Great customer experience is not an accident— it's purposefully designed to achieve specific customer and business objectives and to meet the customer’s goals.

Improving Customer Experience is a Design Challenge

April 12, 2017

What is Customer Experience?

Customer experience (CX) is the cumulative impact of a person’s interactions with a company across all touchpoints for the lifetime of their relationship with that company. These span the customer journey across marketing, product delivery, and service experiences.

Changing or improving customer experience is not a simple design challenge. It requires research and observation across all channels of the customer journey to first fully understand the current state, then innovation to craft the ideal state.

If you are responsible for customer experience, and you don’t yet consider yourself a designer, we challenge you to think of yourself as one.

Gaps in customer experience are usually not limited to an application or user interface, so they cannot be solved by a single division or team within a company. Experience-driven organizations must work across internal silos and approach problem solving by looking at issues from the user’s perspective.

They need a shared knowledge of the current state, based on empirical data about how customers are actually experiencing their brand, not based on an individual’s perception, historical knowledge, or even by someone internal trying to replicate the external user’s experiences for themselves.

Most businesses don’t need to create flashy, attention-grabbing experiences to see measurable increases in revenue and customer satisfaction. In fact, the best customer experiences often are the ones that are the least noticeable; they happen effortlessly and without incident.

Why leaders are focusing on improving customer experience?


Companies cannot afford to ignore the impact of technology on their customers’ experiences. Now more than ever, experiences that used to take place in physical environments are happening online. The competition between primarily online businesses is fierce, with the digital experience standard continually being raised. The introduction of AI and predictive analytics across many businesses keeps companies competing, even with themselves, as they try to gain a more loyal following of customers.


Customer interactions have increased in complexity. Take grocery shopping for example. We used to make a list on a piece of paper, go to the store, pay, and go home. Now, we can type our list into our phones, add items to the list via our in-home smart speakers, or immediately place an order online. We can have the groceries delivered to our homes, even left in our refrigerators, or pick them up curbside at the store, without ever going inside. While it’s easier and more convenient than ever to go grocery shopping, this also means the opportunities for companies to fail on experience at any of these touchpoints is higher than ever.


Even in B2B and enterprise systems, users have come to expect ease and convenience. The bar is high. And if you don’t hit it, someone else will.


Innovation and disruption are increasing competition across all industries. Delighting customers can be a significant differentiator.

Delivering a cohesive customer experience that accounts for the proliferation of technology, increased complexity, high expectations, and crowded competitive landscape requires thoughtful, intentional design. Using design thinking and human-centered method to understand and shape experiences will pay dividends now and into the future.