In 2012 ‘the customer experience’ escalated from being an often-ignored element in the design process to receiving much deserved respect as one of the most important factors driving customer purchase decisions and recommendations. As a result, and as Joe Pine discussed in an interview with Francois Gossieaux, the acknowledgement that people don’t buy products, they buy experiences has many organizations rethinking their business culture and their business model.
What customer experience trends should organizations be watching for, or creating, in 2013? How will these trends influence product and service design, business models and ultimately impact the bottom line? I decided to ask a few customer experience design practitioners and leaders in the field, to get some answers.
The first conversation I had (via Twitter) was with Jamie Thomson, Senior Experience Designer at MadPow in Boston. Presenter at World Usability Day New England 2011, her stories on Journey Maps opened our minds to the emerging role of experience design, and how it’s helping to reshape the patient experience.
Four trends Thomson’s going to be watching, and influencing, in 2013 include:
1. Improve Methods to Navigate From Vision to Execution
While more organizations have a clear vision of the outcome of the customer experience they want to deliver, Thomson recognizes there’s room for improvement on bridging the gap between vision of the desired customer experience and execution of the steps and processes needed to deliver optimal customer experiences. Thomson’s view, “Having clear vision is critical but useless if it can’t be built.”
As a Project Manager, I couldn’t agree more. Applying project management practices to the experience design process adds concreteness to what has long been perceived as a soft design discipline. As the outcomes of customer experience get more measurable in 2013, so should the application of practices that create a simple, repeatable framework for the experience design process.
2. Continue to Build Awareness of Value of the Customer Experience
Thomson has witnessed experience design gaining wider attention during the past several years. While on a definitive growth trajectory, she still sees the need to continue building understanding of the importance and bottom line value of experience design among the big decision makers in 2013.
3. More Collaboration, Better Communication
Communication and collaboration between those who envision and those who execute is an imperative to project success. Because of that, Thomson expects to see improvements in both collaboration and communication during 2013.
Integrating adequate time and creating cross-functional teams are key elements to project success. From the initial competitive analysis through prototyping and business requirements gathering, maturing experience design practices in 2013 should facilitate greater collaboration and more effective communication enabling project teams to deliver products customers want on the first try.
4. Better Balancing of Customer Needs vs. Business Needs
A frequently misunderstood element of customer experience happens when there is a perceived imbalance between the needs and goals of the business and those of the customers. According to Thomson, cut-throat prioritization and road mapping for progressive enhancement while maintaining the right balance between the needs of the business and the needs customers is another area of experience design ready for refinement in 2013.
Watch for the next post in this What’s Ahead for the Customer Experience 2013 series when we look at Responsive Design and insights from Jason Mark.
Help us continue The Customer Experience 2013 conversation by sharing this article via Twitter, Google+, Facebook and other social platforms and by adding your comments below. And Happy New Year!