Customer Experience Management vs. User Experence (Part III)

Continuing the posts on defining Customer Experience Management (CEM)… A number of consultancies and agencies equate CEM with User Experience. In our previous article, we outlined the five key disciplines, or components, of CEM.

User Experience, or “Usability” is focused on the interface discipline of CEM. The term is used primarily in reference to the analysis, design and/or development of human-to-technology interfaces. Some examples of this include creating, refining and managing:


  • Visual, navigation & informational web design
  • Interactive apps. w/ decision trees (e.g. register, search)
  • Easy-to-use interfaces for complex technical systems
  • Product designs for devices (wireless, PDA, IPOD)
  • Information & visual design within devices (game, DVR, computer)

    User Experience is an important part of CEM, but like Experiential Marketing, it’s a part of a much larger whole. User Experience architects center their focus creating functional, intuitive interfaces (online or systems applications and technological devices) that enable customer interaction and transaction. CEM practitioners focus on the comprehensive interaction of customers in both online and offline channels.

    Contrary to popular belief, User Experience is both an art and a science that requires a complex array of skills. Individuals who “do” usability can’t possibly embody all skills, although if you find a rare individual that does, you should pay them a mint! Dave Rogers of gotomedia recently wrote an excellent article about this in the gotoreport. Many of us will resonate with Dave’s frustration. To underscore Dave's assertions, here’s just a sampling of the functional roles that might found on a more complex user experience project:

  • Business Owner/Manager
  • Business Specialist(s) [e.g. marketing, merchandising, departmental]
  • Business Analyst
  • Product Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Information Architect
  • Content Manager
  • Taxonomist
  • Creative Director
  • Interactive Designer
  • Graphic/Visual Designer
  • Product Designer
  • Production Artist
  • Writer
  • Interactive Programmers [CSS, Flash, Javascript, XML, Ajax, etc.]
  • Systems Architects [Complex,interconnected systems]
  • Usability Analyst(s)
  • Testing Manager(s)
  • Testers (Unit, System, Client, Platform, Users)

    While it might be natural for any individual to assume 2-5 of the roles described above, many of you feel the pain of being asked to manage many – or all – of the roles outlined above yourself, or within a limited internal team. My advice to you: Keep educating your company about the nature of user experience with articles like this one. Be sure to tangibly demonstrate the results and forge ahead! Fortunately (job security) and unfortunately (you may have no-life!), this isn't likely to get much easier. The demand for user experience professionals is likely to increase. Here's why:
    1. Electronic channels are being integrated into traditional channels with increased frequency – and usability professionals are instrumental in helping us become more proficient and creative about how we use them. From increased integration of coupons, kiosks, wireless promotion… we’ll see more folks with traditional usability expertise being drawn into the broader CEM discussions. For example, the kiosk design team may be included in discussions on how to optimize kiosk use with in-store placement and visual positioning.

    2. Companies are beginning to apply more concentration on creating a more “seamless” customer experience across channels. Collectively this will force an increased demand for individuals with expertise in mapping out comprehensive experiences and designing interactions. This is a much-needed skill that must be applied within, and across traditional channels in order to effectively track and streamline the larger customer experience.

    3. User experience resources are accustomed to a customer centric design bias (vs. business centric bias). They are therefore more familiar with behavioral customer dynamics – in addition to channel dynamics, and greatly suited to helping design interactions from a customer-centric perspective.

    4. A growing awareness within companies for the need for user experience staff will drive increased hiring capability. This has already become visible in the job market today, as increasing number of user experience job descriptions present themselves. The ongoing challenge will be getting the position descriptions correct. As Dave points out in his article, most companies expect way too much from single resources.
    As consumers continue to adopt new technology, and utilize technologically driven channels for interaction and transaction, user experience (human-to-technology) competency will continue to be a critical factor in driving effective customer experience. This is especially true as technology continues to evolve and devices begin to mature and converge, generating entirely new products and services for consumers.

    Usability, as a part of CEM, will work to ensure technologically driven customer interfaces meet customer need, while additional attention will be focused by CEM practitioners on streamlining, synchronizing and improving holistic customer experiences across online and offline channels.
  • 2 comments:

    Larry Irons said...

    It seems to me that the user experience design approach aims to design and manage relationships between a product/service and users, regardless of the profitability of the person, or application, engaging in the use.

    Customer experience Management, on the other hand, looks to craft the product/service experience for customers while remaining cognizant that some customers are worth more than others to the business. For the latter concern, certainly uniform design principles are needed, such as integrating empathy into product/service design, yet the channels available in supporting the customer experience in fact are often structured according to the current profitability of the customer, or their lifetime value to the business.

    Julsbo said...

    As a UX practioner, I disagree with the assumption that we are designing for the lowest common denominator. We can always start building UX design personas off the back of a marketing segmentation, which allows us to focus on high value customers from the outset but - crucially - manage an experience design that takes into account behavioural edge cases *within the high value segments* instead of supposing that demographics define or limit behaviour.

    In terms of approach, there are a lot of similarities between CE and UX.

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    LEIGH DURST

    LEIGH DURST
    I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.

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