Paradigm2 was recently approached by a client with whom we have worked on several projects in the past. The client is interested in tracking the decision making of his customers, especially with regard to how they selected his firm, and how they decided whether or not to do business with him again after an initial period of exposure. This got me thinking…
For those of us in the service industry, User Experience (UX) really means customer satisfaction. While the way that customers and potential customers interact with our websites might also fall into the UX domain, many of us have few, if any, tangible products to point to. Taken literally, the experience of the user that we should be concerned with is very close to what market researchers traditionally called Customer Satisfaction.
Use of the word “tradition” in the paragraph above should not be taken to mean that the questions associated with this issue are stodgy or outdated. My point is exactly the opposite: these are critical questions, and worth a fresh look. Furthermore, many (often technology) firms are paying more attention to “designing” UX. That is, intentionally creating the experience you desire for your users/operators/customers. There’s no reason that those of us in the service industry shouldn’t be doing the same thing… not in terms of software, but in the interactions and touchpoints that we create for our customers.
There, then, is the critical difference between traditional customer satisfaction research and what we now think of as UX. We often think of UX, at least at its best, as designed and intentional; customer satisfaction is just what we call the measurements of what happened to someone in the course of their relationship with a company or product. Maybe we should stop thinking about it that way. Those of us who don’t sell something tangible can take a lesson from UX and think more about how to not only measure, but also engineer, the customer experience.
If Paradigm2 gets the opportunity to undertake this research, one of our goals will be to advance this way of thinking. Tracking down what a group of customers thinks about a service is necessary, but not sufficient for identifying or creating a competitive advantage. We will work to understand HOW this group of customers thinks, and why it behaves the way it does, and use that to help our clients build the customer experience that they want.