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Make Your Company More Customer Centric

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by Michal Mazur
UX Designer at Pomegranate Media
© Pomegranate Media 2015
e
make your company more
In recent months, we have noted growing interest in
customer-centricity among our clients. In parallel with
delivering gre...
4
WHAT DOES
‘CUSTOMER-CENTRIC’
MEAN?
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Make Your Company More Customer Centric

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In recent months, we have noted growing interest in customer-centricity among our clients. In parallel with delivering great digital experiences, we are having discussions on which other business activities could be enhanced and how. Moreover, many industry conferences have identified integrated UX and customer understanding as the next step in the evolution of business process design.

We therefore decided it was the perfect time to share our own thoughts by publishing our introductory ebook.

In recent months, we have noted growing interest in customer-centricity among our clients. In parallel with delivering great digital experiences, we are having discussions on which other business activities could be enhanced and how. Moreover, many industry conferences have identified integrated UX and customer understanding as the next step in the evolution of business process design.

We therefore decided it was the perfect time to share our own thoughts by publishing our introductory ebook.

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Make Your Company More Customer Centric

  1. 1. by Michal Mazur UX Designer at Pomegranate Media © Pomegranate Media 2015 e make your company more
  2. 2. In recent months, we have noted growing interest in customer-centricity among our clients. In parallel with delivering great digital experiences, we are having discussions on which other business activities could be enhanced and how. Moreover, many industry conferences have identified integrated UX and customer understanding as the next step in the evolution of business process design. We therefore decided it was the perfect time to share our own thoughts by publishing our introductory ebook “ “
  3. 3. 4 WHAT DOES ‘CUSTOMER-CENTRIC’ MEAN?
  4. 4. 5 The term customer-centric is pretty self-explanatory, however we can elaborate on its interpretation. Wikipedia’s definition of user-centered design is a helpful start: “User-centred design (UCD) is a framework of processes (not restricted to interfaces or technologies) in which the needs, wants, and limitations of end users of a product, service or process are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process.1 ” The terms human-centered, user-centered, customer-centered, or customer-centric are interchangeable as, in the end, they mean the same thing - putting the user of your products or services at the heart of your business and your design process. Customer-centric companies are not only involving users in their process - they are allowing user needs to drive the whole company’s strategy, as they feel that in order to truly understand the customer’s needs, you need to empower them. The famous professor of psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, states that “If we’re more involved in something, if we co-create, we feel a sense of accomplishment. Companies that relate to the ‘meaning’ layer of human nature are able to provide a natural two-way communication that enables customers to co-create the culture arising around the organisation and therefore establish deeper relationships”. The customer-centric approach is often difficult to digest for traditional meeting- room-brainstorm enthusiasts, who are used to hypothesising about user needs, behaviours and problems. Suddenly the ideas they thought are working turn out to be totally misaligned with how their customers perceive the world. However, when people overcome the scepticism and listen to the users, they are amazed how eye-opening and exciting it can be for them! 1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User-centered_design What does ‘customer-centric’ mean?
  5. 5. 6 WHICH FAMOUS COMPANIES FOLLOW THIS APPROACH? We have selected a few of examples we consider worth taking a closer look at. These companies have harnessed the user-centered design methodology and are following this approach, transforming it into their strategic advantage. • AirBnb A company co-founded by a designer, Joe Gebbia, is currently one of the leading forces of the hospitality induwstry. The latest $1.5 billion round of funding values the company at $25 billion, larger than the market capitalization of Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.2 • Amazon A giant that requires no introduction. Jeff Bezos, a passionate user- centered businessman, implemented a scalable business model which relies on: Offering fast, hassle-free ordering and delivery and going out of the way to help customers get the best deal. Every design team is customer-centered, relying heavily on user testing and data analysis. • Zappos An online store selling... shoes. Their core advantage is exceptional customer service, which they extensively train their employees on. Zappos takes pride in the fact that 75% of their purchases come from existing customers3. One of the innovations they applied to the traditional service model was to stop measuring call times and focus on quality and transparency. • Mailchimp This world leader in email marketing software keeps surprising the digital industry with tons of new features every year, yet it manages to keep brand consistency across all business activities. How? By applying a user-centered design approach to everything they do, starting from the brand tone of voice to the user interface and development tools. 2 http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/100115/how-airbnb-grew-sf-loft-world-leader.asp 3 http://www.forbes.com/sites/languatica/2012/05/31/delivering-happiness-why-at-zappos-its-your-birthday-every-day/ What does ‘customer-centric’ mean?
