Customer experience design principles are difficult for organizations to understand and apply. Time and again, we see this in organizations, even though we encounter customer experience design principles in our daily interactions with the environment.
Take these pictures of one of the more crowded places in the New York Subway. It makes no sense to create a connector for pedestrians and NOT make that connector accessible. This is one of the many results of skipping (or attempting to save money on) customer experience design.
Let’s assume these images convinced you to apply customer experience design to your projects. Here are 5 customer experience principles to guide you in your process.
Start with Customer Research
Since Customer is the first word in Customer Experience Design, it makes sense to start with the customer. Spend the necessary time and money to define the customer personas you plan to serve with your design. Map those personas’ needs and desires. Continue to return to those needs and desires as you go through the process.
Doing customer research has several benefits. First, it forces the design to be outside in vs. inside out. In the absence of research, customer experience designers tend to think THEY know best what the customer wants and needs. As a result, you end up designing for one person vs many people. For instance, there is no way that a person who has never traveled with a child can itemize the frustrations and needs of someone who has to navigate the city with a stroller.
Second, customer research organizes the features of your design in a useful way. Intuitively, we know some of our customers’ needs. However, we may forget to consider those needs over time. When you have access to research, all you need to do is refer to it throughout the process to ensure you have all needs covered.
Function over Style
This is particularly important for digital design. And, it connects to research. CX Design requires the creation of user stories, and the practice of empathy. To achieve this, list all the things a person might need and want to do with your product.
Create a hierarchy of those needs and make the most common the biggest buttons on your screens. For instance, Log In should be easy to find through both location and color. Recently, Barclays fixed its credit card customer experience by finally removing a modality on their website that made us, the customers, pay the wrong amounts due. Last year, I paid almost $400USD in penalties simply because I did not click on a nearly invisible toggle to change the default (incorrect) modality. So, make sure you run those user stories during your process, no matter how tedious they seem.
End-to- End Experience
End-to-end customer experience design is easier said than done. But, you have to do it. This principle is also the money maker. So, do not underestimate it.
End-to-end design means thinking about where your customer has been and where s/he is going, so you can make those transitions seamless. It also means asking what ELSE your customer could need from your product/service and making that available and easy to use. Citi Bank added the ability to send wires, pay Citi Credit Cards, and use online chat, all on the Citi App. Over the last 3 years, the organization took the time to integrate almost all their customer needs in one place.
When you think about end to end experience design, go beyond the purely digital. In physical spaces, like a train platform, end to end CX design means creating intuitive signage that constantly helps the passenger have a sense of place.
Easy and Intuitive = Key to Customer Experience Design Principles
Why do we include these words when outlining customer experience design principles? Because they are the two things customers really want. Customers don’t want fussy or complex experiences. People want to go through life with a sense of ease and a feeling of being taken care of.
Easy and intuitive design delivers on this need. So, simplify everything. Your images, your copy, the number of steps it takes to do something. And be kind to your customers. Don’t be frustrated by their needs. They make our jobs necessary. So, work hard to understand and take care of them.
Reiterate – Customer-Led Customer Experience Design Principles
This is the last and most important customer experience design principle. And, unfortunately, it is another principle that organizations try to skip in an attempt to save money. Testing your designs with smaller user groups is the most informative and powerful thing you can do for design.
Embed this step in your process even if it takes longer to launch your product. Collect feedback and learn from your customers. That way, when you are done with the final design, it is informed by the real world.
Applying these five customer experience design principles helps organizations unlock the mystery of delivering what customers truly need: intuitive, empathetic, end-to-end experiences that make them feel seen, heard, and cared for.