Experience Design can not only differentiate your business from competitors, but can lead to innovative problem-solving, a more creative and inclusive environment for customers and team members, stronger loyalty, and increased revenue.
We all know that providing a great customer experience is critical for eCommerce. The stats speak for themselves:
89% of businesses compete primarily on the basis of customer experience.
73% of consumers say that CX is a deciding factor when making purchase decisions.
42% of customers would not mind paying more when offered a warm and friendly customer experience.
Now more than ever, the employee experience also impacts customer satisfaction (and therefore revenue). An article by the Harvard Business Review extensively unpacked this correlation, noting that on a 1 to 5 scale of employee satisfaction, for everyone one level improvement, there was a corresponding improvement of anywhere from 8% to 19% in long-term market valuation.
Yet in an omnichannel world, experiences are ever-evolving. Customer journeys are increasingly complex, and can be hard to understand, let alone improve. Truly successful businesses can no longer rely on innovations alone (and often innovations developed in a vacuum) to bring customers to their digital and literal doors. Rather, smart companies are digging into and delivering on customer and team member experiences to drive that innovation.
Wired describes it this way: “The successful businesses will be the ones that learn to navigate the most efficient course, keep the passengers happiest, build faster engines, all while keeping the plane in the air.”
Understanding Experience Design
It all comes down to Experience Design, or using a deep understanding of how a user’s experience impacts everything, from product design, to marketing, to customer service. It works for any experience, whether that’s how a customer navigates your eCommerce site, or how you craft workplace policies to best support team members.
Experience Design puts people at the heart of all of your decisions, so that you create experiences that solve problems, drive behaviors, and even elicit emotional connections and responses that build loyalty. It’s an outside-in approach versus the old school inside-out methods. It’s about not just shaping something that makes a user’s life easier, but shaping how that user feels.
Good Experience Design asks user-centered questions and is an on-going, ever-evolving and improving process. There is testing and iterating, collecting user feedback and incorporating it, and adapting to new user expectations and behavior-shifting events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
At its core, Experience Design is about empathy. If you understand and care about the problems your users face, you are better positioned to solve them.
The Impact of Experience Design
Experience Design is a Mindset Shift
Experience Design, when fully embraced, should impact your entire company’s thought processes.
While many incorporate Experience Design into product development and UX teams, focusing on developing products and paths-to-purchase that meet user demands, far fewer companies adopt it holistically. This prevents enterprises from developing a culture that is truly Experience Design driven.
Experience Design Applies to All Teams
In actuality, all teams within an organization can benefit from approaching things with an Experience Design mindset. For example, HR teams can consider how to enhance remote or hybrid work experiences to best meet employee needs. Or perhaps they examine the employee experience and determine what barriers there are to success. Maybe your workforce needs childcare solutions or more flexible schedules in order to deliver the best results.
Customer Experience teams can assess where pain points are for customers. Perhaps your buyers really don’t want to interact with a live person unless they need help. And then they definitely don’t want to deal with chatbots or automated emails, they want a real person who picks up the phone.
Marketing teams may recognize that customers prefer video tutorials on how to use products rather than instructional PDFs. Product Development teams may utilize user feedback to improve the next iteration of a product.
The applications are endless - and have a deep impact on all aspects of an enterprise - thus affecting customer satisfaction, employee experience, and ultimately revenue, all while further enhancing creative solutions and consequently driving innovation.
Experience Design Enhances
The beauty of Experience Design is that it doesn’t result in sacrificing innovation, rather, it ensures that innovations have more impact than ever before. It takes innovation deeper, thinking about everything you are creating with the end user’s experience in mind.
Similarly, Experience Design doesn’t replace brand strategy. Instead, it helps businesses identify the value their brand offers, and how they can further expand that value, define that value, and articulate that value to customers in ways that differentiate the brand and make it the go-to solution for consumers.
Tools of the Trade
It’s hard to empathize with your user if you don’t know them. Fortunately, most people want to be heard, and there are all kinds of tools that can help your business gather useful insights from users.
But beyond just gathering user insights and feedback, Experience Design tools should also help you to:
Gather feedback from the appropriate stakeholders and sources - this should include your customer base as well as your employees, but also insights on larger-scale trends, patterns, and emerging challenges and expectations. Don’t just rely on your sources, tap into the knowledge of industry experts.
Share information seamlessly and quickly - we live in a world where nearly infinite amounts of data is available at our fingertips. Getting the right data in front of the right teams in easy, usable formats is key. Doing it quickly and accurately is even more so.
Determine next steps - good tools will also help you analyze data from multiple sources, and apply analytics that can help you hone in on which opportunities are worth pursuing.
Developing Successful Experience Design
Depending on who you ask, there are different key components in developing successful Experience Design. And while the categorization and terms may vary slightly by source, the core concepts remain the same.