  6. 6. 7 • TransferWise This London-based startup is a true disruption in the fintech industry - providing an exceptional level of design and business transparency, the company is fighting to simplify money transferring services across the world, intercepting millions of transactions from overpriced banking services. What does ‘customer-centric’ mean?
  7. 7. 8 WHY INVEST IN CUSTOMER- CENTRICITY?
  8. 8. 9 We are not suggesting that moving to a customer-focused design model is simple and most of us understand the pain of transformation even at the smallest degree. However the steps to change are often more effective when starting small and there are costs that can be difficult to track - shifting the paradigm of working may face resistance from employees who are used to working a certain way and have all their habits and procedures in place. Even though the early days of adjustment may be a challenge, applying customer- centric tactics will benefit everybody in the long run - your employees, the whole company and, most importantly, your customers. There are three main areas of benefits where your company can gain: BUILDING CUSTOMER RETENTION According to award-winning strategic marketing planner, Kathy Roy Gaughran, ”it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one”. Why invest in customer-centricity? Does fit into my world? How does it make me feel? Is this me? ...for a price that’s worthy it? does this do what I need? Functional Financial Identity Emotional Meaningful
  9. 9. 10 Customer retention is one of the areas that many companies struggle with, whilst substantially overspending on marketing campaigns, either in traditional media or digital channels, such as PPC. Improving the way you provide your services to your customers directly influences the way they perceive your business and they are more willing to stay with you, even when facing lower prices offered by your competitors. User-centric methodologies work perfectly for companies like MailChimp, who manage to keep over 10 million4 users happy and still paying - some of them have been using the same tool for years! This is because they managed to build a meaningful experience. 4 http://mailchimp.com/about/ Why invest in customer-centricity? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O94kYyzqvTc - ‘The ROI of User Experience with Dr. Susan Weinschenk’ video
  10. 10. 11 Nathan Shedroff, one of the pioneers of experience design, describes it as “one that reaches beyond the person’s functional, emotional and identity needs. It answers the key question of ‘Does this fit into my world?’ And if businesses focus on the meaning, and work from the centre out, the questions about price, performance, triggers and design decisions would sort out themselves”. The deeper you anchor your brand into the user’s life, the more sustainable relationship you will have and this is where the future of commercial success lies. REDUCE THE RISKS OF DEVELOPING INEFFECTIVE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Many business decisions are made in disconnection from the end user. Sometimes, what makes sense for the business may not make sense for the end customer. Therefore developing products without proper knowledge about who is going to use them, and how, is extremely risky. User-centered design provides frameworks for involving users throughout the design process, which allows to mitigate those risks. In the end, we are designing a product for them, not for ourselves. Redoing unusable products, especially physical ones may be extremely costly. The digital field allows for more flexibility - pushing a new update of your app may take a couple of weeks of work. However there is always a cost associated - designers, developers, project management. Savings resulting from a user-centered design process are concisely explained in this video, created by Dr. Susan Weinschenk, an expert in consumer psychology and user experience design: As you see, user-centered design can help you minimise the two major risks in your product/service design: • Solving the wrong problem • Executing the solution in the wrong way Why invest in customer-centricity?
  11. 11. 12 PROVIDING YOUR TEAM WITH A CLEAR VISION Most work environments are siloed and, for the sake of management, it makes a lot of sense. However sales, marketing, customer service or development teams often lack a common mission to fulfil. They are just working to meet their own department's goals, without focusing on the bigger picture. Becoming customer-centric can give your company a clear sense of direction and values. It can make sure that team members are not working to please their supervisors, but to please the customer. This approach has led companies such as Airbnb, Amazon and Zappos to take market-leading positions. Their employees, from the very first day at work, realise that they are working for the customer, that the customer pays their wages and funds their amazing offices.A study5 has shown that using a user-centered design methodology can increase employee effectiveness, and one of the factors to that is reducing stress related to making decisions. If you involve your users in design or business decisions regularly you have less variables to worry about when making a choice. Time you save on countless meetings and fights over small features is an added value. Having a common big picture is crucial in making people work together. User-centered strategy is organic - you cannot adjust every piece of it without influencing the other. This is why collaboration is its prerequisite. Effective collaboration means that more people will feel empowered and valued, further reducing organisational stress and isolation. 5 “A study of the role of user-centered design methods in design team projects” - Justin Lai, Tomonori Honda and Maria C. Yang (2010) Why invest in customer-centricity?
