A key to success in engineering design is to “start with the end in mind”. Not, what does the end solution look like, or what will the end functionalities be, but ultimately what does the customer want from the experience, what is the experience outcome?
My first exposure to customer experience outcomes driving design lit up my imagination. It provided me a deeper level of “groking” what the purpose of engineers, (creative’s through developers) coming together to make something for someone to use, was all about. In 20 years of creating human centered design products and services, I have become convinced when you lead the think to make process you realize success far more often when it is predicated by experience outcomes. This is a paramount foundational principle of Lean UX.
To understand the nature of the customer experience outcomes (CXOs) just think of the long standing tradition of executives focusing on business outcomes to plan and deliver successfully for their company. Business outcomes are deeper than simply identifying greater valued business benefits that are derived from, say an outsourced product. The desired higher business value outcome would be faster to market, reduction in errors, and reduced costs for creating along with an increase in efficiencies. A recipe for success for what to go build, starts with the perfect blend of business drivers, customer drivers and technical drivers. Customer drivers = the desired customer experience outcomes.
I would like to coin a new identity to signify this focus, XFE or “Experience Focused Engineering“. If the core team can root all direction in creating experiences that customers love, we all win. This seems to simplify, or allow for focusing on the right things and not the process itself. Most of the 15 plus principles found in Lean UX can be summed up into making sure all your activity, actions and results deliver on the CXOs. Those tasks the customer/end-user wants or needs (even if they don’t know how to articulate it).
Breaking CXOs down
Customer experience outcomes start by identifying the desired results for what the user is wanting to accomplish. Then you clarify those by determining the metrics for success – or the evidence that met the acceptable standard. The core team now knows what to build and that they are building the right thing. This is also known as “Backward Planning”.
What is a Customer Experience Outcome or CXO?
The CXO is the “Enabler” + “Criteria”
The Enabler is what the product or service does that enables the customer to do what they value most.
The Criteria is how that enabler meets/succeeds at what is being done to meet the customer’s needs.
CXOs are often defined by the UX Researcher from the best measureable customer insights. They are simple statements that operationalize the top criteria our customers. We use them to judge the desirability, usefulness, and usability of our products/experiences.
- CXO’s define: 1) A critical task a product must do. 2) How well it must be done.
- A set of CXOs for a product is a plan for success: “If we do these things well, then our customers will love the experience.”
- As actionable insights, CXOs serve as data-driven building-blocks for the user journey. In turn, scenarios bring CXOs together into coherent, relatable end-to-end stories.
- CXOs optimize the user flow process,providing a greater end result with less work and more confidence.
- CXOs are measured within a scenario. They provide focus, efficiencies and flexible means of predicting product acceptance via a better understanding of how our products are usable, useful and desirable.
People love products that …
Let them do things that are most important to them [what],
in ways that exceed their expectations [how well].
Example from my Sinclair Digital initiatives…
How do we define a CXO to focus on?
Customer Experience Outcomes are derived from the first steps of “Design Thinking“.
- Empathy for what the existing problem/challenge is.
- Observe how customers deal with it and identify the key issues.
- Ideate the possible outcomes that are of value.
- Frame up the known desired outcomes and present to customers to validate.
What makes for a great CXO?
Specific – It is clear what the customer wants/needs and it is clearly understood by the core team.
Measurable – We know what success will be when the experience is delivered.
Attainable – It is able to be delivered in the user flow and by the technologies being implemented.
Ranked – Priorities as the most valued experiences to focus on
Tied to customer insight – Clear evidence is available for the insight.
Scoped – Defined to the minimal valued component valued by the customer.
Note; A CXO is not an “end-to-itself”, It should not be stated as the “solution”.
For example: Show me the news in a video player, is not appropriate for a customer experience outcome
Some key benefits of driving from CXOs:
- CXO’s clarify and drive the priorities for what to build.
- Serves as the “north star” for consistent alignment through development
- Insight for considering new products, services and features
- Inspire innovation for solutions with greater ROI
- Allow for 1 to 1 direct comparison to competitive experiences
- CXO’s provide the premise of our value proposition to end-users
Focusing on CXOs is a critical Lean UX principle that seems to be very lightly dealt with in the books and blogs that I have read. I find it difficult for my engineering teams to be able to deeply understand its significance. Let alone review best practices for realizing its full potential in our Experience Focused Engineering. To that end I am putting some training together to help deliver this transformational product design process at another level. If you know of any best practices around harnessing and mapping out quality experience based outcomes, please share them with me in the comments section.
I genuinely hope this three part series has provided some real-world insights into your adoption of Lean UX for your agile teams. As I continue to mature my experiences in applying these principles I will continue to share the knowledge, I look forward to learning from your shared insights as well.