One of my favorite programs is a bit on the show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” called “Not My Job”. Host Peter Sagal asks famous guests about a subject that has some connection to them, but is not related to their job and hilarity ensues: Quarterback Tom Brady is asked about The Brady Bunch; Actress Aubrey Plaza is asked about the Plaza Hotel; and so on.
As a designer, I sometimes wonder how hilarious it must be for non-designers to hear us discuss the difference between design specialties such as User Research, User Experience, User Interface, Interaction, Product and more. Sure, there is a difference between these roles that is valuable to understand, particularly in larger organizations and if you want to learn about those differences, there are a multitude of articles you can read on the subject. I suggest this article.
Still, spending more than a few minutes on these discussions can be hilarious because they focus on the designer and the importance of the designer rather than the customer and the customer’s needs and problems. The heartening news, however, is that this discourse is beginning to evolve and encompass the Customer Experience. The trick here is to understand that the Customer Experience includes User Experience, User Interface, Interaction, Product Design and more. In fact, it includes much, much more. Customer Experience Design is design that addresses every aspect of a customer’s experience with a company. It could be a digital, phygital, personal, social, media or any other experience with a company and could even include those over which a company has little to no control.
Customer Experience Design requires designers to think and act more holistically with both the customer and business needs in mind. It pushes designers to think and act beyond pixels, beyond information architecture, beyond digital touchpoints and consider a more collaborative approach to integrate and work with the whole business to engage and support customers. Customers do not care if a User Experience Designer or User Interface Designer or Interaction Designer is involved in the creation of a product or service, they care if it is useful and valuable in their lives. They care if they are able to accomplish their goals with the product or service and if they can get the support they need when they have difficulty completing their goals. And, creating a product or service that successfully meets customers’ needs requires a team of designers, developers, information technologists, marketers, sales representatives, customer support representatives and more. So, rather than focus on differences, let’s focus on our shared understanding of and background in design-thinking and consider how we can bring this to our teams and organizations for the benefit of the customer.
Specializing in a particular area of design is valuable. Now, consider how to adapt and apply that value as a generalist for the benefit of the customer and business. Even small efforts can go a long way: Reach-out internally to experts in other departments to get input on and offer design support for their roles and interactions with the customer; arrange feedback sessions to understand how design can better serve the business; or meet with customers in the environments in which they use the business’ product or service to gain better understanding of needs. Whatever the method, find a way to spread design-thinking throughout the organization to add value for the customer and business.
AIGA 2017: Designers make this ONE mindset change in 2018, Bobby Ghoshal, https://youtu.be/nGX70EOI6f0
How Designers Turn Into Design Leaders, Jared Spool, https://articles.uie.com/how-designers-turn-into-design-leaders/
How Disney Works to Eliminate the Words “That’s Not My Job” from its Organization, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/sponsored/2018/02/how-disney-works-to-eliminate-the-words-thats-not-my-job-from-its-organization