  12. 12. 13 A CUSTOMER-CENTRIC ECOSYSTEM
  13. 13. 14 When building a great product or service, you need to build a user-centric ecosystem of processes and people. It’s not a change you can effect in a couple of days, however some aspects of it can be implemented relatively quickly. At Pomegranate, we believe that such an ecosystem should be built on components such as: • Investment in understanding and designing for your customer • Innovation driven by users, not by the competition • Transparency instead of tricking users for short-term profits • Building a customer service infrastructure • Empowering every employee to be the voice of the customer • Constructing user knowledge sharing processes INVESTMENT IN UNDERSTANDING AND DESIGNING FOR YOUR CUSTOMER SPENDING TIME WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS - ETHNOGRAPHY Ethnography is a study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher attempts6 to observe society from the point of view of the subject of the study7 ”. It is a methodology widely used in the product or service design industry in order to conduct exploratory research. In our case, the subject of the study would be your customer base. This is the type of research that allows designers, marketers or anyone else to explore the world of the customer. Such exploration allows you to treat the customer as the starting point for any idea generation, ensuring that innovation is driven by their pains and needs. Ethnographic studies consist of three stages: preparation, research and analysis. 6 A subjective interpretation is always biased, as every individual sees the reality from his/her own perspective - Alberto Pias 7 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnography A customer-centric ecosystem
  14. 14. 15 All of them are equally important and can be conducted by following the best practices, however we couldn’t fit such an in depth topic into our short ebook. If you want to explore this and other research methods in a brief, concise form - refer to “Just Enough Research” by Erika Hall. Ethnographic studies involve pretty complicated research methods, therefore we recommend hiring professionals to conduct them. Over at Pomegranate, our team has experience in this type of research and are always excited to undertake new projects. Research plan A research plan is crucial in preparing a good study - you need to have a definition of the target group you want to explore, the high-level problem or topic you will discuss and observe. It’s also crucial to find relevant participants for the study - you don’t want to end up testing a disruptive gaming website with 60-year-olds… The research plan document is important as it gives your team (or external research team) a clear direction about what needs to be researched and helps get new people on board easier. Contextual inquiry Contextual inquiry is the most popular ethnographic method - it means interviewing your participants in their natural environment. It allows you to put everything they say in context and gather rich insights - you can observe their expressions, body language, tasks and the way they organise their environment and interact with it. Researchers gather huge volumes of data from this type of research and spend many days analysing it trying to find patterns that will be translated into actionable insights. Observation & shadowing Participant observation is incredibly useful for understanding dynamics in groups. Observation is integrated with note taking, which adds a layer of richness to interviews. These methods can be done by researchers who are not comfortable with interviewing, as it doesn’t require such skills. However, whoever you designate A customer-centric ecosystem
  15. 15. 16 to observe the customer should be very perceptive and focused on maximising results. For example, if you’re creating an application for ordering food, you can easily go to the most popular lunch franchise stores and observe how people interact with the employees and with the shop environment. However, if something doesn’t make sense, the researchers can always break the silence and ask for clarification. Interviews Interviewers need a particular set of skills and, of course, to have conducted solid preparation beforehand. It is always the best to hire professionals if you don’t have in-house researchers. However if you need to use a team member for that task, make sure that the person prefers listening to talking. You need to capture as much as possible without too much interference. A common mistake in conducting ethnographic interviews is setting a strict script to follow. With a script you have to follow there is no space for necessary improvisation. Open-ended questions and following up on the interviewee’s thoughts will make the conversation more organic and exploratory. When conducting an interview like this it’s important to look out for topics that are important to the interviewee, even if you have a list of keywords in your research plan. You need to let them speak and be prepared to follow their lead when necessary. Analysis Gathering all the qualitative data from ethnography is only half the job. Then it’s time to analyse all of the insights, look for patterns and construct conceptual models based on them. The best way to analyse insights is collaboration of a cross-functional team, as every field will find in different angle for the same findings. When all insights are analysed and made actionable, they should help you set base requirements foryour design process, no matter whether you’re designing a A customer-centric ecosystem
