A while ago I wrote a post on my blog called ‘The customer is no longer king… he is God.’ In this post I argued that with the convergence between the virtual and the real world through mobile and social media, and the increasing value of the customer’s voice, brands will have to re-think the way they will remain relevant to people by adopting an outside-in approach at the core to their business strategy.

Putting people’s emotions at center stage

Many Brands these days are adopting the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a key metric to measure how well their products and/or services are being appreciated by their customers. In essence the NPS score indicates how many customers are loyal brand advocates (promoters), or brand detractors. This score is derived through surveys where the question ‘how likely are you to recommend this brand to friends and family?’ is posed.

The answer to this question is completely driven by the emotional connotation the asked person has with that specific brand. It is clear that what is feeding this emotion is the experience(s) the person has had with the brand in question. A useful service, an easy to use website, a beautifully designed product or a friendly and helpful voice at customer service. All of these experiences contribute to the positive emotional feeling a person has with a brand. But when these experiences are bad ones… the emotional reaction will be a negative one.

User Experience (UX) Design. Duh!!!

It comes as a no-brainer of course that, in order to ensure customers have positive, meaningful and memorable experiences with a brand; these experiences need to be carefully designed around the full understanding of what people want and need. We call this User Experience Design.

In my online design team at Philips Design I have the pleasure to be able to work with many great UX Designers like Martijn van Welie and Tom Schaafs (to name just two who have a personal blog). As User Experience experts they practice user centric design methodologies to come to design solutions that on one hand serve and meet customer needs and on the other achieve business goals.

Last September Philips launched the TV Buying Guide. An online guide that will help the customer to explore the TV portfolio of Philips based on their wishes and needs instead of marketing promises or dry specs. The Philips Design team created this experience and applied the UX Design practice to inform and design this website.

We started with researching the TV shoppers and to understand what is top of mind when they buy a TV. What drives them to buy a new TV? What questions do they have? Do they have any concerns? Do they understand which TV to choose that best fits their living room or bedroom?

And we mapped all of these insights onto what we call an ‘Experience Flow’.

experience flow

The ‘Experience Flow’ provided us with a map of the emotional and rational journey of a consumer from the initial triggering need to buy a TV, to the actual enjoyment of watching a movie once the TV is bought and installed.

It allowed us to see beyond the obvious and surface new potential opportunities for us to provide a better experience to the Philips customer while searching for the right TV for them.

prototype

Based on these newly identified opportunities the team started to generate ideas of possible new solutions we could create, and by prototyping and testing these ideas we were able to quickly understand if our consumers would appreciate such a solution.

final design

The concept testing gave us a solid base to then design and spec the TV Buying Guide ready for development.

Take the final TV Buying Guide for a spin here and let me know what you think!

(BTW, Philips is currently hiring new Sr UX Designers so if you are interested don’t hesitate to click here.)

But doesn’t that cost a lot of money?

Any User Experience should be carefully designed and tested BEFORE a product, touch point or digital ecosystem is developed and launched. Although it does sound obvious when I say it, it is often skipped by so many brands due to tight business timelines or ‘perceived’ high costs of the User Experience design effort. But have you ever considered the what its costs to not do this?

As this great movie shows, by Dr. Susan Weinschenk from Human Factors International, designing a good User Experience actually drives sales and maybe more importantly it creates happy customers and fosters brand advocates.

A concluding thought about UX and social media

Fostering brand advocates through practicing User Experience Design is the key to a brand social media success. And although the UX practice is often associated with web-design or application design, I think it can and should be applied when creating any experience; a product, service, website, content, social ecosystem, mobile app, packaging, point of sale, TV advert or any other touch point. It’s through embedding these methodologies at the core of how brands shape their propositions and experiences that brands will truly enable seamless and meaningful experiences for their customers, both online and offline. This to me at the end of the day is at the heart of any successful brand in social media. As a good experience of a brand will get people to talk about it offline and on!

Article originally posted on iStrategy Blog