Sign up to get full access to all our latest content, research, and network for everything customer contact.

Experience Design Emerging As Top Consumer Preference: Here’s How To Play The Game

A CCW Digital Analysis

Matt Wujciak

user experience

Everyone knows that brands who prioritize customer experience (Verizon, Amazon, Zappos, Chick-fil-A, Microsoft, etc.) are more likely to differentiate from their competitors, enjoy greater long term brand loyalty and dominate their respective markets. 

Read More: Special Report Series: Omnichannel Chatbots (Sponsored by Salesforce)

McKinsey & Company study of 300 companies analyzed over five years shows that those who prioritize and excel at, specifically “design” (i.e. product design or experience design), increased their revenues and total returns to shareholders (TRS) substantially faster than their peers (with a 32% increase in revenue). 

Navigating experience design

As seen in a CCW market study, “experience design” was rated the #1 customer contact focus, above other popular topics like artificial intelligence and automation. 

Why? Experience design encompasses these operational efficiencies of a brand to enhance the overall customer experience. 

Read More: Special Report Series: Customer Experience as a Service

AI and automation are merely tools. Experience design allows these tools to make a favorable impact for employees and consumers.

As seen in my last article featuring insights from Verizon VP Kelley Kurtzman, a prime example of experience design includes Verizon leveraging a new natural language processing tool, known as the Digital Worker to improve their customer experience model. 

Verizon has saved 10,000 worker hours per month since the second quarter of last year. Additionally, Verizon can now respond to certain customer requests in seconds rather than hours, with greater than 99 percent accuracy to boot (with a plan in place for the remaining fraction of a percent). 

Read More: Q&A With TGI Friday's Chief Experience Officer

The design of this experience allows for more efficient work (saving time and money) on Verizon’s end and serving customers more effectively on the consumer end (reducing transfer time and increasing solution accuracy). The Digital Worker is merely a component of Verizon’s “experience design.”

Whether it’s pinpointing optimal automation technologies in the IT or contact center, interactive kiosks and gamification in retail stores, or TikTok social media promotions in the fast-food industry, it’s time to start thinking about the design of experience, the impact it has on brand reputation and how it’s affecting ROI, or ROX (return on experience).

Instilling a UX mentality 

 “Call center agents [as one example] will continue to have more tools and technology available to support customers; their roles are evolving to be more high-touch rather than transactional, as self-service tools will take care of the low touch items,” Alison Lichtenstein, Head of Experience Design at Dow Jones recently told me. 

Read More: Verizon Capitalizing On Automation and Humanization With VP, Kelley Kurtzman

To her point, technology is becoming an exponentially greater part of employees’ daily activities, from front line agents and sales reps in private start-ups to strategic executives and VP’s in Fortune 100’s. 

Yet, we’re currently experiencing a worldwide shortage of technical/digital experience designers, such as User Experience (UX) designers (with the demand for this skillset outpacing supply at a tremendous rate). In fact, UX design was even ranked in NBC’s top 5 hard skills in demand in 2019. 

Put simply, experience design and digital user experience are so important that the workforce can’t get enough of these skills.

As Kelley Kurtzman told me, “It’s really how you take that automation with timely human assistance and marry those together. I think that’s a home run.”

Prioritizing these skills in the hiring process is an easy solution. But instilling them in current employees is a great way to introduce and enhance design thinking in your organization, just like Verizon and Dow Jones have in the past decade. 

Offering UX training and optional workshops to current staff members, for example, can engage your employees, generate innovative design thinking in your brand, improve creativity and synergy and at the very least, help your employees think more like a customer. Upskilling your current team can also give employees a greater sense of value, decreasing turnover rates and long term training costs. 

Spotting technical issues

UX design is a problem-solving discipline that identifies customer issues and helps create digital tools and software to overcome those issues. Put simply, UX is how it feels when you use a product or service medium, like certain software or digital tools. (i.e. How do Verizon customers feel when they interact with the Digital Worker to expedite customer service inquiries? Pretty good, I assume). 

Focusing on experience design branches like UX allows you to locate and eliminate technical issues. These are problems with the functionality or usability of a website, rather than the actual content. These could be minor, like a confusing call to action, too many fields needed to complete an online form or navigate content.

CCW Digital Principal Analyst Brian Cantor and I recently gave a few presentations and workshops at CCW Nashville on a similar topic. One (summarized) hypothetical scenario presented was pretending you run a media business where the abundance of random topics on a web platform was hurting customer satisfaction -- and leading to decreased subscription rates.

This is a classic example of a UX technical issue resulting in a real world, common pain point in the digital media industry.

(Think about it. When you read the WSJ online, are you scrolling through hundreds of topics on their home page? Of course not. There’s 12 listed. Similarly, the Harvard Business Review has 11, with a “subjects” feature that takes you to over 100 topics to scroll through if you so chose).

 “Deleting” UX pain points

The solution to the scenario was to rethink the brand’s UX strategy, decreasing content categories on the website, and offering personalized packages based on subscribers’ data, interests and recorded consumer behavior.  

The most common UX pain point, however, is a question that must be answered before a customer is willing to complete a transaction. This doesn’t necessarily mean a sale. It can also mean registering interest in a product, downloading whitepapers or eBooks or signing up for a free trial.

To detect potential pain points or deal breakers, businesses should carry out qualitative research with their target audience and select consumer personas. The objective here is to uncover any psychological barriers so you can delete these pain points from the experience design. 

This is a key component of the UX design process, tailoring solutions based on actionable consumer analytics. 

Read More: Putting Employees At The Heart Of Your Business (With Annette Franz)

Experience design encompasses operational efficiencies (like AI, automation or digital UX tools) to enhance the customer experience. Brands that can incorporate this mentality throughout their corporate culture are the ones you see consistently described in the news as “customer centric.”