We build digital products, and we want the user experience of these products, whether they’re apps, websites or platforms, to be the best they can be. Whilst it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure this happens, our UX team are the golden thread that ties it all together, from early prototype testing through to launch and handover.
Our clients feel reassured that user experience is part of our DNA, and they can see first-hand the care and attention that we put into projects, from big, important decisions such as a home screen layout, through to the many micro considerations such as the wording of a CTA. It all matters, and whilst not every client has that detail-oriented mindset from day one, they certainly think about it a little differently having worked with us on a project.
But one thing that many agencies of our size overlook is customer experience, or CX. I’ve spent a great deal of time (and my training budget) sharpening my CX skills with a view to setting up a more formalised CX team at Kyan, and ultimately, a CX mindset across the entire agency. After all, CX is company-wide by nature. Because it has to be.
Our understanding of CX
When we look at the products that we’ve built and launched over the last several years, there are few similarities in the sectors themselves, but a great deal of commonality when we look at the customer.
More often than not, we are building digital products for businesses that are still growing, learning and evolving when it comes to digital. And that means their customers are changing too. They’re no longer discovering products and services in the back of newspapers or via television ads. They may be making purchases entirely online, or perhaps they’re managing traditional services, like gas or electricity, without even talking to a human being.
In a new era of digital-first services, touchpoints are changing and multiplying rapidly. From QR codes to confirmation emails, voice recognition to personalised adverts, customers have more choice than ever before, so the pressure is on for brands to ensure that every single way that a user interacts with their service is clear, consistent and effective.
CX in technology
Fundamentally, we are a technology company focused on creating amazing user experiences. We’re proud to say that we do that well, and our clients think so too. So why not stop there? For me, CX is an opportunity to do it even better. I am interested in how the customers of our customers feel, and I want to know for certain that whatever we build has a positive effect or impact beyond launch or delivery.
We can build a best-in-class product for a client, but other areas of their business need to be at the same level, and for us, this is an opportunity to help our client further – to help them create a truly customer-centric experience.
Agency world, even in 2022, is all about client satisfaction. Not customer satisfaction. That needs to change. We feel that we need to effectively ‘leapfrog’ the client and think about the experience of the end user, way beyond their interactions with the product that we are delivering. By taking a hypothesis first approach, we can bake in a CX mindset from that initial design sprint and continue to promote it throughout the lifecycle of the client relationship. CX is not an activity that you perform up front and only once – it’s iterative and constant.
Who does a CX team work with?
One of the main tenets of a customer experience mindset is a cross-functional team. And that’s not just internally. An effective project-specific CX team will extend deep into the client’s territory. Everyone from the business’s stakeholders (who can work with you to drive the CX agenda forward) right through to their sales team (whether they’re online chat, call centre staff or even on the shop floor) needs to be represented. Any team that has some kind of relationship with the customer or the product that the customer uses, must be involved to some level. Only then is it CX and not UX.
Embedding CX into design sprints
A design sprint or a strategy workshop is a good catalyst to start a CX process. You can quickly evaluate the whole ecosystem of the product, and it sets the client up well for the mindset that they should apply throughout the project. In fact, a design sprint and a CX mindset are a great combo. In our experience, both are relatively new to our clients, and effective too. When we hear our clients say “We’ve never done anything like that before” and “We’ve never had an agency help us in this way”, we know we are heading in a good direction.
There are two benefits here. We are helping our clients think about their customer experience in far broader terms, and we are helping ourselves as an agency by unearthing real value and data which allows us to make more informed design and development decisions.
A real-world example
Recently, we’ve been working with a major vehicle retailer, and a key part of the early vision and strategy workshops was discussing how in-store staff respond to online customers. In this example, the customer will visit a physical location to complete the remaining 10% of their purchase, having already done most of the formalities online.
At this point, the customer is in a self-service mindset. They feel autonomous, a sense of ownership, and have enjoyed the lack of phone calls, lengthy waiting times, or cold showroom coffee. So in an ideal world, they would arrive at the location, perhaps show a QR code or a confirmation email, and drive away in their shiny new vehicle.
The reality is, there’s still some final checks to do, and it’s the responsibility of a member of staff to complete those checks. The problem here was a noticeable overlap of the online process and the in-store process. Customers found themselves repeating steps that they’d already done at home on their laptop, or going over critical information that they’d already handed over weeks ago – information that they may no longer have quick access to.
This caused frustration amongst customers, and tempered what could have been a slick and seamless process. It didn’t make the staff particularly happy either. So what was the missing piece?
Well, as with many examples just like this one, it’s no one single thing, but a number of things, online and offline, digital and physical, that need to change. Alone, these changes are simple, but it’s that lack of overarching CX thinking that meant these things were missed.
It’s communication between the digital team and the in-store team. It’s the way that data is stored and transferred from customers to stores. And it’s the expectations that are set with the customer when they sign up in the first place. “Buy a car entirely online? Great!” That initial excitement can quickly become a two-star Trustpilot review, and it’s clear to see why.
CX bridges that gap. It connects those teams. Hooks up those processes. It leaves no stone unturned. And this is why I am so fascinated and excited by CX. It can change a good business into a great business. It can change a query into a sale. It can change a one-time customer into a repeat customer.
Simon’s final thought
I encourage you to apply CX thinking alongside your UX thinking. While the two are very different, they complement each other well, and when combined, can be a very powerful offering for your client.
At Kyan, we apply the three core principles of CX – vision, strategy and mindset. The vision is the direction, the strategy is how you get there, and the mindset is the person or team to drive that adoption business-wide.
CX isn’t just another acronym. It’s a way of life, man.
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