The Year of the Customer: The UX Checklist for 2015

With 2015 just around the corner, it’s time to make sure you’re ready to tackle the challenges the year will bring.

More and more, we see the challenges that businesses face as being driven by deficits in the end customer experience they deliver to customers. To that end, we’ve prepared a way to help you think about user experience (UX) in your own organization, along with a few tips to help you get UX ready for the new year!

Thinking About Experience: Knowing What to Measure and Do Next

Experience is a tricky byproduct of a business to manage. On the one hand, it’s probably the single-most important factor in acquiring and retaining customers, while on the other, impacting it and quantifying the returns of doing so are difficult tasks to master.

When tackling this problem, we tend to think of this as a model that is comprised of three stages. Each of these stages helps you to identify where your own organization is at in terms of managing this dynamic, but also gives you a sense of what you should do next. We see this as three interlocking stages, each progressing on the one before it:

1. Visibility

Do you have visibility over the customer experience in your business right now? Do you know where it begins, ends, the stages it is comprised of, or the knowledge of customer motivations at each point in the journey, and how these contribute to pain or delight points?

2. Influence

Given your knowledge of the customer journey, does your organization make deliberate attempts to influence customers at different points in the journey, outside of acquiring customers to begin with? Once you have visibility over the customer experience, you are in a position to intervene selectively at distinct phases where you know you can make an impact.

3. Control

Your organization actively and explicitly develops and deploys products and services in the context of a larger customer experience. Products and services are what you make, though experiences are what you deliver, and this is understood universally within the organization as the best way to think about your business. You actively plan for direct intervention at selected touchpoints that map back to your strategy, and aim to consistently provide a high quality experiential outcome for your customers.

Identifying where you are at in this model will help you understand what actions you need to take in the new year in order to increase the effectiveness of experience in your business.

Tips for Being UX Ready in 2015

1. Know What You Are Measuring and Why

Probably the trickiest part of doing anything digitally is connecting your actions with a tangible outcome. Certainly, tracking activity is easy, though this tends to yield an ocean of data that is little understood by the rest of the business. This tends to manifest in meaningless vanity metrics, a data-driven discussion which continually yield little in the way of tangible strategic direction for the business.

Instead, incorporating user experience practitioners into your business will help to clear the haze that this creates. Creating structured and meaningful customer-centric metrics will help to give your business the direction it needs to progress digitally.

2. Have Someone Be Responsible for the Ongoing Work

Once-and-done is not the way to think about digital experience design. The phrase “If it isn’t someone’s job, it’s no-one’s job” rings truer here than ever.

The companies which consistently excel at providing a great customer experience also put an incredible effort into doing so. User experience practitioners help to provide the locus of control for these activities, helping to articulate the strategies and program of work necessary to create a great end-to-end customer experience.

3. Be Ready to Live in a Constant State of Change

Following on from that also, the rate of change that most industries find themselves subject to is increasing. Organizations without the structural flexibility to adapt to this change in terms of their product or service offering will struggle to maintain relevance in 2015 onwards.

This means that many business will need to move from a static, strategy-oriented planning framework to a much more experimental agenda. User experience professionals in combination with technologists can provide a superb skillset for igniting this experimentation within your business.

4. Strike a Balance Between Remedial UX and Progressive UX

Finally, ensure that you strike a budgetary balance between the ongoing work of optimizing an existing experience and creating a new experience.

Much of the competitive advantage that user experience provides is tied up in using the intelligence your gather from customers in the form of research to create new markets by launching innovative services and products. Typically these services and products fill an adjacent need from your existing customers, and can provide opportunities to innovate in your organization’s core capabilities.

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