Want a compelling read that will change the way you think about the customer experience? Try Subject to Change, compiled by a handful of authors at product experience strategy and design firm Adaptive Path.
Focus: Customer Experience
The world in which we do business is changing rapidly and to be successful, we must focus on the customer experience.
This means you can’t really bet on the longest feature list or efficiency advantages to beat out the competition:
The processes for measuring and controlling efficiency are well-known and well-documented, and so in today’s world they no longer provide a significant competitive advantage.
Since you won’t be able to do everything, you have to be selective in your strategy. This involves deciding what to do and what not to do.
Design is a Keystone
The authors proudly proclaim that “design must become an organizational competency.” Everyone is a designer, not just the official design team your company may have. “Design is an activity” that involves empathy with the customer, problem solving, and prototyping of options.
To the customers, the experience they have is the only thing that matters.
After all your product does (or doesn’t do), the experience a person has with you and your product is what will leave the biggest impression. To make this as smooth as possible, you need to understand where a customer is coming from:
An appreciation of customer’s motivations, behaviors, and context leads to the development of a product, service, or system that can satisfy them.
Too often we may rely on reports or surveys to gain insight into customer intent. Nevertheless, we have to go “beyond statistics or extrapolation from [our] own behaviors” if we want to truly empathize with customers.
You can’t shoehorn people into generic “users” or “customers.” Your customers aren’t all the same, they are different and will do things you didn’t foresee and in ways you didn’t imagine. Truly understanding a customer can come from effective research.
Design research needs to inspire and indicate a clear direction.
Research for research’s sake isn’t worth the effort. The output must be understandable and actionable.
One of the authors, Todd Wilkens, stated that “the effectiveness of a research report is inversely proportional to the thickness of its binding.”
When implementing a new product or feature, ask yourself these questions:
What do people want to accomplish?
How does this activity fit into their lives?
How can I deliver on those desires?
Corporate Structure vs. Customer View
Your company is made up of silos of groups and divisions. However, to your customer, you are just “the company.” How can you make that customer experience uniform and make you actually look like your right hand knows what your left is doing?
The book refers to this as a “coordinated symphony that addresses the whole customer experience.” Nice imagery.
Not everything you make will work perfectly.
The true success of experience design isn’t how well it works when everything is operating as planned, but how well it works when things start going wrong.
The more you add or build into your product, the more likely that it will “fall apart and confuse customers.” Avoid the dreaded feature creep. By keeping things simple, your customers will be more likely to succeed.
Create the Long Wow
You can achieve long-term customer loyalty by systematically impressing your customers.
One of the authors, Brandon Schauer, explains “The Long Wow” and how to achieve it in his essay and this presentation:
Succeeding amidst uncertainty requires continuous improvement.
You can’t sit still or even just get by with what worked in the past. Continuous improvement, and its associated change, will help you meet the needs of customers and deliver great products and services.
Buy the book – Subject to Change is a very quick read that helps shake up the paradigms to which you or your business may be accustomed. This will foster some healthy self-evaluation and discussion of your business.