On August 24th, 2023, Phase 5 launched its new webinar series with the session, “Top 10 Ways to Bring UX & CX Closer Together”. This topic is one that many of our clients grapple with in their own organizations, and we’re happy to be able to shed light and offer guidance based on our own experience across industries, companies, and time. As a supplement to our webinar, this article shares more details behind our top 10 list.
But before we dive in, let’s first consider why this discussion is so relevant today. Business leaders and consumers alike have witnessed the digital transformation that has happened and continues to happen in our everyday lives. Technology and its applications have become pervasive; we leverage tech in everything from our grocery shopping to our jobs to our entertainment, and the user interface is constantly evolving. Even keeping score in a little league baseball game requires an app that gets upgraded every season.
Given how tech touches nearly everything, user experience is undoubtedly a critical part of customer experience. However, the two disciplines are often managed in separate silos, making it a challenge for companies to deliver the best experience possible, despite having several resources allocated to the task. As the insights, UX, and CX partner of many leading organizations for over 30 years, we have a unique and valuable vantage point from which we can observe the “breaking points” between internal groups. We get to know the goals and perspectives of the different departments, enabling us to act as a bridge when these departments must work together to resolve inherently complex customer pain points.
Customer-centricity is inevitably at the heart of these solutions, and it is the key to stickiness and loyalty. When groups within an organization prioritize customers and make decisions through that lens, it can transcend their other differences and create a sustainable competitive advantage. Below are the top 10 ways organizations can bring UX and CX closer together.
(1) Be the champion of truth for the customer and the user, and then hold everyone else accountable.
While most (if not all) people would say they are proponents of the truth, not everyone’s version of the truth is the same. And that’s often because of a difference in perspectives, or in the case of businesses, a difference in KPIs. If one department is laser focused on sales of ‘product X’ and measures success only through that lens, perhaps some customer truths will be overlooked. When success is instead viewed from the perspective of the customer, key data points may change, and new common truths may be revealed that will enable groups from across an organization to rally together behind a common goal.(2) Prioritize where you will focus your improvement efforts.
There is never a shortage of problems to solve, and it can be overwhelming. We’ve seen many organizations effectively spin their wheels as they simply react to their latest issue, or continuously choose low-cost options rather than taking a strategic view of their situation. Using the tried and true Impact/Effort grid and identifying the highest impact, lowest effort opportunities is a great place to start. Without this type of analysis, companies can miss out on opportunities that would have a huge impact because they appear too costly or time-consuming.
(3) Drop the “we/they” mentality when engaging other teams.
Sometimes groups within an organization can act as though they are competing. One group can “turn its nose up” at the data collected by another group, perhaps because of the methodology or the data definitions used. Different contexts, different perspectives, and different training can vary the approach to problem solving, but still lead to success. Sometimes we at Phase 5 get the opportunity to work with multiple groups within a company, and subsequently act as a bridge between those teams. Based on that experience, our advice is to probe other teams and make an effort to understand the strengths of different approaches. It can lead to a stronger, more efficient and effective result.(4) Work on something big together – don’t just play in the margins.
One of the best ways to break down barriers, build trust, and understand potential synergies is to join forces to solve problems. When faced with a challenge, pause to consider who else has a view into that issue, and in particular a view into how it affects the customer experience. Then work to engage that group’s leadership in a resolution that works for everyone.(5) Find ways to gather and socialize insights fast.
Data and insights can come from different sources, both structured and unstructured, and technology enables us to collect this variety of relevant data quickly. Leverage the data, tools, and people already available to your organization to hit the ground running and improve the speed of both consensus and execution.
As well, communicate the issue, the insights, and the problem solving process to people early so that they are involved, and so that they give themselves permission to dream big. Engage colleagues in blue-sky type thinking at the onset (e.g. what would we do if we had no barriers?). Then towards the end of the process, several ideas will have been considered and discussed by stakeholders, reducing the risk of any group feeling unheard or resisting the final proposal.(6) Embrace lean and agile methodologies and employ the 80-20 rule.
Once again, these issues can feel overwhelming, but find a starting point. Start with something that will be useful to customers and productive to the organization. Don’t aim for perfection right out of the gate. Often, we can help provide the optimal starting point based on the insights we’ve gathered.(7) Become story tellers on insights.
If you want support, tell a good story with the data you’ve discovered. Engage your colleagues and stakeholders with the storyline you create and the way you present it. Share video clips and bring the client experience into the boardroom (or vice versa). Bring issues to life for peers and leaders alike in order to garner their support and facilitate decision-making. We can provide some great tips specifically on how to tell a compelling story with data.(8) Get to actions on insights.
Here’s an example to illustrate this point and how to make it happen: At a recent meeting where a client was presenting key findings from one of our projects, the organization’s leader stopped the speaker after each section. For each pain point that had been identified, he asked the group, “What are we going to do about this? And by when?” before allowing the presentation to resume. At the end of the meeting, the team had an actionable to-do list and was ready to hit the ground running with the assurance that they had their leader’s support.(9) Socialize insights and actions, over and over again.
In addition to communicating specific challenges to stakeholders across the organization as they arise, consider spending time engaging fellow employees about the importance of UX & CX more generally on an ongoing basis. Share with your colleagues what CX means, what the customer journey is, what the vision is, and what actions your team is taking to make it better. Show how the customer experience relates to their team’s goals, and how the work you’re doing supports their team and the organization overall. As one of our clients put it, spend time on “roadshows” to promote a customer-centric approach throughout the organization.(10) Be bold. Take risks.
Look at the major disrupters in your industry, whatever industry that happens to be. They took risks to achieve success. Risks can be everything from A/B testing all the way to major strategic shifts based on data, but they always require change. Even if you’re currently experiencing great success, the environment around you is constantly evolving and staying the same risks getting left behind.
For more of the stories and examples that inspired this list, watch a recording of the webinar, featuring Phase 5 Partners Arnie Guha and Andreas Noe. And for more information on our CX & UX practices, or to discuss how we can support your organization on its journey to customer-centricity, contact us.