Principles of transformative experience design (Part 2)| Design StrategyRetail Customer Experience

In this second part of a two-part series, Lisa Powers, associate UX director at Capgemini, discusses the second set of principles of transformative experience design.

| by Lisa Powers — Associate UX Director at Capgemini Americas, Capgemini

In the second segment of this two-part series Lisa Powers, associate UX director at Capgemini Americas, discusses the second set of five experience design principles that can help retailers transform and improve the customer experience. Read the first part here.

Experience design (XD) creates customer experiences that solve problems, cultivate emotional responses, and drive behavior. We have identified ten principles of experience design that apply to websites, apps, products, environments, or other areas of engagement with users, customers, and all participants in the creation of those experiences. However, XD and UX are not the same thing. Whereas user experience (UX) is about product usability, XD addresses the holistic, end to end set of experiences in a customer centric, data-driven way.

In the first part of this series, we looked at five of the key principles of effective XD, including ease of use, empathy, data, AI/ML, and transformation. Now, let’s look at the rest of these 10 key principles for creating experiences that support and empower customers and build loyalty.

Principle 6: Design for sustainability
Sustainable design thinking can help move organizations along Forrester’s curve toward ESG maturity, by leveraging sophisticated data collection and analysis mechanisms to build experiences that solve today’s customer problems and can adapt to meet future needs. Design thinking can also support sustainability by pushing innovation in the direction of the most sustainable effective options, always with a human-centric focus at the core of its designs.

In some organizations that may mean designing for experiences that run on renewable power sources, or creating products made from reclaimed materials. Other sustainably designed experiences may draw on expertise and insights from the organization, its customer base, and other stakeholders — such as the communities in which the organization operates — for continuous collaboration that drives product or solution development toward “green” goals. For example, brands that offer products in reusable packaging or provide marketplaces where customers can buy and sell the brand’s used products are meeting their customers’ needs for sustainable commerce by designing experiences that support it.

Sustainable storytelling can add an authentic, feel-good experience to buying into the brand, as in the philosophy and popularity of a Swedish fashion label that has impressive online visibility. The brand practices integrity and sustainability in a variety of ways, such as featuring diverse models with a range of body types, using eco-friendly materials, and manufacturing in countries protected by EU labor laws.

Principle 7: Seek knowledge, continuously and comprehensively
Despite the importance of customer centricity, Forrester found that just 8% of decision-makers classify their company as fully customer-obsessed. Effective experience design depends on a deep understanding of the organization’s customers, drawn from input and observations from employees, suppliers, managers, and of course the customers themselves. The key is to go beyond the typical customer-facing groups and beyond high-level touchpoint mapping to build a holistic, comprehensive understanding of customer-brand interactions.

Consider the brand engagements a customer may have after they complete their typical journey map. There may be field technicians, customer service representatives, even product team members seeking feedback on the next version of the item or service the customer purchased. Feedback from all of these stakeholders can help to continuously enrich the organization’s view of its customers, to design more effective and compelling experiences.

Principle 8: Design for clarity
Designing for clarity means making sure users understand what’s happening during their interactions with the brand and why it’s happening. Clarity also requires anticipatory design that relieves customers of the burden of unnecessary decisions during their experience. This design approach requires more than understanding customer needs — it requires understanding their state of mind and perspective.

Often, businesses think their customer-facing processes are clear and easy for the customer to understand, but not everyone thinks or engages with technology and physical space in the same way. By delving into the way customers use language and perceive design patterns, like buttons on a page, designers can create consistent experiences that reinforce the customer’s trust in the brand.

Principle 9: Design for context
Similar to clarity, contextual design relies on a deep understanding of the customer. In this case, data from multiple channels can inform the context that drives the design of different experiences. For example, a customer shopping for groceries on his laptop at home on the weekend may enjoy browsing new product suggestions and content about recipes and meal planning. The same customer, when shopping from his phone during a weekday lunch hour, may want to see his most frequently bought items first, so he can quickly add them to an order to pick up on his way home from work.

Principle 10: Test your experience designs
The final XD principle may be the most important. User testing is the only way to know whether your designed experiences are working correctly to support the customer. Yet, even with all the data and testing resources available to organizations, Forrester finds that the biggest mistake CX organizations make is still listening to their gut instead of relying on data and user feedback.

User testing actually begins at the start of the design process, by consulting with users and getting their feedback at each iteration step. By incorporating user input into a nimble and pragmatic design process, design teams are more likely to create experiences that need minimal refinement, reduce churn within the experience flow, accelerate time to market, and maximize the organization’s investment in experience design.

Taken together, these 10 XD principles can help design teams create experiences that engage customers across a range of senses and contexts, and help them achieve their goals in an emotionally appealing way. The key is to leverage the right data, customer feedback, and expertise at each stage of the design process to uphold these principles and put them into practice across your customer engagements.

Lisa Powers is associate UX Director at Capgemini Americas with more than 20 years of professional experience in the digital interactive industry. Her expertise spans design, user experience, customer experience strategy and research across industries including automotive, finance, manufacturing, retail, non-profit, media, and utilities.

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