In our increasingly connected age, technology, service, and the physical environment are converging. We flow in and out of a variety of digital, human, and spatial touchpoints with increasing fluidity. Brands have a chance to respond by creating customer journeys that are similarly fluid yet singular in nature and much more aligned to customer needs today.
Many brands reading this will think they are already doing this. But are they really?
The idea of creating unified, human-centric creative solutions certainly isn't new. Pieces like this one, from McKinsey, have been talking for years about the power of design in creating end-to-end customer experiences. In some ways the pandemic slowed progress toward this goal. But in others it accelerated opportunity by creating a new appetite for experimentation and urgency for change. Consumers have changed. We have new opportunities to change with them, and lead the way to forward-thinking transformation.
But, from my perspective, not enough brands are taking this opportunity. And now - coming out of the pandemic, when we are reconsidering how we use shared spaces and technology – is the perfect time for brands to start making plans to meet the moment.
So how can brands start achieving more intergrated, customer-centric solutions in 2023? Start by defining your vision. How (and where) do customers experience your brand? What do they love about you, want from you, wish you did better? Where does opportunity lie? What could success look like?
It can be overwhelming to initiate a significant transformation, especially when various specialists already own diverse workstreams, often accomplishing similar, but disconnected, goals. So think holistically, and long term, and chose partners who can do the same. Then planning can begin.
At UXUS, our approach -- as with every piece of customer experience work we do, from McDonalds to Chanel -- merges physical design, digital and technology design (to provide support, eliminate friction, build relationships, provide theatre and open deeper layers of engagement), and (person-to-person) service design. We can always make things look better for clients. But outcomes are more transformative when we make things work better by helping clients face their customers with integrated, purposeful solutions that match the channel-agnostic ways customers engage with them.
Physical space is a particularly high impact moment in any customer journey. In an age in which consumers are bombarded with slick images and messaging, each image and message has less impact. Physical experiences are notably different, with greater potential to make real, and lasting, impressions. Physical space is the only place where your brand, your product, and your customer make actual contact, giving it the power of tactility, human connection, participation, and emotion.
A strong physical experience, successfully realised, can reingnite relationships between consumers and brands, setting a foundation for sustained contact with customers regardless of time and place. So we design journeys that extend well outside the physical space, maintaining connections, and meeting customers where they are, recognizing that what happens in physical space may be initiated long before arriving, can carry on after leaving.
And all of this is just scratching the surface! There is so much room for innovation in adopting a more integrated, 360, human-centric design approach. It’s never too late to take a step back and think big about the future.
So, as you’re setting out what to put on the list of your brand’s achievements in the year ahead, ask yourself if you’re truly maximising your customer journey, or if you need to start taking the necessary steps towards building a newly unified, future-forward, vision.