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Digital, Design and CX: What does it all mean?

Understand what Customer Experience, Digital and Design are and how your organisation can thrive.

Published on
July 29, 2020

Over the last decade Customer Experience (CX), Digital Transformation and Design Thinking have each been claimed as a true differentiator for leading organisations. Today, with their popularity increasing, these phrases are now merging, being used interchangeably and collectively as the keys to success.

However, the reality is that there is no one silver bullet to solve all the world’s problems - neither one nor all can single handedly transform or innovate your organisation.

Before launching into your latest customer strategy, you first need to take the time to understand what Customer Experience, Digital and Design Thinking are and how they fit together, in order to achieve the best outcome for your customers and your organisation.

Technology alone is not enough, Digital Transformation requires thoughtful consideration of customer and employee needs

Technology is moving faster than ever before and customer expectations are constantly changing. New opportunities to digitise interactions are surfacing every day, which can cause businesses to believe that they need to transform their entire organisation towards digital. However, there are some key things to remember before jumping head first into your next digital transformation:

Humans are complex. As businesses decide to digitise their experience, they move quickly creating digital solutions they believe their customers need. More often than not, they create solutions which are not considered, have poor usability, and don’t actually help customers with what they need. Low adoption, wasted investment and poor customer experience is often the result.

‘Digital’ is just one channel within a much larger customer experience ecosystem. While it's true that some customers are looking for ways to interact digitally, your customer base and their needs are far more diverse than you realise. More commonly, customers desire an omni-channel experience that has a consistent look and feel throughout their journey. Focusing on communications and the way your organisation communicates with customers is key to building consistency.

While you may be thinking it's time to improve your operations and service offerings via Digital Transformation, or perhaps you have already started, the first step in delivering a truly delightful experience for your customers is putting yourself in your their shoes and understanding the experience from their perspective. Empathy and Design Thinking are core to being able to achieve this.

Design enables the whole team to walk in your customers shoes and solve the problems they actually have

Applying a Design Thinking approach to your Digital Transformation will ensure you develop a deep understanding of customers and their needs before putting pen to paper and investing in costly tech solutions.

When using Design Thinking, you step away from the solution to understand the people impacted. This allows you to reframe the problem in a human-centric way, resulting in solutions that are truly customer focussed. This reduces business risk and increases customer satisfaction in the long run. It maximises the chance of adoption.

To effectively apply Design Thinking to your Digital Transformation or business problem, there are some things to remember:

Design thinking requires talented people who are able to think both creatively and critically. Many businesses fail on their design thinking and digital transformation journeys, getting stuck at the research phase or struggling to make tangible change. The most effective teams are multi-disciplinary, spanning both research, design, implementation and business skills. These individuals and teams can wear many hats and help push your organisation over the hurdles where you usually get stuck.

'Design Thinking' is just one way of solving the problem. Although Design Thinking is often referred to as the key to business success, it is important to leverage other thinking and problem solving methods which allow you to look at problems from different perspectives. Systems Thinking is just one example which allows you to look at the broader ecosystem to understand how everything fits together and interrelates. Structured Thinking is another.

Even with Design Thinking, you need to think beyond the interaction (or digital touchpoint) to effectively innovate and transform. Customer touch points and interactions are part of a much wider ecosystem and customer experience. It involves employees, processes, communications, customer promises - the list goes on. To deliver a truly delightful experience for all customers, you need to develop a holistic understanding of your customer's end-to-end journey and the ecosystem it sits within.

While Design Thinking is one effective approach to help you understand your customer's needs and deliver Digital Transformations, to be most successful the holistic Customer Experience needs to be considered.

Customer Experience can be supported by Digital Transformation, but not replaced by it

Customer Experience is how a customer feels before, during, and after they do business with you. Customers interact both directly and indirectly with your company - from the moment they hear about your product, to searching for it on your website, tracking their order progress, and even the speed of refund resolution should they change their mind. Every touchpoint and every person in your company makes an impact.

CX Excellence is a result of creating emotional bonds with your customers. These bonds are created by getting to know your customers, making things easy, delivering on your promise, fixing things when they go wrong and building trust. Building this emotional bond doesn't occur at one touch point or after one interaction, it's created over time. By creating CX Excellence you will improve customer retention, brand advocacy, staff engagement, and profits (CX Academy 2020).

To achieve CX excellence it's important to remember:

Everyone in your organisation has an impact. It’s important customers' interactions are co-designed with all the people who will be impacted by its rollout. This could be anyone and everyone connected to your customers - from your finance department to IT support, customer service to sales. Co-designing not only helps to design holistic solutions, but is also useful in breaking down silos and unifying everyone around a common customer goal.

Your communications is the face of your Customer Experience and it's important to get it right. Creating consistency in digital-to-customer communications is easy enough. Where the challenge usually lies, is in creating a common tone of voice, language and empathetic messaging across all channels, as well as between your staff and customers.

While Digital is important, Customer Experience should be the driver for improvement. Successful Digital Transformations come from a need to improve the Customer Experience - providing convenience, speed, ease and efficiency for your customers.

Providing customers with a pleasant customer experience is an objective that should be woven into the fabric of every department in your organisation, and the outcomes of your organisation's Digital Transformation can support it but shouldn't replace it.

Customer experience is the end goal, and your approach needs to be strategic

So while your journey may have been kick-started by the push for Digital Transformation, the destination you are aiming to arrive at is actually an emotional bond between you and your customers, otherwise known as Customer Experience.

Great Customer Experience comes from looking holistically at your customer's journey, understanding customer and employee needs, and using technologies where possible to co-design, test, and implement great interactions that result in the best possible outcome for your customers, your employees, and your organisation.

Whether it is Digital, Design or Customer Experience your approach to each needs attention, consideration, and a strong strategy. They have the opportunity to be your ultimate competitive advantage, and achieve your purpose. So keep your eyes on the road, stay focussed on the customer at all times and your organisation will thrive.

Speak with an expert

Lauren Terry
Head of Design
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