Defining a better customer experience

By 06/02/2017 No Comments

At FCV Labs, we’re in the business of designing and building better experiences.

Really, though, it’s not just about better experiences. It’s bigger than that. We want to create brilliant experiences. Experiences that surprise, delight and keep people coming back for more.

Better user experiences is a given. But as business-to-business product specialists, for us, it also means creating a better customer experience for the provider of that experience too – after all, they’re the ones that keep the lights on.

So how can we create brilliant experiences?

Understand brilliant experiences

Crafting a better experience starts with an understanding what makes a brilliant customer experience – experiences so good that you can’t help but tell others about them.

What makes an experience surprisingly delightful can be tricky to define because it’s constantly evolving.

Customer expectations are rising. The rise of mobile means we’re always on, always connected, and we want instant gratification.

As technology evolves, supporting and enabling that demand – customer expectations rise and it becomes the new normal. The baseline shifts and if you can’t keep up, you don’t survive.

The goalposts for a better experience are constantly shifting. We need to be plugged in and understand the changing landscape of user needs to help us design better experiences. For now though, let’s simplify a brilliant experience into three simple elements:

  • It’s valuable – it’s worth using because it delivers real utility and value
  • It just works – it’s functionally so simple and easy you want to use it
  • It’s mine – it’s personalized and intelligent enough to know what I want

If a product can first provide value, work properly, and provide personalization, we think we’re on track for providing a brilliant experience.

These elements are not binary so there’s still subjectivity in evaluating them, but they help us recognise a continuum of value, function, and personalization on which we can continually push for more. And our trusty NPS (Net Promoter Score) helps keep us honest in determining how well we’re doing at achieving it.

Focus on what really matters

When we’re creating products, we create a product vision which articulates our user’s needs.  That vision is our North star for what we’re trying to build and for whom.

So how do we stay focussed on crafting brilliant experiences along the way?

We ensure we’re focused on what really matters – a brilliant experience – by building it directly into our process.

So here’s a sneaky peek under the hood of how we work at FCV Labs. We love working agile and we find scrum is a useful approach to help us refine the mechanics of delivering:

  • The right things (Neil, our product owner is large and in charge here)
  • Developing them right (Mark, our technical lead, is keeping us honest)
  • Developing them fast (As scrum master, I’m cracking the whip to ship!)

It’s a healthy tension. In part, it’s thanks to the requirements, where we use user stories to define who, what and why we need any given piece of functionality. Each story comes with acceptance criteria and definition of done. They’re the quality standards that we apply in a sprint review meeting to ascertain whether or not something can be shipped, or not.

Knowing done ≠ brilliant

Do you want something done, or something brilliant? If it’s an option of one or the other, I’ll take done, every time. But it’s not an option, it’s a mindset.

When we’re working agile, we often say let’s make it ‘good enough’ and iterate. It’s better to ship, get momentum, feedback and then adapt where necessary. Right?

Where we can lose our way is in the mediocrity of settling with ‘good enough’, and never giving space for the magic happen. We pat ourselves on the back with shipping at a good velocity and lose sight of the ultimate goal – enabling a brilliant experience.

Believing brilliant > done

As a product’s development progresses, brilliant experiences need more than definitions of done and acceptance criteria. We need to keep re-orientating ourselves back to the ultimate outcome and ensure what we’re building is rooted firmly in the user and their broader needs we outlined above; providing value, just working and being personalized.

If we’re going to craft brilliant experiences we find we need to ensure we’re perpetually re-aligning with the overall product vision and the user needs so that we reach the best possible outcome.

There can be a tension between brilliance and shipping, so we’re trying to change our mindset of success. Rather than evaluating progress from a binary pass or fail in a sprint review, we’re instead evaluating everything we do on a continuum of brilliance.

In the same way that we maintain quality by defining acceptance criteria, we’re defining brilliant to ensure we maintain it.

Welcome to our brilliant

Here’s what our brilliant looks like right now. Everything we make should be:

  • Really, really simple.
  • Delightfully fun to use.
  • Super duper quick.
  • Platform/integration agnostic.
  • Completely decoupled, but tightly integrated.
  • Totally toggleable.

We’re not done yet – it’s a moving feast that we’re going to be continually refining. It’s a wishlist of wonderful rather than a binding contract. It’s a mix of the subjective and preferable to help us continue to make bold, courageous, right decisions.

This is how we’re building better, brilliant experiences.

What do you think?

What’s your definition of brilliant (or awesome)? What do you think contributes to a better experience?