Don’t Mistake Customer Experience Design for Customer Experience

Published: Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Even though Customer Experience (CX) is all about the customer, we sometimes forget and start to think it’s about us. We build personas that represent known customer characteristics. We work hard to think through and map the experience we would like them to have, trying hard to ensure that every touchpoint makes sense and helps them find what they are looking for on our website or in our store or in our app. And all those are good things.

Ultimately, however, we need to remember that customers are individuals and experience things in different ways. What excites some people frightens others; what seems perfectly intuitive to me may confuse and frustrate you.

In order to make the customer experience the best it can be for the largest number of people, we need to get feedback from customers in as near real-time as possible. While surveys, interviews, and focus groups are essential to get us on track and keep us on track, understanding customer behaviors can be where the magic really happens. Where did they pause along their customer journey? What did they do after that pause? Did they continue the way we predicted, or did they go off in a different direction? Analyzing customer behaviors can give us insights into their motivations and sentiments—and we have some great technologies to help us:

  • Predictive analytics help us increase our planning accuracy.

  • Sentiment analysis helps us understand subjective feelings and behaviors a customer may not even be aware of.

  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence can help us interpret, categorize, and visualize patterns in customer behavior based on data sets that otherwise would be too time consuming or complex to analyze.

But the story doesn’t end there. Once we have as much information and data as we can gather about our customers, we need to interpret it to create knowledge and disseminate that knowledge to everyone involved in contributing to the customer experience, and that means everyone. In the sage words of Jan Carlzon, “If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” Marketing, sales, finance, legal, human resources, production, technology services, and of course customer service—everyone in the organization contributes in one way or another to the planning and offering of our products and services, and ultimately our customers are the arbiters of our success.

Organizations certainly should be focused on CX. In a world connected by technology and filled with competitive options, customers are going to make choices based on their perceptions of brands and products. The work of CX is to present our brand and our products in ways our customers like, find attractive, and want to repeat. But we must bear in mind that we are presenting them; it is our customers who make the decision to purchase. The customer experience is all about them.

About the Author

HDI’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his role as Group Principal Analyst he acts as HDI and ICMI’s in-house subject matter expert, bringing his years of experience to the community. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. He was inducted into the HDI Hall of Fame in 2018.

Follow Roy @RoyAtkinson

This article is an excerpt from our new eBook Build a Better Customer Experience available here.