The Power of UX, Part 3: Transforming the Customer Experience

Imagine you’re taking a family vacation to Disney World. 

You’ll be staying at a Disney Resort, and you’re looking forward to family fun, exhilarating rides, and fantastic photos. You’re not looking forward to waiting in long lines, juggling your tickets for different parks, or accidentally locking yourself out of your hotel room.

Then you receive your Magic Bands in the mail, one for each family member. These waterproof bands act as a hotel room key, easy payment method, ride reservation tool, and photo storage container during your stay.

The bands are a small thing — but they make your entire experience at Disney World a little smoother, a little easier, a little better. 

The past two posts in this series have discussed how you can improve the UX of your physical products or web interfaces. But UX can have a far broader impact if you successfully apply its principles to your company’s customer experience.

Touchpoints Along the Way

Through the lens of UX, every customer takes a journey with your company. As they pass through each “touchpoint” on this journey, they leave their interaction with a certain feeling – positive or negative.

To illustrate: a customer who wants to return an item and can’t easily figure out how to do so feels frustrated. A customer who finds the returns process surprisingly painless feels relieved. The same is true of all of the touchpoints on that journey – from packaging the return to dropping it off to receiving a refund. It’s the sum of all of these emotions that creates the customer’s overall feeling towards your company.

As an example, I recently had to obtain a mortgage statement from Chase Bank. Due to PPP loans and other Covid-related issues, banks are overwhelmed right now, so I braced myself for an eternity on hold. Imagine my relief when the system simply offered to call me back when an agent was free. What a convenience!

I hung up and went back to my day. Within 20 minutes, an agent returned my call and took care of the statement in the space of a few minutes. Incorporating this “call back” feature flipped my experience from “ugh, calling Chase” to a solid two thumbs up.

Many business concepts are built upon this kind of UX improvement. Uber targeted many of the negative touchpoints around hailing a cab – wondering how long the taxi would take to get there, dealing with a driver who doesn’t meet expectations, having to pay with cash – and eliminated them one by one through the Uber app, ratings and reviews, and in-app credit card payments.

Qantas did the same. When faced with its first billion-dollar loss in 2013, Qantas invested in UX by offering fast, free Wi-Fi on its flights—then an extremely rare perk in the airline industry. It also streamlined its baggage check-in process, which was a negative touchpoint for many frequent flyers. In the following years, profits rose substantially as Qantas resumed its position as Australia’s iconic airline.

Improving the Customer Journey

Most companies would theoretically agree that improving their customer experience is important. But many have a difficult time stepping back and determining where they can improve. Here are the questions to ask to figure out which additional steps you can take to improve your company’s UX:

  • Have you experienced the customer journey yourself? It can be difficult to step back and realize how frustrating various touchpoints are from the customer’s perspective. UX testing can include going through the process as a customer so that you better understand what different types of customers might experience. This can also open your eyes to what customers really want, rather than merely focusing on what your company can easily provide.
  • Which touchpoints have you discovered to be cumbersome or time-consuming? Once you have experienced various interactions with your company from a customer’s perspective, consider which aspects of the experience are most aggravating. Did you discover that your website’s search bar failed to find the information you were looking for? Or that linking up your product to a certain device required a phone call to tech support?
  • How can you make those touchpoints smoother? Can you include a live demo of your product on your website, or send it as an email to every purchaser? Would a Livechat option be more helpful than a phone call? Your overall goal should be to minimize the effort that customers need to put forth in order to reach their desired end goal.
  • How will you balance UX improvements with your bottom line? It is important to realize that improving your customer’s experience will not always have an obvious ROI in the short term. Think about the concept of Amazon Prime, which Jeff Bezos said was designed to make “two-day shipping an every day [sic] experience rather than an occasional indulgence.” Eliminating the shipping fee and shortening the wait time for Prime purchases has made significant improvements in Amazon’s reputation and customer satisfaction.

Remember: The way your customer interacts with your company can be pleasant or painful, easy or hard, memorable for all the right reasons or for all the wrong ones. When your customers walk away after each interaction, their impression of your business will follow them. Retool your processes – apply the principles of UX – so that every step of your customer’s journey is a huge win for your business. 

This is part 3 in a series that examines how you can harness the power of UX to improve your bottom line. This post focuses on how the principles of UX can be used to improve customer interactions for all companies. See all the articles in the series here.