August 31, 2021

Why CX Design Matters

With a large portion of shopping and interactions taking place digitally, creating a customer-centric experience means more than simply producing a high-quality product or service for people to buy.

A good customer experience design, also known as CX design, enables brands to connect with a consumer in a manner that’s consistent, personalized, and emotionally compelling. It is also how a company demonstrates its brand and ethos—dedicating time and attention to the workflow design in its overall lifecycle with the goal of yielding a positive distinction from its competitors.

CX design is built on an architectural framework that anticipates a development roadmap and ensures you don’t paint yourself in any corners or throw away a bunch of code. Plus, it provides a proper foundation for a growing and adaptive CX with the lowest possible life cycle cost.

Below, we’ll expand on the definition of CX design and explain the critical role it plays in setting the stage for long-term business success.

What is Customer Experience Design?

Focusing on the relationship between a business and its customers, CX design is the process that product/design teams use to optimize each touchpoint in the customer journey—from the earliest lead generation stage to the point of conversion and beyond.

The goal is to provide an extraordinary experience at every interaction point and nurture strong, lasting relationships between the brand and the consumer.

From an organization’s perspective, customer experience (CX) can be a discipline, focus area, and unifying vision. A desired CX can provide a north star for the organization’s various verticals ranging from marketing to development to help desk. An experience always exists for a customer. Whether an experience is amazing or terrible depends on how well an organization defines and executes its CX strategies.

CX Design vs. UX Design

While there’s certainly some overlap between the two, CX design and UX design aren’t one and the same. In fact, UI is contained within UX, which is contained within CX, and CX is contained within BX (brand experience).

UX is short for user experience and centers around how users interact with your product or website, while CX involves ALL possible interactions that can span across entire ecosystems containing different products or solutions.

In trying to consider each of these phases, it can be helpful to visualize them in terms of the action they perform. For instance, if CX is retrieving a soda from a vending machine, UX would represent the act of drinking the soda, and the UI would be popping the tab on the can.

While CX design and UX design are closely related, each one has different measurement tools.

UX is measured against things like success, error, and abandonment rates, as well as how long it takes to complete a specific task (i.e., onboarding or checkout). On the other hand, CX looks at the big picture. Here, brands look at the overall experience and measure things like NPS, sentiment, and how likely a person is to keep using a product or recommend it to a friend.

Originally, the UX umbrella was intended to encompass every facet of a person’s interaction with an organization, but the proliferation of digital made this more difficult. UX is now associated with the quality of interactions between a product and its user, and CX design has come to cover the rest of the encounters that an individual has with a business.

But, how exactly can CX and UX work together?

To start, you need to create a shared CX vision for the entire organization. For UX professionals who are hyper-focused on delivering product releases, this will help them exert more influence and prioritize customer-facing features.

It’s also in the best interest of CX teams to manage and share customer feedback loops across product teams to ensure everyone is on the same page. The UX teams can then use said information as a centralized stockpile of qualitative user data.

Why You Should Care About CX Design

Aside from being a powerful means of differentiating your business from competitors, CX design allows brands to create a cohesive brand experience across all channels, both in-person and online.

According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of purchasing decisions are driven by emotion. For brands to adequately connect with their customers, they need to understand who they are, what type of journey they’re on, and how to anticipate and fulfill their needs.

Before proceeding with the CX design process, ask yourself:

  • What can we do to make the customer feel like they made the right choice in doing business with us?
  • Do we have the proper tools to engage with them and create a positive emotional connection?

How to Design Customer Experience

Develop Strong Customer Personas and Journeys

You can’t design an outstanding customer experience without understanding the complete journey each persona/segment travels.

Brands need to collect qualitative and quantitative data and identify touchpoints that feel disconnected from the overall experience. From there, you can devise a plan to address them and bring along as many UI-challenged personas as your budget permits.

Create Empathy Maps

As its name implies, empathy maps help organizations understand customer needs and the actions they might take to solve a problem based on existing values, emotions, and behaviors.

Consider how you want the customer to feel at each touchpoint.

  • Who are you empathizing with, and what situation are they in?
  • What do they need to do differently?
  • What do they see in the marketplace?
  • What are they saying?
  • What are they doing?
  • What are they hearing?
  • What are their frustrations? Their hopes and dreams?

Map and Align Stakeholders

Figure out who needs to be involved, whether it’s internal teams, external partners, or vendors/suppliers. Then determine the champions, supporters, gatekeepers, blockers, and create a change management strategy and a governance plan.

Define the Strategy

Qualtrics recommends defining a “focusing challenge”—meaning you’ll define the current and future state of CX in terms of “who needs to do what to achieve the desired outcome (the why).”

This also involves developing a roadmap of initiatives that, together, deliver on the vision laid out in your “desired future state.”

  • How can you optimize each touchpoint?
  • What role does each team play?
  • How do different initiatives work together?

Invest in the Right Tools

Although it can be costly, investing in customer data platforms (CDPs), CRMs, infrastructure, AI/ML/NLP, automation, mixed reality, and accessibility is a necessary piece of the CX design pie.

These tools and technologies better equip organizations with the ability to deliver exceptional customer experiences because they are nimble, agile, and receptive to feedback.

Measure and Improve

Make sure you measure against the metrics established at the start of your CX project.

Are the strategic objectives or key desired business outcomes being met?

Since you told your stakeholders what a “win” would look like, you need to show them you hit it out of the park.

The right metrics will show you if you’re making progress. These include average revenue per customer, market share growth, net promoter score (NPS), customer satisfaction score (CSAT), retention, sentiment, increase in revenue from new CX products, and increased activity in social media.

Luckily, there are solid ROI proof-points as research from Forrester shows that, on average, every $1 invested in UX brings $100 in return. That’s an ROI of a staggering 9,900%!

Final Thoughts

Today’s brands are no longer defined by the products and services they sell but by the customer experience they deliver.

To achieve this, a bold mindset is needed—one that can quickly respond to the ever-changing needs of the modern consumer.

3Pillar Global can help take your CX design to the next level. Contact us today to learn more about our process, services, and the advantages of our digital innovation solutions.

Special thanks to these members of FORCE, 3Pillar’s expert network, for their contributions to this article.

FORCE is 3Pillar Global’s Thought Leadership Team comprised of technologists and industry experts offering their knowledge on important trends and topics in digital product development.