A customer’s positive experience is at the heart of a successful product or service. Being customer centric (as opposed to product or service centric) requires a change in mindset and companies often need to put a strategy together to shift from one mode to the other in order to facilitate their customers’ needs.
I recently presented a lightning talk at the Experience Strategy conference in Melbourne. My talk delivered some insights on how to put together an experience strategy based on two recent projects where I had to put together a user/Customer experience strategy pack.
One pack was the UX strategy for our own company – DiUS. For the other pack, I worked collaboratively with the lead UXer at our client to deliver a Customer Experience Strategy for her organisation.
The below are my DO’s and DON’Ts from those two experiences:
1. DO: First, assess the current ‘experience’ maturity of the organisation
As part of providing a strategy for customer or user experience, it’s important to understand where the organisation is currently at – think of it as understanding the start line. This is also important as a way of creating a shared understanding amongst the audience/stakeholders.
There are a few maturity scales out there but I tend to stick to this one.
Measuring where the organisation is at is not easy. You’ll need to consider things such as: various stakeholders’ understanding of user and customer experience; how often is the UX team engaged; what are the capabilities of the UX team. Measuring the maturity is in itself potentially a large project. I hope to cover that topic in another blog article. But you can search the web on ‘How to measure UX maturity’. This article is also a good starting point.
2. DO: Ensure your CX or UX strategy is aligned to your organisation’s overall mission and strategy
There’s no point outlining an experience vision that goes against the direction your organisation wants to go.
So first, you need to clearly understand the vision, mission and any high-level business strategy your organisation has. You then need to understand what the user and customer experience must look like for the organisation to deliver on it’s mission.
Once you’ve done that, you are well placed to put together a UX/CX strategy that helps outline how your organisation will evolve in delivering the ultimate experience for it’s users and customers.
3. DO: Bring your Insights and Research team (if you have one) on the journey
Over the years, I’ve often seen Insights and Research teams go head to head with the UX/CX teams or try to disprove the validity of the user centred design (UCD) approach. UX and qualitative research techniques aren’t there to replace the quantitative / large sample size methods often applied by such departments. Both approaches and both departments have a valid reason to exist. Quant and Qual need to get along and co-exist.
So, it’s important for any experience strategy to understand and include such stakeholders and paint a vision that their existence is fundamental to the success of the strategy.
4. DO: Bring your Marketing team (if you have one) on the journey
Similar to Insights and Research, Marketing plays an important role in helping to define and deliver the proposed experience outlined for an organisation’s customers and users.
Brand and tone of voice are just some inputs from Marketing that need to be factored in and considered as part of a UX / CX strategy. And often, Marketing is seen as being the custodian of the organisation’s users and customers. Also, Marketing enlists the help of Research and Insights teams and individuals, so to include one and not the other will most definitely create conflict and tension within an organisation.
5. DON’T: Assume each member of your strategy’s audience understands UX/CX/Experience design
Too often I have sat in presentations by vendors or other departments where the presenter is presenting to stakeholders and is interrupted with questions around UX/CX terminology and techniques us practitioners take for granted.
Considering deliverables such as Strategy packs are often aimed at management level across multiple departments within an organisation, it’s better not to assume they understand Experience Design and either a) frame everything in terms of business context, value and impact or b) spend some time first defining the elements of CX and UX that you will be referring to within your strategy pack.
6. DO: Ensure your strategy takes into account all the capabilities, business units, and departments within your organisation
When a person engages with an organisation’s product or service, that experience is often the result of many people and departments within an organisation.
As an example, when a person buys Qantas airline tickets, they might interact with: the website (desktop and mobile); the ticketing system; contact centre and support staff; the check-in counter at the airport; the self-service luggage weighing and scanning; plane staff, etc. The list is long.
So to define the experience strategy of such an organisation, you need to consider each ‘arm’ of your organisation, where they play a part in the final experience of the customer and how they impact the experience strategy you’re defining. Their buy-in is also integral in ensuring your strategy can be delivered.
7. DO: Include a roadmap – stakeholders want to know when and how long
Any strategy, by intention, is about thoughts and recommendations on how to get to an end state, from a current state.
So any UX or CX strategy you produce will need to clearly outline not just where the organisation is currently at (the current state), but also where you recommend the ideal place the organisation should get to (the end state), and most importantly – what you recommend is required to get from start to finish.
Often called a ‘Roadmap’ (although the phrase has been overused and often under delivered – a client even once told me: “we can’t call it a roadmap – our stakeholders’ will roll their eyes”), your strategy should paint a clear path regarding how your strategy can be achieved and what milestones, resources and activities are required to achieve it. High-level dates and numbers should suffice.
8. DO: Have it reviewed and edited by someone within your leadership team
I learnt lots when I had my strategy document reviewed by a colleague who understood and worked closely with some of the stakeholders who were the end audience of my pack. As the person sat near the likes of the CEO and CMO, and often engaged with them or listened to their problems and levels of conversations, my colleague was well placed in helping edit my pack and provide feedback to ensure it was pitched at the right level.
So find yourself a few editors and, if possible, someone high up who can provide some great intel on your audience.
9. DO: Consider a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) model
There are websites that explain what the RAM (or RACI) model is about. I refer to one website’s diagram below. In a nutshell, the model ensures the correct assignment of responsibility and participation by the audience and stakeholders of your pack. It ensures you have the right people and right involvement to get your strategy approved.
So make sure you have people who are: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.
10. DO: Get sign off and endorsement of your strategy
No strategy doc or pack has validity unless it has the backing and endorsement of your senior stakeholders.
Considering some of the DO’s I’ve highlighted above, your strategy will most likely touch and impact many areas within your organisation, including the overall organisation’s strategy.
So for you to succeed at delivering it, you need to make sure your senior stakeholders not only understand what you aim to achieve but can happily sign off your approach and back you, especially when you face resistance and roadblocks. Stakeholder management and engagement is key to successful strategy delivery.
11. DO: Show the value of user and customer experience by DOING!
It’s one thing to sit in a room for weeks and produce a solid strategy document. However, I’ve found that the best way of having your strategy accepted is to be practicing what you plan to preach, in parallel to putting the document together.
There is nothing more valuable than your stakeholders seeing early what user and customer experience looks like and the benefit it can provide their organisation. And by having a few real life case studies in your pack, it gives the strategy further credibility.
And remember, strategies take time to put together. As they say, good things come to those who wait. Spend the right amount of time and you’ll be sure to have an end product that will hopefully engage your audience and get the acceptance you require.