The Importance of Customer Experience in Product Strategy
Customer Experience is a vital element of product development strategy that is often over-looked or under-appreciated. Traditionally, product strategy begins with capturing customer requirements usually in terms of product features or attributes. This is then translated into functional requirements or capabilities that the product must deliver. Customer experience is only captured as an after-thought, and when a product is put through the customer journey, it reveals many deficiencies that call for a product re-design and, consequently, a delay in time-to-market.
A product development strategy must be designed to deliver a compelling set of customer/user experiences rather than a collection of product features and attributes. Customer experience must therefore be factored in at the very outset of product design.
Customer experiences do not occur in product or functional silos. An end-to-end approach comprehending machine and human interactions is key to understanding customer experience. Delivering a "superior experience" begins with
· Designing the right offers and experiences for the right customers
· Developing, measuring, and delivering a total customer experience that enhances customer satisfaction
· Understanding the needs that drive customers to create interactions
It's the journey, not the destination! A customer journey maps the experience through the lens of the customer. It helps us identify:
· Customer lifecycle stages
· Customer needs within each lifecycle stage
· Key touch points where a company brand/product 'touches' and serves its customers
· Usecases which determine how the customer will use the product
· Challenges and hurdles for creating a satisfying customer experience
· Opportunities to 'engage' with the customer, and innovate & improve the customer experience
A customer journey must be addressed as a process map that examines concatenated processes. In the early stages, a product strategy must be designed to deliver a set of target customer experiences. The product design must be iterated and validated by examining how the processes that constitute the customer journey actually work at each step. We must walk through the journey and understand what's working and not working from a customer perspective.
Continuous improvement in customer experience can be enabled via
· a disciplined & pragmatic approach that correlates user experience to customer needs, usecases, product functionality, and brand strategy
· a systematic framework leveraging value realization methodology (e.g. Infosys's VRM) in conjunction with lean six-sigma principles to improve and optimize speed & efficiency, remove root causes of customer experience 'defects', and minimize variability in processes
· designing for target customer experiences and monitoring via quantifiable metrics to manage the customer journey and continuously improve the total customer experience across multiple channels and touch-points throughout the customer lifecycle.
It is thus important to weave a clear customer experience strategy into the fabric of the organization's product development strategy, especially in the B2C domain. This can be a significant enabler to improving a product's competitive positioning and lifecycle, the company brand, and customer loyalty.