User Experience (UX) covers a customer's interactions with your product or service, and by contrast, Customer Experience (CX) covers a customer's experience with your overarching brand.
I don't work in either of these fields, but I work closely with people that do, however, I'm writing this through my lens as a senior project manager and business analyst, as I feel it puts me at a vantage point to relate closer to how clients think at a project delivery level.
In a climate where clients expect cheaper systems delivered by projects with aggressive timelines there are some core activities that surround a delivery project that needs to be excluded. Activities in the UX/CX space are often the casualty.
- Is it because clients don't understand the true value UX/CX activities deliver?
- Is it because proper analysis of the customer(s) has not been done, therefore their needs aren't really known?
- Is it because clients don't put themselves in the role of a customer properly, or don't really care?
- Is it because assumptions have been made that customer behaviour is fixed, and that will never change?
- Is it because the opportunities the new system offers aren't properly understood, therefore the future methods of customer engagement haven't been strategized?
- Is it because the focus is on the project at a macro level, giving no consideration to the greater digital transformation?
Well herein lies the point. Good UX/CX practitioners explore, confirm, and resolve all these issues! They can also do most of this concurrently with system delivery.
In an earlier article, I wrote about personalisation, and I talked about how fickle customers are these days, well that doesn't just apply to content, rather the entire experience they have with your website or system. This directly feeds into their opinion towards your brand. If one of these is tarnishing the other, you're limiting growth.
There seems to be a slight misunderstanding who you can go to for services like this, a lot of companies go to well-known digital marketing agencies for branding and corporate identity design and then naturally just throw all related work in the same direction by default. Is this the right move? Probably not.
As soon as you cross into the application space, the skills needed by the same disciplines change. They're stronger. They're deeper. They're completely aligned with the engagement points you're actually going to have with your customers. It's moved from the 'theoretical' space into the 'actual' space. And the best part? Under agile delivery, you now have a whole lot more options and tools to make sure you're headed in the right direction.
Leveraging LEAN you can get system releases, features or configurations implemented and deployed with as little expenditure as possible. You can then solicit feedback from customers, or even just monitor their interactions. You can do A/B testing with live transactions instead of focus groups that marketing agencies often use. Instead of designing how it should be and hope it works, you can validate on the fly and actually make it work that way.
Delivery teams almost always have a UX/CX resource assigned in some capacity, so the outcome of those tests can directly trigger the response of change, to tune and hone the touchpoint to execute exactly as you want. It often even surfaces more touchpoints that may not have been planned for.
So my advice to you? When planning your digital project, determine your budget as usual, but then appeal to your project sponsor to zoom out a little to the digital transformation level within your organisation. Acquire a little more budget at this level to truly engage with UX/CX activities.
The ROI might not be as immediately obvious as when a new system goes online, but it's an insurance policy in the form alignment to other strategy items you're executing at a company level. It will address consistency, cross system friction points, and even potentially simplify your architecture and the administration needed to run it.
More importantly, it will ensure your customers have a consistent and managed experience with your brand. Let's face it, as customers, that's what we love, and that’s what keeps us coming back.
Our UX team is currently working on some great brochures that really explain our offerings as stand-alone services de-coupled from our delivery projects. They also have a blog post in the works coming soon so watch this space.