  16. 16. 17 website, a service or a physical product! REGULAR POLLS AND SURVEYS Polls and surveys, the most popular marketing research methods, are great tools to validate existing ideas. However they have limited capabilities in generating new ones. It’s always good to mix qualitative and quantitative research methods, therefore validating some initial insights and concepts is crucial to squeezing the most out of your research. Sometimes taglines or logos need to be researched and it may come down to selecting the tone of voice that resonates most with your target audience. However it’s important to remember that quantitative data won’t give you deep insights on WHY something is not working, it will just tell which versions are preferred or select one option from the list of reasons. It is important to bear in mind that within the quantitative approach, the researcher exerts a total control over respondent’s answers. That’s why it’s important to leave every research and testing study open for any type of input. In order to find the right sample of participants (you will need to do some calculations in regard to statistical confidence in order to build a sample that is representative, scalable and reproducible) you can either recruit them from your existing customer base, capture people’s data on your website or use an A customer-centric ecosystem Research findings structured after a great analysis ses- sion
  17. 17. 18 external recruitment agency. Just make sure you include incentives in your budget research, as not all of the participants will join the study for free! USER TESTING User testing is extremely important to truly see if the experience you’ve created resonates with the end user. You can observe how the audience interacts with the end product or service. The insights you gain are invaluable! Suddenly the taglines appear to be misunderstood, the button labels are confusing and the checkout doesn’t work the way every customer thought it should. User testing sessions are true eye-openers. For a lot of designers and developers, they may be depressing, however mature professionals will understand the power of user feedback and will harness it to deliver the best solutions possible. User testing recordings or reports are a great tool when trying to convince more senior stakeholders to invest in refining the experience. Excel spreadsheets might not always be enough! User testing can be useful in testing basically anything, not only digital experiences - you can record your audience interacting with physical products or more complicated touchpoints, in-store shopping or a car showroom. When doing user testing you can also invite your users to join the design process A customer-centric ecosystem HotJar allows you to recruit research participants straight from your website.
  18. 18. 19 - if something is not working, ask them to sketch their ideas out. You can always find something you can apply straight away or a bit of inspiration for future improvements. ENHANCE ANALYTICS This type of research will be specifically relevant for web, mobile or other digital experiences, as people have still not mastered gathering quantitative data from physical touchpoints. Although the qualitative data you gather from user testing is extremely insightful, sometimes it needs to be validated with quantitative information. People sometimes don’t tell the whole truth or exaggerate in order to give more socially acceptable answers. The behavioural data they generate on your website won’t lie - it’s objective. With modern web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, you can track metrics for basically anything - search terms, navigation, clicks, mouse hovering. The data can be expressed in a variety of ways - some of them will be easier to analyse than others. It’s important to analyse whether people click and go where we want them to. Data sheets, heatmaps and user recordings will help you understand what is happening in which sections of your digital experience. You can also test more complicated interactions - tracking how people use interactive elements of the website, such as filters or forms. Read more about the tools we use in UX projects. However, setting up goals, conversions and other necessary adjustments needs to be aligned to your business goals and activities - analysing everything and using only 5% of it is just a waste of time. Harnessing the right metrics can give your company substantial competitive advantage, as more and more companies use big data to inform and improve their offers and automate their management processes. INNOVATION DRIVEN BY USERS, NOT BY THE COMPETITION After understanding your users needs and problems, you will need to prioritise your offer components to fit them. A customer-centric ecosystem
  19. 19. 20 Especially in highly competitive markets, it may seem that launching a new feature on your website, just because your competitors don’t have it yet, makes sense. Insightful competitive audits are important, however you shouldn’t just take ideas from the competition for the same reason you shouldn’t cheat on exams - you don’t know if your classmate’s answers are correct. What may make sense to your competitor’s value proposition and their audience, won’t necessarily fit for your business. This approach leads to an overload of features and functions, often called featuritis. It was described by design guru Don Norman in his classic book Design of Everyday Things "Complexity probably increases as the square of the features: double the number of features, quadruple the complexity. Provide ten times as many features, multiply the complexity by one hundred"8 . It’s an extremely dangerous disease that infects companies who forget about the core principle of good