Picking the right resolution to design your customer experience

Brand Experience
By 
Joe Smith
September 30, 2021
Brand Experience
By 
Joe Smith
September 30, 2021

The most critical and stressful part of customer experience design is the very beginning: do you take a broad, high-level view or a narrow, focused view of the customer journey? What if you're too high level and the output is not actionable? What if it is so detailed and complicated that no one understands or uses it?

Getting the “resolution” – how general or detailed you will get – is critical.

There are three ways of approaching meaningful customer experience design. Below is a guide for choosing the best resolution for addressing your brand and business problem.

1. The Panorama

This is the broadest view of the customer experience and looks at the problem a customer is trying to solve in their life. Rather than focusing in on the mobile banking experience of a customer, which greatly narrows your effort, expand the perspective to see how the customer saves, invests, and spends money to accomplish major life goals (e.g., buying a house, saving for college, investing for retirement).

For example, in working with a leading music retailer, we mapped a musician's relationship with music – starting with the moment they first fell in love with music, and including their first instrument, major influencers, current rituals, obstacles to playing, and the brands they use to feed their music passion. This helped us understand not only the love and passion musicians have for playing music, but also identified the needs, wants, and frustrations that musicians have. With this understanding, we were able to reposition the brand to appeal to a much broader set of musicians that drove new customer acquisition, increase loyalty, and set the company on a new growth trajectory.

When should you use the Panorama? It’s best when you need a full assessment and audit of the brand experience. Good to do every 3-5 years as course of habit, but also necessary when you are feeling strong competitive pressure and potential disruption.

2. The Close-up

This is the narrowest view of the customer journey, typically focusing on a part of the customer experience that is under-performing, broken or undefined. By focusing on a specific portion of the customer journey, you can go into great detail regarding the problem a customer is trying to solve – and the employee experience that is required to deliver the solution.

For example, in working with an international fast casual restaurant, we identified that high demand for the product was resulting in long wait times and customer frustration with the drive-through experience. This was causing lower net promoter scores, fewer visits, drive-through abandonment, and lost sales. In this case, we narrowed our focus to just the drive-through and went really deep, understanding people's motivations and mindset for choosing the drive-through and breaking down the experience all the way to how the drive-through was staffed, the devices and software used to take orders, the packaging, and more. As a result, the drive-through experience was redesigned, wait times reduced, net promoter scores rose, and sales increased.

When should you use the Close-up? When you are failing the customer during a specific portion of the experience. Can be highly targeted and fast.

3. The Combo

This is the most difficult, but potentially most fun view of the customer journey. Like a bird watcher, you need to have a full view of the customer journey – then focus in on the moments that matter most across the experience and design them to exceed customer expectations.

For example, in working with an international gaming and casino company wanting to reinvent the hotel experience on the Las Vegas strip, we mapped the hotel experience, looking for moments that really mattered most to our target customer. We then reinvented seemingly mundane moments to surprise and delight them and created signature moments to truly deliver the magic. The result was an award-winning hotel that exceeded growth expectations despite an economic downturn.

When should you use the Combo? This approach is best when designing a new experience or answering an innovation mandate, because you have the freedom to find the moments that matter most and can design from near scratch.

Getting the approach right is the difference between driving organizational alignment for a customer experience that drives growth, or yet another strategic document that collects dust as the organization fights over why customers are abandoning the brand for competitive offerings.

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