Customer Experience Design in 4 steps

The Editorial Staff
Content Intelligence Network

What is the difference between a home-cooked dish and a dish served in a starred restaurant? Both meet a primary need, which is to eat, but only the latter offers an experience for which you are willing to bleed yourself dry.

Building customer experience (CX) is not so simple, there must be a careful planning behind it, respecting the following points:

  • It must flow, that is, it must not present any obstacles, or at least have as few as possible.
  • It should push to the simplest possible action
  • It must be rewarding
  • It should encourage the relationship with the brand
  • It should invite to share the experience

In conclusion, access to the services offered must be quick, simple, intuitive and personalized at every stage of the relationship with the customer.


The Costa Cruises case


Although cruises are still a niche that attracts only 1-2% of travelers, the cruise industry has great potential for growth: a 98% market share is still "virgin", and cruise lines are confident to grow demand with targeted marketing strategies.

Of this 1-2%, in 2016 half of the European customers (5 out of 10 passengers) chose to travel on board of Costa Group ships. Alessandro Casellato, E-commerce and Digital Director of Costa Crociere, during Netcomm Forum talked about the customer journey of those who buy a cruise; he identified 5 phases (discovery, booking, pre-cruise, cruise and post-cruise) and a dozen sub-phases for a total of 50 moments across different touchpoints, with vertical and fragmented information on multiple channels. 

From discovery to post-cruise phase, in which the customer is convinced to return, at least six months elapse (just think that the average time passing before booking is three months) and it is a complex "journey" that passes through different digital and non-digital channels

The brand set a goal: to put customers back at the center and create integrated experiences in order to build a much closer interaction with them. Costa Crociere and the creative agency Triplesense Reply have adopted four steps to evolve in this direction.


The steps for CX Design


  • Relation

First, a different interaction between the client and the agency must be built. What approach we recommend? Put aside the "we've always done it this way"s, and you’d better abandon the classic brief as well, which tends to be top-down, because:

1) it does not fully describe a customer’s needs

2) it does not stimulate a synergy between customer and agency

3) it does not question habits

4) it gives the team the illusion that the goal is clear and unmovable.

A Google Design Sprint workshop is a better choice. It is a framework of activities, a sort of "round table" that focuses on the customer’s needs and puts technologies at the service of innovation. The advantages are:

- a greater self-awareness of the team, the opportunity to express one’s opinion stimulates the individual responsibility;

- a greater transparency between agency and company, as the work is done together, with shared objectives;

- teambuilding is encouraged

- decision-makers are involved in moments of co-creation

For example, in a four-day workshop with its agency, Costa Crociere cruises designed a working prototype of the new onboard interactive public monitors for Costa Smeralda, the new ship scheduled for November 2019. There's a big difference between bringing a generic power-point presentation to product managers and showing them something that already looks like the finished product, with which to start micro-loops to collect feedback.

The prototypes are based on user stories and design principles, allowing to anticipate any critical issues before starting the integration.

  • Planning

It is essential to share short- and long-term goals with the team.

  • Design

The method changes: with design, there is no longer a project but an entire product-oriented ecosystem, as a series of products that are activated through agile cross teams, which get stimuli from various actors (tech, business, design, stakeholders, users) in an organic way.

In essence, technology, creativity and business come together to find a common denominator and put the customer, the most important person, to the center, offering them the best customer experience.

As for work organization, individuals should keep up with their own vertical tasks, all while coming under the umbrella of customer experience, in a shared team effort.

  • Monitoring

It is important to check results and intervene precisely on critical issues.

Creative agencies with a background in data analysis registered a 14% growth in 2018, while all others fell from 10% to 20%. Data is power: it allows us to know our users, to understand how they behave and to have information about their navigation and their choices.

But beware, data is descriptive, it tells us what happened in the past and not what will happen in the future. We should not think of it as infallible, but as an inspiration. You have to seize the opportunities behind it, because behind the numbers there are people.

The human element in the analysis must remain important, otherwise the data will remain sterile.

In conclusion, we always start from a need, to be answered to through experience design. Before investing in pharaonic projects that may not work, test out the idea internally with small-scale prototypes, and only after a careful analysis restart this flow with new experiences (or review those that have proven ineffective).