These days, purchasing decisions aren’t just driven by product design, or marketing, or even price. For a growing percentage of people – about 73% of US consumers, according to PwC – customer experience is becoming the biggest factor in whether or not they actually buy something. In other words, we’re now motivated just as much by the experience of shopping as whatever it is we’re shopping for. And that goes for online and physical purchases.
The landscape has changed. Consumers expect more from brands now. They expect a great experience – before, during and even after purchase – and this has led to the rise of a new discipline in the product journey: Customer Experience Design (also known as CX Design).
What is CX Design?
Customer Experience Design is a little hard to pin down, because it overlaps with related disciplines like Service Design, User Experience Design (UX) and even Product Design. But fundamentally, it’s about trying to improve a customer’s interaction with a brand. Not just a product. As Adam Fard puts it, “While the discipline’s goal is to increase conversions and the company’s bottom line, it does that by creating fulfilling experiences for a brand’s clientele, by leveraging empathy and purpose.”
Customer Experience Design doesn’t begin when someone uses a product. It starts from the very first brand touchpoint – a search, a website, or the moment you set foot inside a physical store. And with today’s focus on SaaS and endless iteration, it never really ends. Every time we get a helpful follow-up email, or live chat with an expert, or navigate an app successfully, we take another step through a Customer Experience journey. A journey that was carefully designed, scripted and optimised by a CX professional.
Why does CX matter?
CX is a simple and very lucrative equation: The better the customer journey, the better the experience, and the better the experience, the higher the brand satisfaction and loyalty. Higher brand loyalty equals better retention and, ultimately, profits. 84% of companies that invest in customer experience report an increase in their revenue. 79% say it saves them money.
CX has become a crucial part of product design, and general business, because consumer expectations have changed. It’s simply not enough to design a great product anymore. If your website is clunky, your customer service is unhelpful, or your communications are confusing, you’ll never retain customers. Moreover, as products start to become more homogenized and similar, customer experience is a way for brands to differentiate themselves. All things being equal, in a crowded market, the best CX will usually win.
Companies are starting to wake up to this fact, which is why global CX spending is projected to hit nearly $641 billion by 2022. Almost 90% of companies now have a CXO position, or head of Customer Experience, which is 25% more than in 2017. Interestingly, according to a Gartner survey in 2018, two thirds of marketers said their companies competed mostly on the basis of CX – not price, or features, or product design, or even customer service. Brands have stopped thinking in terms of silos – product over here, service over there – and now see customer interaction as a bigger, interconnected picture. And it’s working. Companies that take the lead in customer experience outperform the competition by nearly 80%.
The potential of Customer Experience Design
Why have product design and customer experience design become intertwined? Mostly because it’s extremely profitable. Investing your dollars into CX has been shown to massively improve customer satisfaction, which in turn decreases acquisition costs and shrinks your customer churn rate. In other words, you’re more likely to keep the customer you have (which, as everyone knows, is much cheaper than attracting new ones).
The flow-on from this is, of course, free marketing. According to recent studies, customers these days are more likely to leave positive reviews than negative ones, which means CX can unlock word of mouth and referral business. Customer Experience is your social proof.
And the bottom line? Deloitte reports that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t focus on customers. The tools a company needs to become ‘customer centric’ might be complicated – customer personas, empathy mapping, trends analysis, pain point identification etc. – but the philosophy and mindset are quite simple. All you need to do is think, across every touchpoint and every interaction, ‘How can we make this better for the customer?’
Interested in learning about Customer Experience Design? Check out our CX Design and Strategy courses here