Intelligent design puts the customer first


Ciarán HarrisPrincipal UX Designer
Jason WalshJournalist

When it comes to deploying products and services, user experience and customer experience are critical elements that can make or break a business.

How people interact with a company and its products has always mattered, but in today’s online-first world, user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) have come to the forefront as a key aspect of business differentiation.

Put simply, UX/CX involves understanding how people interact with a product or service and creating a positive and intuitive experience that meets their needs and expectations. In other words: it’s about putting the customer first.

But, in light of increased competition and an expected decline in spending this coming year, can CX and UX have a real impact on the top or bottom line? Yes, said Ciarán Harris, director and principal consultant at user experience design agency Each&Other.

“Companies that invest in CX and UX have better customer retention. Retain the customers and drive loyalty, that will drive your revenue,” he said.

With regard to the bottom line, a key goal for UX and CX is to reduce churn – customer acquisition is expensive these days. This is particularly important when margins are thin.

“If you look at the race to the bottom on utilities, they don’t tend to break even on a new customer until year four – and in a market with a lot of churn, that is a problem,” said Harris.

Beyond this, technology now, finally, allows for real personalisation – something that will have a dramatic impact on customer experience. And customer expectations.

“The big change [coming] in we will see is actual personalisation. For a decade, people have been talking about personalisation but, really, it has not been personalisation. You might be in one of four customer categories. Now it really is possible, and not just for marketing e-mails.”

Good examples of this are Spotify and YouTube that, using AI, can serve up content that is suited to an individual’s tastes, he said.

Bing’s integration of ChatGPT is another. And it is popular because it offers a good user experience, Harris said.

“For me, ChatGPT is a milestone. It’s not that the technology is groundbreakingly new. There are lots of AIs out there, some more powerful and some less: DeepMind decoding the human genome, for example. What made ChatGPT massive is the accessibility, which is why it has such a big impact,” he said.

What it will bring next is not yet clear, he said.

“We will have something completely new. What that will be, I don’t know. But we’ll start to see it in the next weeks and days, through the integration of Bing with ChatGPT.”

However, what the technology already demonstrates is that the tech is accessible even to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), for example in answering customer queries.

Small businesses will be able to use it. That accessibility really matters. You don’t need to be there fielding calls day in and day out.

However, as UX and CX have demonstrated their value, paradoxically, wider implementation can lead to lesser results. Harris said this was understandable, but can be avoided.

“With commoditisation of anything, standards drop. Effectively, you bring in yellow pack UX and standards drop. For us, our focus is always on delivering what’s best for the client and for their customers. We take a tailored approach, learning the best of what we can from the standards but actually listening to the customers, and having a laser focus on their needs,” he said.

In effect, there are no shortcuts, Harris said. However, the increased accessibility of the technologies that underpin CX and UX does mean that designers can bring their insights to businesses working in every market segment, and every size.

“Bespoke solutions are what design is about. That’s where design gets better,” he said.

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