In the past, there was only one boss: the customer. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, used to say that “the customer can throw everyone out, from the president of the company on down, by simply going and spending his money elsewhere. To keep the customer coming back each time, in addition to the basics of price, product and variety, there is the experience. What customer experience means and represents re-draws the brand-customer relationship in the 21st century.
Nowadays an application, be it web, mobile, Smart TV, wearables, etc., must be focused on the user experience. The design of the user experience involves different aspects such as information architecture, so that navigation is intuitive and the distance in clicks to reach the content or perform key actions is the minimum necessary; usability design, so that the interface is clear and understandable to the user; and visual design, to create a friendly environment aligned with the image and essence of the brand.
The design of the user experience is key for an application to be accepted and to achieve business objectives. Every day I see more and more necessary a meeting between the world of programmers, engineers, technicians with the world of creative, customer relationship, communication.
Steve Jobs said, “Our DNA is that of a consumer company, we are built for a customer who knows right from wrong. I think our job is to be responsible for the totality of the user experience. And if it doesn’t meet their expectations, it’s totally our fault, simple as that.”
Currently the discipline of User Experience Design (UXD) has established itself as an essential component of any digital initiative. Although it is part of a broader set that includes other areas such as functional analysis, programming or quality control in the context of an implementation project, it is often approached as a specific problem of the solution to be implemented, and its importance lies in the fact that UXD is directly involved in the success of two essential aspects: the conversion of objectives and the image projected by the brand.
Designing an experience is not easy, but a good start is that it conveys the essence of the brand. Ultimately, design is not just what it looks like or how it works. Design is how it makes you feel. And how you make your customers feel is your brand. One of the objectives as a brand is not only to offer the best customer experience, but to make it unforgettable, in the best sense of the word. Because brands cannot aspire to a “one time client”, the business is in loyalty, commitment, recurrence.
The positive experience will become more and more relevant and strategic. The customer will forget almost everything, except how you have made him feel. That is why the Customer Experience (CX) is becoming more and more significant. Customer Experience is the sum of all the experiences that a customer has with a brand, throughout the duration of the relationship.
The customer, in a proper experience, should be at the center of the initiatives and decisions of companies (hence it can be taken as a synonym of Customer Centric or Customer Focus). I find it frustrating to be writing about these kinds of truisms that are obvious to customers, to people, but so unobvious to most companies. How many brands in the last 30 days have offered you an outstanding customer experience? (crickets… crickets…) How many brands have a customer service culture?
At the end of 2018, I listened to a senior executive of a large corporation explain to me that his plan for the coming year is to put the customer at the center of his strategy. Let’s say that it is better late than never, and that it is much more costly to do nothing than to do it late. Then this manager may be disappointed if his plan fails, but he will be finished if he doesn’t try.
This reality is the response (reactive, not proactive) to the increase in power and choice of customers, brought about first by the emergence of the internet, then by the explosion of social networks and smartphones and tablets, and later by the development of algorithms and the artificial intelligence universe, including big data.Using new technologies to plan, coordinate and measure our actions (not only marketing), replacing manual tasks with automatic processes, which adjust themselves according to the learning they acquire from the use that users make of our communications or digital assets, is a very good thing. It is part of the natural and evolutionary process of organizations. Welcome digital tools.
But new technologies can only help to improve, to optimize processes, but let’s not forget that brands are people, customers are people and if technology is not humanized it will not connect with those it has to connect with. To put it very simply, it is technology (the new) that adds to pampering the customer, embracing him, smiling at him, making him feel important, relevant (the old, but forgotten by most brands). Taking care of their time, valuing it, thanking them, is something as human as saying “good morning”. Many brands try to immerse themselves in the digital world, relegating the human aspect, and it is imperative not to forget that although practically all companies talk about technology, customers are crying out for emotions, a good treatment, a 10 service.
Let’s go back to the beginning, to the origin, to the human. All customers are people. All employees are people. If you can’t understand people, you can’t do business. Let’s say it again, brands have the best case scenario in their favor, customers expect better and better service, but few brands are willing to give it. Yes to say it, but not to do it.
Today, brands are worth more for what they do than for what they say. The opportunity to stand out is in fulfilling the promise of value, in making real everything you say you are. Although technology is a blessing to optimize and improve processes, the quality of the experience depends largely on the quality of your people. Of your team, of the human. The quality of the experience that customers have with your employees is what invites them to choose you again and again. The formula is simple: if your employees love your brand, they will love your customers. And vice versa.
We could make a long list of “excuses” from companies about how “complicated” it is to offer excellent customer service and build outstanding customer relationships. At the same time, we could write another long list about brands that have invested in their people, in customer relationships, in understanding the brand experience as a core part of their growth, and in knowing that the only way to stand out is to do things beautifully, giving people more than they expect.
No brand has ever become poor by giving, so it bears repeating once again: “the customer can throw everyone out, from the president of the company on down, by simply going to spend their money somewhere else”.