By The TandemSeven Experts
As organizations position to win in the digital age, the lines between online and offline channels, and front-office and back-office functions, are blurring. Investments must maximize value to target customers across all channels and touch points: the entire end-to-end “customer experience” (CX).
A major contributor to a successful customer experience, especially in digital environments, is the user experience (UX). The expert input of a user experience team is essential to the success for digital experiences. However, UX input is under-valued in many organizations, where research and design deliverables are rarely seen or leveraged beyond a single project. In some cases, CX initiatives overlap or even appear to be in competition with UX initiatives due to lack of visibility and coordination.
In this post, I’ll present an approach for unifying CX and UX processes and teams by mapping research insights to a consistent enterprise view of customers and users; and linking research findings to measurable results.
Using this approach, a user experience team can dramatically increase the enterprise value of their work by making their results more visible, valuable, and repeatable. And organizations that target, measure, and align around a unified CX/UX strategy can gain significant advantage in market share, profitability, and customer satisfaction.
The State of UX
UX practice, distilled over 50 years in the Design Thinking discipline, relies on direct observation of current or prospective users through ethnography and contextual inquiry. In most organizations, UX means digital UX, the experience of a user with applications, devices, or processes. The UX research/design/prototype/test methodology creates and tunes the interactions of specific user types over one or more digital devices, or channels.
Key tools in UX design are contextual inquiry, card sorting and cluster exploration, personas, scenarios, and journey maps. Testing tools are used to measure user interactions and report results to design/development teams.
The Rise of CX
While there are parallels between the domains and increasing overlap in best practices, CX and UX come from separate worldviews.
CX focuses on pre-sales touch points, customer challenges and satisfaction, and front-office processes across multiple offline and online interactions. Voice of the Customer (VOC) and other quantitative feedback collection tools are central. CX teams use journey maps and segment profiles (sometimes also called personas), focusing on process and service design more than product design and delivery.
Maximize Synergies by Improving Organizational Alignment
Certain organizational characteristics help maximize the synergy between CX/UX:
- C-level sponsorship – with authority and budget
- Cross-functional teamwork at the VP and Director level – especially among marketing, sales, customer support, product management, product design, and development/IT
- Cross-functional language and processes – shared definitions, standards, and governance that promote alignment vs. silos
- End-to-end vision that understands both CX and UX as necessary to a customer-centric strategy
- Research, test, and measurement calibrating each component of the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of delivering value in the market.
Implement Common Methodologies and Tools
Market and ethnographic research, interaction and usability data, and customer feedback must align for a complete picture of user behavior. These assets should be treated strategically in an analysis environment that facilitates synthesis and synergy among their complementary data. This competency, turning customer intimacy data into a strategic asset, creates CX/UX winners in the marketplace.
There may be occasions where you need an external partner to reconcile CX/UX priorities. Evaluate whether these CX or UX consultants are well-rounded in their capabilities in order to fully optimize your user experience practice.
Both customer experience and user experience teams are responsible for taking the customer point of view to improve the success of the business. Everyone who has a touch point with the customer has a valuable perspective about the customer point of view – but there are many touch points. The right systems can help map, align, and manage your touch points end to end.
A repeatable approach across CX and UX uses a common, organization-wide methodology and research/collaboration platform. Whether a project starts from a CX or UX point of view, it follows a common progression:
These steps are highly iterative, with feedback loops between each one. The steps also fit into a larger context of business goals and initiatives.
Align Your Teams Around a Shared Platform
To be effective, an enterprise UX/CX platform should include the following components across CX and UX domains:
Use a Repository to Manage Experience Design Assets in One Place.
Create a centralized rich-media repository for customer and user data and the research, UX, and design assets derived from that data. This allows your user experience team to turn customer and user behavior data into a shared asset to optimize customer and user experiences. The repository keeps research, target customer profiles and user personas, task and journey models, designs, and user stories organized for consistency, traceability, and re-use.
2. User Models
Employ user models to create and share dynamic market segment profiles and personas.
Enable your customer intelligence platform to keep pace with your customers by upgrading customer profiles and personas from static pictures to dynamic online assets. Establishing an enterprise-level program to create and manage personas will ensure that there is a consistent focus on customer needs.
3. Task Models
Task Models help clarify Customer Goals through real-life scenarios. Implementing systems for robust scenario and task modeling to capture and communicate customer priorities and preferences:
- Understand and communicate user goals, tasks, and scenarios for your applications
- Map combinations of devices and contexts, especially for multi-channel applications
- Build task models to understand and prioritize the complex array of user interactions.
4. Journey Maps
Bring customer experience to life with interactive journey maps—providing your whole organization with a high-impact visual understanding of your customers’ goals and touch points.
Use scenarios to create a shared understanding among your marketing, development, and service delivery teams. Link journey stages dynamically to tasks, devices and channels, personas, and design projects and deliverables for a shared business context across the organization.
Dashboards provide role-based visibility for each business stakeholder. This allows you to tailor specific insights and needs for each department and area of responsibility.
Customize permissions and views to highlight insights and actions for every member of your team.
6. Story Maps
Visualize and communicate prioritized user stories to your development team by integrating with agile development platforms.
- Organize scenarios and tasks into user stories and release packages—unifying research, design, and development for agile delivery with world-class UX.
- Keep design and development synchronized using a Story Map for visual navigation.
- Create a system of record for design deliverables and supporting research.
- Integrate UX with application lifecycle management tools with seamless traceability and deep context at the story card level for better communication among product owners, designers, and developers.
Employing a unified approach to CX and UX research is essential for linking activities and investments across the customer value chain. Using this approach, a user experience team can maximize the value of their work by making their results more visible, valuable, and repeatable.
Align CX and UX initiatives with our Experience Playbook Solutions.
How have you communicated the value of your UX team in your organization? Sound off in the comments.