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Inseparably linked: User Experience and Customer Experience

A poor quality interaction with the customer can reduce their confidence in the brand. We'll show you why a good UX concept is so important.

How many times have you called your bank or insurance company and spent five minutes tediously walking from point to point of the automatic voice menu just to wait for the ‘next employee’? After you've been told that ‘the conversation is being recorded for quality assurance purposes’, another five minutes pass until you finally speak to a human being. You are already frustrated and wonder how a company that strives for ‘quality assurance’ can expose you to such ordeal.

What we have just described is the example of a miserable User Experience (UX). It is cumbersome, inefficient and completely ignores the time it takes from the customer. With such a call center concept, the company is not doing itself any favors in terms of customer satisfaction and loyalty. On the contrary, this process has an overall negative impact on the Customer Experience (CX), the way the customer interacts with the company over the entire period in which they use their products and services.

CX and UX are two different things, but they overlap in many ways. Whether it's apps, websites or call center menus, UX concepts are often designed by developers and designers on theoretical basis. And this sometimes leads to a discrepancy between the customer's needs and the services they use. But user experience and customer experience should be coordinated as often as possible. This is the only way to prevent the customer from being annoyed by the poor quality of his interactions and losing confidence in the brand altogether at some point.

Therefore, the relationship between UX and CX should be redesigned. We'll tell you how:

1. Integration of the user experience into the customer experience

If the user experience is to be improved, it must fit into an overall concept for optimizing customer experience quality. While this is a growing focus, many consumers report that companies' CX/UX strategies are still not delivering satisfactory results.

According to a 2017 Northridge Group State of Customer Experience report, 50 percent of customers say companies don't make it easy for them to contact them. More than 70 percent of callers have to accept ‘long waiting times’ and find it ‘difficult to navigate through the automated system to talk to an employee’. 57 percent of the customers surveyed have problems finding information on the company's website.

But here is the decisive figure: 81 percent of customers say that, after a negative experience they are unlikely to turn to the company again, and even if customers stay, they are often reluctant to do so because switching would be too time-consuming.

A Pyrrhic victory, after all, who wants dissatisfied customers who keep complaining about poor service?

How a customer perceives a brand depends on his overall experience. And long waiting times or problems navigating a non-intuitive website are some of the most annoying experiences customers can have.

One of the best ways to ensure that the user experience fits into your overall strategy for a high-quality experience is to involve customers in the product and service development process. The customer's voice is able to penetrate the ivory tower where developers and other technically minded people often sit, people who are often very different from the average consumer. (For example, they often have higher degrees and higher incomes). Customers provide essential information on how well your CX and UX initiatives are actually being received.

2. Co-creation as Priority

There are now not only marketing campaigns in which the customer can be creatively involved, but also increasing content which is generated by users. Never before has the collaboration between customers and companies been as intense as it is today.

This cooperation, also known as "co-creation", is expected to increase over the next few years. For many brands it is not enough to react promptly to customer enquiries and develop products with an attractive, tightly designed user experience. They go one step further and involve the customer in the creative process.

Large companies such as Sony, Starbucks, Cisco and Unilever have long relied on co-creation. And in an article published in 2016 by INSEAD Knowledge (the knowledge portal of the renowned business school INSEAD), the author states that at DHL, IKEA and Fuji Xerox "co-creation workshops are standard part of the R&D process".

And there is a good reason why so many companies rely on working with their customers: It creates more customer satisfaction and a higher return on investment than other methods of product development. Co-creation also ensures higher product acceptance rates, lower innovation costs and lower price elasticity. In addition, it is possible to develop MVP (Minimum Viable Products) products in a shorter time, product versions equipped with core functions that satisfy those customers who use the products earlier than other consumers.

Procter & Gamble is a good example. After co-creation processes were implemented at Procter & Gamble, the proportion of products whose development was co-designed externally rose from 15 percent to 35 percent. And according to a study published in 2015 in the scientific journal Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences, the productivity of Procter & Gamble's R&D division increased by 60 percent. Their ‘innovation success rate’ rose by 100 percent, while research and development costs fell.

If such figures do not convince that co-creation should be given a chance, it is probably not convincing.

3. Determine Consumer Behavior in Detail

Everyone knows how important it is to spare customers frustrating user experiences. But that makes it all the more difficult to find out what kind of experience they actually expect.

This is why companies need to keep a close eye on new trends within their industries and, where possible, understand the behaviors and priorities underlying these trends. They should also be aware of the needs of those customers who are not always up to date - customers who prefer to communicate with companies in the traditional way.

For example, the fact that more and more customers want a self-service option does not mean that people should be replaced by automated processes. According to the 2017 study State of Customer Experience by business service provider Conduent, 24 percent of respondents explicitly use self-service options to ‘avoid personal contact’. 27 percent want digital support (although they say they tend towards ‘self-service solutions’). But the largest proportion of respondents, 49 percent, still want personal contact with people, either face-to- face or over the phone.

This shows how important it is to understand your customers' diverse interests and provide a service that binds them to your business.

Conduent's study is also instructive in another respect; digital channels are ‘the most popular communication channels for customers of technical providers’, but they generate a lower satisfaction rate than any other communication method. It may be that customers want to be able to communicate with companies online, but in many cases technology has not yet been able to keep pace with this demand.

So if you want to improve your customer experience as a whole, you can't limit yourself to offering an attractive service - you also have to make sure that this service doesn't create a user experience that works against the company.

Photo by John Salvino on Unsplash

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