design - minimalism. Google, AirBnb, Instagram, Twitter - all these businesses focus on polishing their simple, core proposition. From inception till now, these businesses haven’t been cheating on exams - they’ve been providing services that served particular needs and made satisfying them extremely easy. Featuritis is a deadly disease. If the top-priority information or functions on your website are hard to find due to clutter, users might just go and visit a competitor’s website. As the average search session length on mobile devices is 7.62 min9 , it is clear that users spend some time on opening multiple search results, rephrasing and filtering the search results. With search results working in milliseconds, it’s easier now more than ever for users to visit competitors’ websites. Minimalism may seem counter-intuitive and, to some extent, you need to keep up with the 8 The Design of Everyday Things - Don Norman (2013) 9 Exploring and Exploiting User Search Behavior on Mobile and Tablet Devices to Improve Search Relevance - Yang Song, Hao Ma, Hongning Wang, Kuansan Wang (2013) A customer-centric ecosystem
  20. 20. 21 market trends to stay afloat, however bear in mind that there is always a feature saturation point at which a website may stop being usable and start being annoying. TRANSPARENCY INSTEAD OF TRICKING USERS FOR SHORT-TERM PROFITS Transparency and honesty is a crucial factor of customer-centricity. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, times when globalisation kicked back and many disruptive, small companies managed to capture huge chunks of traditional markets such as hospitality or finance, these values are more important than ever. Customers, empowered by the easiness of expressing their feedback on online discussion boards, social media and review websites are, for the first time in A customer-centric ecosystem Softwares that suffer from featuritis often don’t have the features prioritised, which results in creating interfaces like this one
  21. 21. 22 history, able to make decisions informed by thousands of other consumers. The 2007 financial crisis has tremendously lowered trust towards banks and other financial institutions. A couple of years later smart fin-tech companies such as Simple Bank or Transferwise emerged. Differentiating themselves with user-centered design, simplicity of the offer and total transparency, they managed to become worldwide advocates of these values and role models for so many new startups. No hidden fees, lower transaction costs and minimal lock-in tactics - this is how many startups build customer’s trust. On the other hand, many businesses still apply so-called UX dark patterns. “A Dark Pattern is a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring A customer-centric ecosystem TransferWise are transparent with their fees and rates, which contrasts with traditional banking. Trustpilot is one of the most popular sources of consumer reviews.
  22. 22. 23 bills.”10 - that straightforward definition was written by Harry Brignull - the founder of the darkpatterns.org website, on which you can find carefully picked, diverse dark patterns from a variety of industries. The most common dark patterns are (some examples borrowed from darkpatternsorg): Forced continuity How many of us were incentivised by a free trial, signed up for a service and simply forgot to cancel the subscription before the trial ended? Some user-centric companies, such as Pact Coffee make it very obvious that you can cancel any time and push this information to you. Others, such as Amazon capitalise on their customers not realising what they just signed up for… Amazon incentivises users to sign up for a free trial of Prime at a very convenient time - during the checkout process, when you possibly need a faster delivery. Why not have it for free this time - you can cancel any time! Unfortunately millions of users apparently forget to cancel, as it was kept so low key when you originally signed up. Some companies make it really difficult to cancel subscriptions - they deliberately create barriers such as requiring the users to call them, spending hours on the phone, come to a local branch in person or even send printed forms via traditional 10 http://darkpatterns.org/ A customer-centric ecosystem The classic “Don’t Insure Me” dropdown from Ryanair.
  23. 23. 24 post services. These are of course dark patterns set up to capitalise on every day distractions that make us forget about our recurring payments. Trick phrasing In the era of lead generation and extensive email marketing, we are often tricked into subscribing to mailing lists. The example below from Sky makes it really confusing and counterintuitive. A similar pattern is probably known to millions of travellers around the world - Ryanair uses a lengthy, almost identical checkbox label. The famous airline was using a similar pattern to trick users into signing up for insurance. In the latest redesign, Ryanair decided to become more user-friendly, and finally stopped using it. What we’re talking about is the famous “Don’t insure me” dropdown option. Sneak into basket This practice, officially pronounced illegal in the UK11 last year, is still being used by businesses around the world. This pattern consists in adding items to shopping baskets and forcing the user to remove them, in order to avoid extensive purchase. One of the biggest UK retailers, SportsDirect has been practising this for years, sneaking a magazine and a mug into your basket for £1. 11 http://www.90percentofeverything.com/2014/08/26/some-dark-patterns-now-illegal-in-uk-interview-with-heather-burns/ A customer-centric ecosystem Trick phrasing used by Sky.
