Customer Experience Is Not Advertising

Translated blog article. Originally published at CeBIT Web Experience Arena, 18-Dec-14

Deutsche Fassung

1. Why does “customer experience” matter so much in the digital world?

The contact with the customer is obvious in a real-world situation. A customer and a sales person meet, they build trust, and they exchange information and expectations for a certain product or service. In the digital world – despite the impact of all the CRM tools and e-commerce platforms – this relation becomes invisible. User Experience and Customer Experience professionals aim to ease the situation by designing the experience.

2. What's necessary for an appropiate (web/mobile) experience strategy?

The strategy needs to cover both online and offline aspects of the interaction. It also needs to have a multi-channel function. Designing “mobile first” should not mean that content suited for mobile devices is offered unchanged on the customer‘s laptop at home. The situations and contexts are rather different. One is for presenting a rapid product snapshot on the go, and the other is for a customer on the couch who wants to get further information. The strategy defines the tone of the messages for all interactions on all devices in all situations. We can do this by using a customer journey map that tells the design which info is appropriate at what point in time.

3. What is the biggest challenge in dealing with a “digital customer”?

A single point of sales ceased to exist at least 10 years ago. Since Web 2.0 began, the customers have become digital. They are connected, and they read customer reviews on several platforms before they make a purchase decision. They share their product experience with friends in their networks. The variety of platforms makes it almost impossible for the marketing departments to keep track of the discussions and to respond accordingly; that mandats an individual reply in an authentic voice.

4. What’s the situation for the companies? What’s good and where do they need to catch up?

Customer experience (CX) is not the same as advertising. CX is neither product design or web design. CX is part of the user’s experience, with a special focus on the sales phase. Designing for aspects of attention, interest, information, and purchase can and should be tackled with the same degree of effort as designing the product or service itself. It is a challenge for companies to portray themselves as one consistent image inspite of the several internal departments and external consultants who want to have a say in the game. A better approach would be to have a very clearly agreed-upon definition of the core values, and the brand, and then work from them to coordinate all the efforts.

5. What are the initial steps to kick off a customer experience project?

“It depends.” It depends on the product or service that will benefit from a well-designed customer experience. A customer experience project has to answer the following questions: Who is the customer? Which problem is solved? How do I reach out to my target audience? The technical term would be user research, which aims to understand the user, and creates personas and scenarios that document the customer insights.

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