Historically, enterprises have looked at design as a business function focused on aesthetics and usability.
But today, design must become a core part of every company’s digital transformation. As the technologies and platforms in which you engage customers change — moving from a tactile brick-and-mortar store experience to AI-driven, highly personalized interactions, many elements of your business must adapt along with them.
Digital transformation requires you to go from a hands-off relationship with customers to a more intimate connection where you interact with them almost 24/7, wherever they are and on whatever device they use. To achieve this, you need creativity and great design, but you also need to use data to inform your creativity and to build empathy and use technology to streamline collaboration and scale your experience design. Here’s how you can use each of these things to build great customer experiences.
Every piece of content that a customer engages with on the path to purchase has to be informed by design, and that in turn, must be informed by data.
But before you even craft experiences, you have to get to know your customers. Data is a powerful tool for developing buyer personas, but you can’t just apply personas to marketing tactics. You must use them to design with empathy, moving the business closer to more engaged and connected customer relationships.
Empathy is an innate human ability, but it’s also an important part of the design thinking process because it requires your business to be laser-focused on the problem you’re trying to solve and to understand who you’re designing for.
Data can give you visibility into both these things and can reveal strengths and weaknesses in your experience design. We now have a whole array of strategic inputs we can infuse into the design and development process. In the digital era, every click and every purchase pumps a stream of real-time data you can transform into actionable insights. You can see how long people stay on your website and everything they do while they’re there. You can rigorously A/B test your pages, apps, and call-to-action buttons. You can review call center data, point-of-purchase and loyalty program data to understand offline customer interactions.
This is a brave new world for design organizations within the larger enterprise because designers have traditionally depended on creative intuition and training to design digital products. But today we have tools that allow design to powerfully marry human creativity with user research and behavioral data to make more informed design decisions that drive more empathetic customer experience.
Design can’t work alone to scale your customer experience. As your organization weaves data into the design process, it also needs to embrace tools that streamline collaboration between design and other parts of the business.
Consider the complexities of getting an app approved. If 12 people in three countries need to sign off on the UX design before you build a prototype, you need to streamline your review and approval process. The longer it takes to reach a decision, the more time your competitors have to put something better on the market.
Collaborative design platforms and design systems that bring all your digital design assets — from logos and layouts to typography and documentation — together under one umbrella can help you scale the customer experience and achieve efficiency and consistency, allowing your brand to speak in one voice to your customers.
These technologies also can serve as a bridge to fostering deeper partnerships throughout your organization, especially between designers and developers. This kind of relationship-building can empower your enterprise to unite around a shared goal of designing experiences that keep customers engaged along every touchpoint within the buyer journey, both online and off.
Creativity is still really important within the entire customer journey because how you interact with customers — whether it’s through an app, a voice experience, an email campaign or an in-store offer — affects their level of engagement, retention, and ultimately, their loyalty to your brand.
Enterprises often focus on product and marketing, but today, great customer experiences are fueled by great design Thankfully, there are more tools and resources than ever before, including behavioral data, collaborative design platforms, and design systems, you can use to create a differentiated, empathetic customer experience.
Regardless of what industry your company operates in, we are now all in the experience business. Design is no longer a secondary or purely supporting function when it comes to your customer experience — it’s indispensable to it.
Ashley Still is Vice President and General Manager of Adobe Document Cloud and Adobe Creative Cloud enterprise.
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