  24. 24. 25 The same practice is very common for Microsoft Windows users - almost every free software installation tries to trick unsuspecting users into installing browser plug-ins or other softwares that in the end may result in clogging up your PC’s memory. Using dark patterns may have a tremendous impact on your business. At first you may note revenue spikes however, within the following months or years, your customers may become irritated and simply jump to the competition, even if their prices are higher and their support is not as complete. Transparency is a very important value in today’s online world. Any tricks applied will quickly be picked up, shared and may result in more virality than many online campaigns… BUILDING A CUSTOMER SERVICE INFRASTRUCTURE Every customer wants to feel special and a part of how this can be achieved is great customer service. Dealing with special requests and complaints, especially in the UK, is the daily bread of many companies. It is a prerequisite that at least a basic form of customer service should be present in any business, especially service based ones. Current trends12 show that consumers are becoming more demanding in regard to customer service and especially value the time they spend on resolving problems. 12 Trends 2015: The Future Of Customer Service - Forrester Research, Inc. (2015) A customer-centric ecosystem Sports Direct has mastered the art of sneaking items to basket.
  25. 25. 26 To meet these needs companies need to understand that customers are starting to demand customer support across several channels, to fit their ever-changing environment. Some may prefer to make a call to a call centre and resolve the problem immediately. For others, email or text is the quickest way, as they may be too busy with a meeting and work all day. On the other hand, support also needs to be timely and contextual - that is why more and more online stores and services implement live chats and knowledge centres (or FAQs) on their websites. A rich knowledge base or FAQ section on a website is an extremely useful tool - the more self-help you provide your customers with, the lower your customer service cost is going to be. Empowering users to deal with their problems themselves may also have a positive impact on their feelings towards the company - they will feel a sense of accomplishment and may praise the company for being predictive of their needs and problems. Live chats are an extremely efficient way to deal with customer requests, especially if your customer base is young and used to communicating that way - it has been shown that 56% of 18-34 year olds prefer live chat to phone13 . With the variety of easy-to-implement tools (take a look at LiveChat, Zopim or Intercom) any company can start using them within hours. They are usually very cost-effective, as the subscription plans are low and your agents can serve multiple customers at the same time, especially when using response macros (answer templates to use in 13 http://blog.zoomint.com/blog/live-chat-is-it-right-for-your-customer-service-program A customer-centric ecosystem Mailchimp offers an extensive self-help section for their customers.
  26. 26. 27 conversations). We have written an article on getting the most out of your live chat feature - feel free to have a read! If you want to consolidate various support channels into one system, there are many traditional CRM systems that will enable you to achieve this. That said, in an era of cloud-based services, old, cumbersome CRM softwares can often be too dated to fit into the modern, dynamic world. Some of the best complete support solutions out there are Desk and Zendesk. These tools allow you to integrate a number of channels - email, phone, VoIP or live chat - and to manage support tickets from all of them by the same agents. These platforms allow full transparency and reporting and are very easy to implement and integrate with 3rd party applications and systems - Zendesk takes pride in being able to communicate with over 350 apps! Of course even the best tools won’t replace proper training and responsiveness determined by a company’s culture and environment. Customer support consultants should be trained not only in the company’s offer and practices, but also in managing stressful situations and understanding the business environment. Many businesses have close competition or difficult legislation - these topics shouldn’t come as a surprise to a consultant when being asked the question by customer. Some consultants actually find nothing surprising - at Zappos.com you can even ask the customer service team to order a pizza for you! EMPOWERING EVERY EMPLOYEE TO BE THE VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER Throughout recent User Experience industry conferences, a recurring topic has been emerging: Everybody is a UX designer. By that, we understand an approach that almost everybody in the company directly, or indirectly, influences the end user. Designers create interfaces users work with, developers build these interfaces, making them as reliable and as quick as possible. Sales representatives are often one of the first touch points customers have with your company and A customer-centric ecosystem
