Economies right now are fundamentally becoming less about physical objects and more about creating ideas and experiences… We now have a new challenge: we have to meet a new emphasis on improving experiences instead of objects, and we need to improve the flow of interactions between customers and service providers. – Daniel Pink, Business Thinking in the Knowledge Economy
If economies are fundamentally changing to be about ideas and experiences, how do we prepare for this change? What does it means to create experiences? And how do we improve the flow of interactions between customers and service providers?
To do this, we need to break some bad habits. The habit of seeing objects as merely functional. The habit of thinking that technology is the answer. The habit of thinking features matter most. The habit of calling people users. The habit of working in silos. The habit of ignoring or downplaying emotion, uncertainty, and mess. The habit of failing to listen for and study the resulting experience (because there’s always an experience, whether designed for or not).
If we put people front and center, embrace them in all their emotional complexity, and situate our understanding of them firmly in a messy socio-cultural context, then design becomes much more complex.
Designing for a holistic customer experience means designing within and for this messy socio-cultural context. And although we can’t truly define or control the experience (after all, we’re not the ones having the experience) we must still do our best to understand it, design for it, and influence it.
To do this, we must develop deep empathy.
We have to let go of our assumptions and reframe our thinking.
We need to collaborate across our silos to design for, prototype, and deliver the experiences we hope to invoke.
We must think about and explicitly design for every point of contact, every customer interaction (whether that interaction is with the product, website, service, content, employee, message, call center…)
We must weave together disparate interactions into a coherent whole.
Delivering a holistic customer experience means ensuring everyone in an organization has a deep understanding of the customer, the desired customer experience, and is empowered to act on it.
And then we have to let go. Observe. Listen. Engage in a dialog. Learn. Iterate. Intervene. Evolve.
Because every intervention, every point of contact, every message, every piece of content, every conversation has an impact on the experience.
So while a holistic customer experience can’t be scripted, we can still design for its emergence.
What others around the web are saying about holistic customer experiences:
- It’s All About Experience (Sohrab Vossoughi, BusinessWeek)
- Holistic Customer Experience (by Nick Finck blueflavor.com love their tagline “we speak people”)
- Prediction: Holistic user experience for 2008 (Lynda Rathbone)
- How to Lead the Customer Experience, Stephan H. Haeckel, Lewis P. Carbone, Leonard L. Berry
- Customer Vs User Experience, Leisa Reichelt
- The Human Interface, Christopher Fahey
- Experience is the Product, Peter Merholz
- Framework of Product Experience, Pieter Desmet and Paul Hekkert
- From Design of Objects to Design of (Almost) Everything, Bernie Roth (video)
What does thinking outside the product to design for a holistic customer experience mean to you?