange experiences and insights on the dynamically changing industry.
This year’s conference program has been extended by one extra day during which there will take place the Experience Showroom – consisting of a series of condensed, short speeches in which UX practitioners will present the cases of already implemented solutions. This new formula allows participants to get to know real challenges and ways of solving them in practice, not just in theory.
Two following days will be filled with workshops, during which interested participants will be able to share their experiences. The emphasis will be placed on the practice, useful knowledge, discussing specific, ready to implement solutions.
For the last day of conference there is scheduled a series of nine inspirational lectures, showing international trends in the field of UX. Among the speakers there will be specialists from the all continents, including Michael Smuga from Microsoft, Matt Lee from Booking.com and Nathan Shedroff from California College of the Arts.
The conference will be held under the theme “Experience Everywhere”, thereby emphasizing the increasingly noticeable trend in the world: while the most of services are digitizing, design experience moves from online to the real world, focusing on experiences of people (Human Experience). Even experts herald the advent of economics experience era (exponomy), in which the competitive advantage of companies is not only determined by innovation or the best price, but also by a positive experience for both the client and the employees. Due to such a universal basis subject, UX Poland 2015 conference is an important event not only for industry, but mainly for entrepreneurs, designers and the wider public sector, presenting them with real benefits that investment in designing experiences could bring.
The partners of the UX Poland 2015 conference are: MasterCard, Asseco, Microsoft, Kina’ole, UXPin, Brand24 and UXeria.
The event program and tickets are available at http://www.uxpoland.com/
Disclaimer: The paragraph entitled “Find out more at UX Poland 2015” is promotional in nature. I am not affiliated in any way with the company organizing this event. Regardless, I only information that I believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
(Lead image: Depositphotos)