  27. 27. 28 customer service teams are helping customers solve their problems and building retention. Especially in strongly siloed organisational structures, it is extremely difficult to create a culture where everybody can speak their mind. The sales team are conflicted with the marketing function, designers are working in isolation from the rest of the company, keeping the insights they gather to themselves. Often the best discoveries are made by the customer service team. It is important that they aren’t isolated, spending the whole day with their headsets on. Customer service is often the most important voice representing your company, and the way they deal with situations will be projected onto how the whole company is working. They need to feel that they are a part of the strategy that shapes the way the company works. The insights they bring shouldn’t just be held in your CRM and with the customer service team leader. They should be passed on to the company horizontally. The same might be applied to other departments and positions - the sales team is on the front, often gathering insights from new audience profiles, testing messaging and adjusting the sales proposition according to the feedback they get. These are all valid insights that shouldn’t be kept within their department - they should be fed into the whole company, in order to build even richer customer profiles (personas). Building these profiles and aggregating knowledge from all of the touchpoints that occur between your company and your customers will be crucial in making your company more user-centric. Empowering your employees to build that knowledge themselves with not only motivate them and make them feel they have influence in the company, but will also give a 360-degree view of your customers, relevant to so many aspects of your strategy. In order to drive this approach, Zappos created company-wide culture books that express their approach and encourage employees to follow it in order to provide the best customer service in the world. A customer-centric ecosystem
  28. 28. 29 CONSTRUCTING USER KNOWLEDGE SHARING PROCESSES If all your employees are empowered to share, it could result in a storm of unstructured information flowing through your systems and offices - random noise patterns will emerge but they risk not being turned into actionable insights if nobody takes responsibility for doing it. In user-centric companies there is usually a design research team; however, research and design are often outsourced in search of efficiencies and focused expertise. It is important that somebody in the company - be it marketing, development or operations - takes responsibility for managing the sum of the user knowledge gathered and turns it into actionable insights. Ideally it should be a team or a person who has authority to influence strategic decisions, as those decisions are often made in total disconnection from the end user. At Amazon, such a person is called a... Customer Experience Bar Raiser (pretty descriptive job title, isn’t it?). The knowledge gathered needs to be consolidated in order to build a great Customer Experience - even if it’s used throughout the company, but in a siloed way, it may enhance certain touchpoints, but it won’t drive the CX strategy. In order to see the bigger picture you need to create a culture that supports Connected UX, a term coined by Aaron Walter, UX Director at MailChimp. He has built a culture of user knowledge sharing and it brought tremendous improvements to the whole company. “From the insights we’re gleaning come new, research-driven strategies for our company. That’s new for us, and it’s completely changed the way we work in just a few short months. It’s made us a smarter company and has helped us create more informed design strategies. We no longer lose research, and we’re all more aware of the collective knowledge we possess. What we’re building is more than just connected data—it’s a connected company.”14 - Aaron Walter There are a number of tactics you can employ in order to create knowledge sharing processes in your business: MAKING EVERYBODY A RESEARCHER 14 http://alistapart.com/article/connected-ux A customer-centric ecosystem
  29. 29. 30 At Amazon, every employee is required to spend some time working as a customer service consultant - after some basic training, they can help users and take their voices in the back of their mind back to their usual offices. At Google, cross-functional teams go out to do field research - teams often consist of designers, researchers, developers, marketing or operations teams. Everyone can be involved in researching and analysing findings, even if it means travelling to India, as they did when designing a new transport app for Delhi. MAKING RESEARCH FINDINGS VISIBLE IN THE OFFICE Knowledge can be shared digitally or physically - the former, according to Jeffrey Zundel, User Experience Architect from Eventbrite, is not enough: “Trying to keep track of another link or trying to remember "where is that digital space for research finds" is a tall order. We've found that the single best way to get findings in front of the whole organization is simply to put it on the wall.15 ” Mailchimp teams deal with it in a similar manner by sticking persona posters and other materials in areas commonly visited by various teams, like the kitchen area. 15 https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-most-effective-ways-to-share-user-research-findings-across-your-company Mailchimp persona posters A customer-centric ecosystem
