Adriana Galue's Blog

musings about entrepreneurship & life…

Customer Experience Design

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 11.09.36 AMIn this blog, I have decided to focus on the concept of Customer Experience Design.

In today’s lingo, “customer experience” refers to the sum of all experiences that your target customer has with your offering over the duration of the relationship with your company. In order to succeed in any venture, both startup founders and business owners need to focus more and more on how to improve this customer experience.

The basic premise is that customers don’t buy features. They buy benefits and experiences. Oftentimes in the process of designing a product, we forget that features don’t necessarily lead to an experience that results in additional sales.

Companies such as Apple and General Electric (GE) are masters in designing experiences. I strongly recommend any entrepreneur reading about the user experience redesign story behind GE’s MRI machine for children. Prior to the introduction of the “MRI Adventure Series”, 80% of children going for an MRI procedure had to be sedated. Sedation not only has a negative effect on the overall patient experience. It also has a tremendous cost for the healthcare system. After GE redesigned the children MRI experience to reflect that of an adventure trip, the number of children sedations has been reduced to less than 20%. The features of the MRI machine remained the same. The experience, however, was completely redefined.

In order to understand customer experience, it is critical to walk in detail the path of our customer. Using fancy terminology, this means creating a Customer Journey Map. How in detail we need to understand this journey depends on the type of solution our product provides. The more we understand our customer’s path, the less likely we are to fail at providing an experience that results in sales.

Every product or service goes through a cycle if it is to become evolutionary relevant. The cycle looks more or less as follows:

  1. The customer perceives a need
  2. He/She does research about potential solutions
  3. A purchasing decision is made
  4. Product is received
  5. Product is used
  6. Product is maintained
  7. Product is recommended to a friend (a new customer is born)
  8. The new customer perceives a need and the cycle begins again

It is critical to think about user experience at every step in this cycle. As an entrepreneur, I am always putting myself in the shoes of my customer: from a user experience standpoint, how is my solution solving the customer’s need better than my competitors? During the research process, is my solution easy to find? Is my website fun and easy to navigate? Does it contain relevant information? Is my shipping methodology adequate for the expectations of my customer?  Does my product require too much maintenance? Would my customer recommend the experience to a friend?

A good experience design connects the dots in the life cycle of a product. Learning how to do a simple Customer Journey Map can be very helpful in connecting the dots. Many firms charge top dollar for creating such map. I recommend saving the money and creating a journey map as a collaborative effort with the members of your team.

Quick Method for Creating a Good Design Process

1. Map & Evaluate the Customer Journey Experience

  • Map a journey from the customer’s perspective
  • Map the surrounding “ecosystem” (the people, processes and technologies involved in the customer experience)
  • Identify the problems or pain points, also referred to as touch points. Prioritize such points and correlate your solution with the main pain point.

I am currently working on a video showing how to create a Customer Journey Map in an affordable way… Stay tuned.

2. Understand & Empathize

  • For every pain point ask 5 “whys”. Why is there a problem for the customer to begin with? Are there more than a couple of reasons? Where does your solution come in?

3. Re-frame the Problem: Focus on the problem that you are trying to solve, not on the solution that you are providing.
4. Redesign the Experience by Ideating, Prototyping & Testing (please refer to the references for agile development)

I want to thank John Kembel for increasing my knowledge by teaching a great seminar on Customer Design Experience during Boulder Startup Week 2012.

Additional Resources

Agile Development: The Lean Startup, Agile Blog

Design: This is Service Design Thinking, Stanford d School, Kerry Bodine’s Blog

Customer Journey Mapping: Harvard Business School, Service Design Tools, Parson’s New School for Design


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This entry was posted on 05/30/2012 by in Entrepreneurship, Innovation, StartUps and tagged , .
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