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  • Mira Nair

The Future of Customer Experience Strategy

The Women in Technology Cambridge Meetup is an amazing way to meet women working in the tech sector, especially as Cambridge has a reputation as home to many tech startups; I’ve often heard it referred to as the ‘Silicon Fen.’

Many of us at the Meetup work at small, quickly growing companies, all the more reason to network with other innovative women. I love hearing from professionals with different perspectives on what makes a business, at any stage of growth, continue to be successful.

One way many tech-focused companies go wrong is by neglecting an important aspect of growth – staying focused on the market and end-users of the product and services.That’s why many businesses are putting increasing focus on their User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience (CX) strategies. They recognise that remaining competitive in today’s saturated and complex market means earning and sustaining customer loyalty.

I was recently interviewed by UX News Magazine – where I discussed tips for companies to improve their ‘customer focus,’ and also what impact new technologies are having on our ability to engage customers.

You can see the first half of the interview below:

What are your best tips to create customer-centric culture across an organization?

Customer centric culture should not be thought of as a new fad, but as a core goal which was always there but facing new challenges and opportunities.

Having a customer-first mindset needs to go beyond UX and CX teams; we need to de-centralise and invite all the teams who don’t deal directly with customers, from finance to HR to IT, to recognise how their work impacts customer experience.

Tip 1: Training. Part of the job of UX and CX should be to train others in the customer mindset. Exercises like persona profiling and customer journey mapping are not only fun to do with any team, but can also give you, the ‘customer expert,’ new insights and perspectives. HR and professional development spend a lot of money on training and excursions to help, say, IT, do team-building. Why not use a customer journey mapping workshop for team-building? The CX will unite colleagues around a common goal and common values.

Tip 2: Humanise data. Now that we have exploding volumes of data around customers, it is even more important not to treat each customer as a single data point in time, but rather continuously look at the lifetime value of existing and potential customers. This means spotting patterns across a large population of existing and potential customers without losing a sense of each customer specificity. This customer-centric focus should cut across almost all corporate functions from billing and sales, to marketing and product design. Marrying the opportunities of big data with the power of storytelling will be key to customer-centric strategies.

Tip 3: Content. Produce content that eschews internal bias and thinking and is designed with the customer in mind. Modern organisations live and breathe content – be it the latest marketing collateral or a post on Yammer, employees can’t escape the content barrage.

Create case studies of how your products and services have had positive impact on customer lives – and share these case studies internally and externally. If your content can convince even the most jaded of your developers that the work you’re doing has real meaning for customers, then it can convince prospective customers that you’re worth buying from over the competition. Your colleagues are a great way to test the effectiveness of your content and your brand story, before it goes out to the public.

AI and other digital technologies are driving the future of UX. What are some of the most exciting new opportunities that these create for UX teams?

New AI and other types of digital technology are creating new opportunities for UX teams across all stages of the UX design process. At the research and optimisation stages, we are able to collect more and better data. At the product design stages, we are able to create more sophisticated solutions and personalised experiences to help customers achieve their goals. But sometimes we get lost in all this technology and forget that we are using it for the benefit of human audiences. UX and CX professionals have the responsibility of ensuring technological advancement is for the betterment of the customer experience, rather than just a way for teams to drive their heads further into the sand.

The key is to think of AI and digital technologies as complimenting, not substituting the human element in UX design. A good example is using a neural learning database of thousands of videos analysed for emotional arcs to test the emotional attractiveness of potential storylines for a product. Multiple versions of the storyline can be tested in small audience samples to find how to customize each message to each audience segment or even individual customer. None of this can be driven solely by AI or other technologies – human analysis is necessary. AI and digital tech, above all, give UX teams the opportunity to harness their ability to EMPATHISE at deeper levels with human users, and let robots do increasingly more of the rest of the work. Empathy and understanding the importance of context are still two human traits that new tech is unable to automate well, if at all.

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