How to Design Customer Experience Using an Architect's Approach

by Chris McLean, on Apr 6, 2021 3:14:39 PM

Have you ever seen a Frank Lloyd Wright house? His homes are world famous masterpieces –with eight of them now inscribed as UNESCO world heritage sites. Aside from his unique aesthetic, what’s always amazed me was his ability to convert the initial designs into actual, real-life structures. After all, what’s the point of breath-taking design, if it cannot be built?

Beyond icons like Frank Lloyd Wright, the way in which any architect can make their vision a reality is through a very well-known and mature step-by-step process called the Architectural Design Process. We believe that in the post-COVID world, customer experience (CX) will need to adopt the same step-by-step rigor if businesses wish to remain competitive and meet their consumers’ rapidly evolving demands. We would even go as far to say that Service Design Thinking is the business world equivalent of the Architectural Design Process.

Frank Lloyd Wright Designed HousesFigure 1: Examples of Flank Loyd Wright Architecture

According to a recent Gartner study, 81% of marketers expect to compete mostly (or entirely) based on customer experience. Yet, your organization will not have a sound marketing strategy unless it ensures the customer experience design is personalized, implemented accordingly, and can show return on investment. Service Design Thinking – the codified approach to your customer experience strategy – works wonders at actually achieving a fully-formed design. What’s missing, however, is an end-to-end process that captures all the necessary steps towards implementing an effective customer experience. Accelare’s Purpose Driven Customer Experience (PDCX) uses a process involving specific stages, steps, and artifacts, similar to the architectural design process to combine the concepts of Service Design Thinking, behavioral economics, and Accelare’s Strategy to Execution methodology.

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How to Put an Architect’s Twist on the Customer Experience Design Process

In the construction world, architects oversee how the structure is designed and ensure the design is met. The architect’s role is broken down into a multi-step process called the Architectural Design Process. Essentially, the architect will start by laying out the general idea of what the homeowner wants, followed up by more detailed designs of the home, and later ensures the construction of the house meets the intended design.

An Architect’s Take on Customer Experience Design

3 Steps to Designing Customer Experience

Figure 2: The Three States of Customer Experience Design

To become the Frank Lloyd Wright of CX design in your organization, you will follow a comparable method, using a multi-stepped process broken down into 3 key stages:

  1. Customer Journey Mapping

    In the Customer Journey Mapping stage, you will work with the business owner
    to outline what they want the service to do. To do this effectively, you will need to outline:

    - Who you are targeting
    - What are the actions you want them to take
    - How you are going to get them to conduct each action

    Start the customer journey mapping by working with the business owner to gather a complete list of the features needed as part of the service offering.This will help establish the vision for the service. Next, create detailed customer personas capturing the psychographic traits of how your customers think, what motivates them, and what their values and attitudes are. Using a customer journey map, define key customer experience touch points or high-level phases of your interaction with the customers. While thinking about how to guide your customer to overcome cognitive biases, define the desired actions you want them to take at each touchpoint.

  2. Service Blueprint Design

    In the Service Blueprint Design stage you will develop a detailed flow diagram representative of the service provided. Much like an architect would work with engineers and experts of different disciplines like plumbers or electricians to develop their own layered set of blueprints, so should you. Start by using the customer personas to document what the customer is thinking, feeling, doing, and saying for each of the desired customer actions. Now you can work with subject matter experts (SMEs) across your organization to build service blueprints that reflect external and internal actions as your company works together to fulfill a service offering.

    Example of Service Blueprint Design
    Figure 3: Service Blueprint Example

    These service blueprints, much like swim-lane diagrams, should lay out the entire journey and display what you, the customer and any systems are doing along the way. Afterwards, using your service blueprints, look at the design with your team and identify any necessary capabilities to meet your design. Ask yourself: are there implications to any piece of software, websites, or a new role that you will need to hire, onboard, and develop training materials for? Any of these tasks should be identified as a project.

  3. Implementation Readiness

    The Implementation Readiness stage ensures you execute your customer experience design. Here you will build the project teams and develop necessary artifacts for implementation. We use the Strategy-to-Execution (S2E) methodology to ensure a successful project rollout. This includes creating Projects on a Page (PoP’s), working with the project team to build the necessary documents for implementation such as Standard Operating Procedures, business requirement documents, training materials, etc.

    Prepare to assist with any outstanding questions from the teams. We also recommend that you conduct a series of end-to-end tests of the process(es) you have designed using the service blueprint as a guide. You will want to conduct step-by-step walk throughs to make sure there are no gaps, everything is built to spec and ready to go for implementation.

Similar to how I admire the beauty of a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece as a viewer, your customers will enjoy the seamless interaction they have with your organization. Once your design is set in motion, you will want to establish metrics to make sure the customer experience design is working as desired and providing a return on investment. You can do this by setting up KPIs, OKRs and other measurements of success. Continuously gather customer feedback and data on the customer personas to keep your designs up to date.

How to Evaluate Customer Experience at Your Organization

Self-evaluating CX is no small task. Like anything else, an objective point of view and well-defined grading rubric can work wonders when trying to determine the most critical strengths and weaknesses in any current or future-state business program. Purpose Driven Customer Experience creates structure around customer experience that leverages proven concepts from the fields of behavioral economics, service design, and Accelare’s Strategy-to-Execution implementation methodology to bring a level of precision and discipline that any organization can benefit from.

Take the CX Maturity Assessment

To assess your organization’s current CX capabilities, use our quick free self-assessment tool.

Frank Lloyd Wright Image Sources

1)  Frank Lloyd Wright house in Minnesota dismantled and moved to Pennsylvania

2)  Frank Lloyd Wright’s Beautiful Houses, Structures & Buildings

3)  Frank Lloyd Wright home architect designed for son sells for $7.25 million

4) See the 8 Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings Just Named World Heritage Sites

Topics:Digital TransformationCustomer Experience

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