Becoming an Experience-Minded Organization
We all know by now that ‘experience’ is important - the customer experience (CX), the user experience (UX), and the organizational experience (OX). For organizations to begin to compete, much less win in today’s digital world, organizations must create experiences that engage and delight individuals from all touchpoints in the customer journey. These must be managed in addition to maintaining a focused commitment to the mission, vision, and values of the organization.
When your organization embraces an experience mindset, typically it possesses the following nine characteristics:
- Empathy for People - When you are designing for people, you are focused on the experience. Human-centered design best practices seek to understand the people that use your products and services and build solutions to support their needs. When you do this, you’ll create products and services with high engagement value, high rates of adoption, and decreased maintenance costs.
- Research Discipline - When research is user focused, you uncover opportunities for new customer acquisition, lower support costs, increase customer retention, and increase market share. Embracing research as a core discipline allows you to approach initiatives with a sense of exploration and wonder. High-level business needs can be balanced with an open and unscripted perspective. Through research and analysis, solutions that are on-point with the needs of the user and the employee begin to present themselves.
- Cross-Organizational Teams - Teams will look beyond disciplines and silos to understand the impact of experiences across the organization. Your customer shouldn’t experience your organization through its siloed business units. By focusing on your customer instead of individual business goals, your organization can work cross-functionally with multiple departments to provide experiences from the customer’s point of view. In this scenario, you look at all interactions holistically rather than as individual experiences. Your organization is actively working across departments on priorities of the customer or employee, rather than department goals.
- Active and Ongoing Dialog with Customers and Employees - When you’re experience-minded, you understand the customer relationship is more than a moment in time. To truly understand the experience of your customer, it’s best if you have multiple ways to actively engage with your customers through their experiences. This means having points of engagement through multiple channels to create a relationship with your customers, rather than having the customer be just another transaction.
- Executive Drive and Commitment to CX - When you commit to an experience focus, you understand that commitment to a better CX must be the priority of every employee. This includes everyone, from the executive, to front-line staff. Executive passion and commitment to improving your customer’s experience will positively impact the experience for both your customers and employees, while simultaneously providing the tools for continuous improvement.
- Accept Failure for Progress - Accepting small failures for the good of the lessons they provide must be embraced while being experience-focused. Remember that human-centered design is an iterative practice and that strength is gained by trying, testing, adjusting, and testing again. Appreciating and understanding that the wrong way to go is an answer toward the correct path is a pivotal step in being experience-minded. It is only through this experimentation, testing, and learning, that you truly make progress.
- Evergreen Approach - Being experience-minded means you understand that human-centered design best practices are an ongoing and iterative process. You know that there is no ‘done.’ There is only a snapshot in time, where the context of your user’s needs and business drivers intersect with your organizational culture and beliefs. When you release a product or service to the world, it is born into the context of the users that embrace it. At this point, your organization then becomes responsible for the ‘care and feeding’ of the products, and you must be prepared for negative responses from the community or internal support staff. This is an opportunity to capitalize on the intersection of user needs and business drivers. Now is the time to utilize the human-centered design best practices in research, analysis, design, prototyping, testing, and iteration. These best practices provide you a consistently relevant solution for your user community. By developing a systemic release cadence, your users come to appreciate your organization’s commitment to the product and to them as meaningful individuals.
- Prototyping - Your ability to quickly and effectively prototype for insight is an important characteristic when you’re experience-minded. Prototypes become your tool for understanding; they become your medium to explore innovative ideas and gauge impact in a fast and affordable way. From the simplest form, executed on paper or whiteboards, to complex prototypes with an installed application, utilizing prototyping to give your organization insight into the validity of your ideas. Collecting initial feedback, before committing expensive resources to a full build, will largely benefit your organization in the long run. When you combine prototyping with a disciplined approach to research and feedback, your organization benefits by only executing high-value initiatives to production.
- Purposefully Scheduled Feedback and Governance - In order to continuously improve UX, CX, and OX, when you’re experience-driven, you need to have structure and guidance to gain feedback and incorporate changes. Research after deployment captures valuable data that aligns to human-centered design best practices. Design decisions are made based on observed user data. Adjustments to experiences, both internal and external, are made through analysis of feedback data. This discipline effectively minimizes the subjectivity that is inherent in design. When you’re a mature, experience-minded organization, you have a design governance model in place to guide business and experiential decisions. You have governance integrated, and it’s an ongoing process you’ve implemented to ensure your business is ‘fit-for-purpose’ and aligned with the operating model. This governance touches on UX best practices, human-centered design processes, research and data analysis, and organizational approaches to customer management.
Experience should be an important part of your organization’s DNA. By integrating the foundational elements of UX, CX, and OX, and implementing these nine characteristics, you gain valuable insight into how to reach and engage your customers and employees. Focusing on experience improves the relationship between your organization and your customers, it increases internal collaboration, and it maintains quality and loyalty of your employees.