As previously acknowledged, good Experience Design places empathy for users at the heart of the process. Enterprises need to not only understand their users and their users’ needs, but also the challenges those users face, the emotions that drive the decision-making, and other elements that shape who their users are.
This involves research, understanding, and programs for soliciting and incorporating feedback. Shifting our thinking from “what product can we sell?” to “what problem can we solve?” reframes the way we approach innovation and customer service.
It also means designing experiences for everybody. Whether that’s accessible website design or marketing campaigns that are representative of diverse global audiences, good experience design is universal experience design.
Once you know your target audience’s problems, motivations, and viewpoints, you need to define exactly how you can address them, and identify new ways of doing so. This involves challenging accepted standards and thinking creatively about innovation.
Use this stage for brainstorming and abandoning outdated assumptions. It's about designing experiences, not features.
For example, rather than focusing on increasing orders, focus on identifying customer pain points and solving them. Maybe the way to increase orders is to alleviate long delivery waits by focusing on a faster order fulfillment experience.
Armed with ideas, you now have to see what solutions will work in actuality versus just on paper. Testing can be done in small, inexpensive ways simply to garner if it’s worth pursuing an idea in a more robust way. Once you have enough information gathered from a small-scale test or prototype to test it broadly, do so. Be sure to gather feedback throughout the test and iterate as needed.
Where applicable, pay attention to the technology you choose to use to deliver your solutions. Is it easy to navigate? Is it fast? Is it flexible and adaptable so that when user needs change, you can also change? These are important questions to ask.
Experience Design in Action
Let’s look at a few Case Studies on Experience Design.
The first example is the case of ridesharing apps, like Uber and Lyft. Uber’s origin story is that of its frustrated founder trying in vain to hail a cab one rainy evening. What if the struggle of finding a taxi on a busy weekend, in bad weather, or even in locations that weren’t metropolitan enough to merit a cab service could be solved? What if rides could be scheduled in advance, ordered on-demand, and came to you - wherever you may be? What if you didn’t need cash, and could predict the cost of a ride before accepting it?
These questions put ridesharing companies directly in their potential users’ shoes, solving problems in an innovative way, and empathizing with the challenges customers often experienced.
And in recent years, when people were forced to stay home due to the pandemic and ridesharing was declining due to lack of travel, Uber pivoted their product model to incorporate UberEats - on-demand food delivery. Thus, Uber solved a new and different problem for both those at home who wanted takeaway but perhaps couldn’t get to their favorite spot, and restaurants who suddenly had to rely solely on carryout to sustain them, and find new ways of getting their food into hungry customers’ hands.
As a broke student backpacking across the world, the soon-to-be founder lost his glasses. Not only was it extremely expensive to replace them, but it wasn’t easy to do. It required going to an optometrist and trying on numerous pairs. Fast forward a few years, and Warby Parker - which allows you to order glasses to try-on at home, at a very affordable rate - was born.
Once again, an industry-disrupting company was created by addressing longstanding challenges in a new and innovative way that empathized with barriers (accessibility, affordability) to potential customers.
Award-Winning Experience Design for a Global Telecommunications Company
At Object Edge, we often partner with enterprises to craft Experience Design that has an impact. One such example is our work with a global telecommunications company.
For over 90 years, this global manufacturer has supplied telecommunication equipment and software to law enforcement, emergency response teams, and other organizations worldwide.
Due to its global reach, the businesses wanted to create a modern, interactive landing page experience to showcase its new, cutting-edge radio technology. They needed to demonstrate the device’s features and capabilities digitally rather than in-person, thus reaching their widespread audience in the most convenient way possible, all without sacrificing any of the benefits of in-person interaction.
In order to replicate the critical aspects of an in-person demo, Object Edge built interactive landing pages leveraging 3D models and prototypes-to-page to provide an immersive experience that matched the product’s "top tier" position. A combination of 2D and 3D features brought the product to life on screen and reflected the product’s design and software functionalities.
Experience Design can not only differentiate your business from competitors, but can lead to innovative problem-solving, a more creative and inclusive environment for customers and team members, stronger loyalty and improved satisfaction, and ultimately increased revenue.
Focus on experiences, not features, products, marketing campaigns, or even technology, empathize with your users, and put people at the heart of your processes, and you’ll reap the rewards of Experience Design.
Not sure how to get started or interested in learning more? Reach out to the team of experts at Object Edge for a free consultative call. With over twenty years of experience in solving complex digital challenges, we're excited to help.
About the Author
VP, Marketing Global
Sarah is a nimble and creative marketing leader with 15 years of experience in a mix of agencies, B2B, and B2C enterprises. She brings a background in building and driving impactful marketing practices and processes for growing businesses. Sarah has expertise in brand, content marketing, lead generation, and marketing operations. She’s a co-author of the 2019 book on B2B eCommerce Digital Branch Secrets: eCommerce Playbook for Distributors.