  30. 30. 31 HOSTING REGULAR KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE EVENTS Both Eventbrite and Mailchimp research teams host regular internal events - presentations that highlight key findings from user research which are then discussed with team members of different functions, trying to understand the value of the findings from many angles. The Gov.uk team also notes who couldn’t attend the presentations and looks for opportunities to play them back at a later time. HARNESSING DIGITAL TOOLS TO SHARE INSIGHTS TO RELEVANT TEAMS More and more workplaces are becoming interconnected with IT and cloud-based systems. Not many companies use physical filing systems to store data about projects. Although posters and post-its are brilliant tools to express concepts, they lack the longevity and searchability of digital data. In order to pool data into one central hub, you will need flexible and efficient tools - tools that can be used by multiple users at the same time and stay stable when facing extensive storage. Some of the popular cloud-sharing and communication platforms currently used are: Google Drive, Evernote, Basecamp, Huddle or Trello. All of them support multi-users, multimedia content, email support etc. Basically they are all ready and set to help you create your own infrastructure within hours. Constraints of the traditional form of email communication doesn’t make it the best way to discuss concepts, images, documents and videos at the same time. In order to manage spontaneous inputs of data and easy sharing capabilities, you will need to start looking into more advanced team collaboration and communication tools. A customer-centric ecosystem
  31. 31. 32 FINAL THOUGHTS We hope this has proved a useful read and will help you understand the value of a customer-centric strategy and ways to implement it. Of course this is just an overview of the topic - a full understanding of the abovementioned techniques and methods requires years of expertise to master. The single most important thing you can do in order to share your enthusiasm about this approach is to talk to your team. Brainstorm ways you can improve the company you work for, prioritise some ideas and start implementing - from the smallest steps to full integration of activities. In order to truly affect any company, the methods should be applied across all departments. However, improving the quality of just one of them will have an impact and allow you to win territory inch by inch. The Pomegranate team takes pride in the user-centered design approach that we promote to every client we work with. We have a proven record of success in branding, which allowed us to seamlessly transition into the field of experience design. A multinational team of passionates that love working together and solving complex problems. If you are simply an enthusiast of this approach, or if your company applies some of the methods we’ve mentioned, please contact us and share your story. We will be happy to pass it on further. If you have any questions or enquiries regarding customer-centric strategy, please get in touch with us. SEE OUR WEBSITE SEE CASE STUDIES
  32. 32. 33 References: • http://www.mindtheproduct.com/2014/02/be-user-centered-not-user-led/ • E-consultancy report: Customer Experience Statistics Compendium October 2014 • http://blog.invisionapp.com/inside-design-treehouse/ • http://blog.invisionapp.com/inside-design-gopro/ • http://blog.invisionapp.com/inside-the-design-team-at-buzzfeed/ • http://blog.invisionapp.com/designspace-airbnb-chad-thornton/ • Zendesk a. http://blog.invisionapp.com/designspace-zendesk-amir-hadjihabib/ b. https://www.zendesk.com/blog/closer-look-search-perfect-search-experience/ • Exploring and Exploiting User Search Behavior on Mobile and Tablet Devices to Improve Search Relevance - Yang Song, Hao Ma, Hongning Wang, Kuansan Wang (2013) • The Design of Everyday Things - Don Norman (2013) • https://transferwise.com/ • AirBnb • Mailchimp • Zendesk • TransferWise • Simple Bank • https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-most-effective-ways-to- share-user-research-findings-across-your-company • http://alistapart.com/article/seeing-the-elephant-defragmenting-user-research • http://alistapart.com/article/connected-ux • http://www.myfeelback.com/en/blog/customer-centric-lessons-amazon • https://userresearch.blog.gov.uk/2014/05/29/5-ways-
  33. 33. 34 to-help-user-research-work-better-in-agile/ • http://www.healthcaresuccess.com/blog/doctor-marketing/retention- vs-acquisition-the-power-of-patient-relationships.html • http://www.thedrum.com/industryinsights/2015/10/28/ what-does-meaningful-ux-experience-really-mean • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O94kYyzqvTc • A study of the role of user-centered design methods in design team projects - Justin Lai, Tomonori Honda and Maria C. Yang (2010) • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User-centered_design • http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/100115/ how-airbnb-grew-sf-loft-world-leader.asp • http://www.slideshare.net/Thor/zappos-lessons- building-a-customerfocused-culture • “Just enough research” - Erika Hall (2013) • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnography • http://www.forbes.com/sites/languatica/2012/05/31/delivering- happiness-why-at-zappos-its-your-birthday-every-day/

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