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Illustration for creating a customer experience design

What Is Customer Experience (CX) Design?

Lance Concannon

Mar 27, 2023

Consumers have increasingly high expectations of the companies they do business with. How they experience your company plays a role in whether they buy from you again, tell their friends and family, write a review, or run the other way! With your business’s future on the line, the customer experience (CX) shouldn’t be left to chance.

That’s where customer experience design (CX design) comes into play. Designing anything takes intention, thought, and a lot of testing to get it just right. When customers enjoy a well-crafted experience that caters to their needs and makes doing business a pleasure, customer satisfaction becomes a natural byproduct.

Here’s what customer experience design is all about and how to go about creating a CX design that gets noticed for the right reasons.

Table of Contents

What Is Customer Experience Design (CX Design)?

We define customer experience design as the process of molding every customer interaction. No matter which channels a customer uses to connect with a business, that experience has been carefully crafted to produce a desired effect or result. 

A brand will design customer experience interactions in order to create a strong impression, improve customer satisfaction, and help customers create better connections with the brand.

CX Design vs. UX Design

Not to be confused with user experience design (UX design), CX design focuses on broad customer interactions. It takes into account all the ways a customer engages with a business, including websites, mobile apps, email, social media, call centers, the sales process, and advertising and marketing.

User experience (UX) usually refers to how customers interact with a specific product or service, such as a software interface. User experience is a smaller piece of the larger customer experience pie.

What is the Purpose of Customer Experience Design?

CX design takes into account all of the customer journey touchpoints a customer may have with a business before, during, and after a purchase. For customer-centric companies, the goal is to appeal to customers — no matter when or how they engage with you — and delight them in these interactions.

On the surface, it sounds like CX design is just good business sense. When you create seamless experiences, customers take notice. They don’t have to jump through hoops to use your product or service, get in touch with customer support, or have their questions answered. 

When we dive deeper into the data, the value of CX becomes clearer. Studies show that 86% of customers will pay more for a product or service if it means a better experience. CX has become a brand differentiator in recent years, with more than two-thirds of companies competing on experience alone!

Take Apple for example. You can’t get their experience from any other company. From the interface of their iPhones to getting service at the Genius Bar in their stores, every detail has been carefully cultivated to create consistent, predictable experiences with the brand’s products and services.

Tip: Read more about Apple's marketing strategy and see the best user experience examples.

Customers want to feel valued. They want to do business seamlessly and want to connect with brands on the channels they prefer. When brands learn what experiences their customer base wants and expects from them, they can design those experiences to meet those expectations.

Benefits of CX Design

Applying design thinking to your customer experience strategy yields a range of benefits for businesses. These benefits allow companies to gain a competitive edge compared to businesses that haven’t yet made CX design a focus.

Businesses invest in customer experience design for many reasons:

  • To improve cross-selling and marketing
  • To retain more customers
  • To improve customer satisfaction

Let's look into those points.

Discover Customer Needs

To design customer experience processes, brands need to dive deep into every touchpoint to see what’s working and what’s not. They need a solid grip on the customer journey and how, when, and why customers engage with brands. This takes a lot of soul-searching, and in doing so, brands may uncover customer needs that aren’t yet being met. 

Finding these opportunities gives brands a chance to improve. By addressing these gaps in service, companies can step up and meet those needs, giving customers more reasons to do business with them.

Meet Customers Where They Are

The customer journey is constantly changing. As brands explore how to create better experiences, communication channels will come into the process. Not being on the same channels as your customers means missed opportunities to connect and grow. 

Learning how to design customer experience processes gives you a clearer path to meet customers where they are. Connect in ways that matter to your customers to reduce friction and make them feel more positive about your brand.

Increase Sales with Upselling and Cross-Selling

Happy customers are more likely to buy from you than new customers. Creating great experiences can improve customer satisfaction, which increases your chances of continuing to sell to them. 

Increase sales with upselling

Giving your customers the experiences they want keeps them coming back. This is a great way to not only retain customers but also build brand advocates who will refer you to others.

Reduce Marketing Costs

When you have strong customer relationships, your current customers can augment your marketing. They’re more likely to refer you, share your content on social media, and buy new products and services from you. They may even create some user-generated content on your behalf!

All of these things can mean lower marketing costs for you. It costs less to market to current customers than new ones. Plus, your customers will help to introduce more people to your brand.

Key Customer Experience Design Principles

CX design principles play a significant role in the success of your experiences. The most influential principles include:

The Customer Journey

Part of a well-developed strategy means understanding all of the nuances that go into the customer journey. This journey no longer takes the linear format it used to. Customers are discovering your brand and entering the sales funnel in more ways than ever. More customers want to guide their own journeys and involve sales teams much later in the process (if at all). 

Customer experience design principles include all the moving parts of the customer journey when cultivating experiences. This ensures brands can give customers what they need at any point in the journey.

Goal Setting

Goal-oriented customer experiences are a key part of a CX strategy. They allow brands to connect the dots between an experience and the desired action resulting from that experience.

Attaching goals to CX allows you to track your progress and see whether your experiences stack up to expectations. If you don’t deliver on those goals, you’ll know you need to rethink your approach.

CX goal setting

A Human-Centered Element

Despite the trend toward self-service sales and support, customers still want to interact with real people. That’s why a human element will always be a critical part of CX design.

People make other people feel good. They infuse emotion and empathy where machines cannot. They offer personalization that comes from the heart and recognize customers’ needs and wants that simply can’t be replicated by technology.

Adding a human-centric touch to your customer experiences is imperative for success. While you may rely on chatbots, forms, and automation to support certain tasks, it’s important to empower your employees to serve your customers in impactful ways.

Departmental Collaboration

The role of a service design professional is not an isolated one. Rather, it requires strong collaboration skills across all departments that interact with customers.

The best experiences are co-created by those who are intimately involved with customers. They have direct insights into customer interactions and hear feedback from customers every day. No one knows your customers' pain points better than those on the front lines.

Get input and buy-in from your social media customer service teams, contact center teams, salespeople, and marketers. If you have brick-and-mortar stores, get your in-store employees involved in shaping better face-to-face experiences.

Tip: Learn more about co-creation and co-branding.

CX Blueprint: Documentation

As you design the customer experience, documentation will become your CX blueprint.

It gives you a guide to go back to when tweaking your experiences. You can then easily revisit areas that may need improvement without reinventing the wheel.

How to Design a Customer Experience

Designing a customer experience end to end can take multiple paths, depending on the experience channels, your business goals, and your products or services. Let’s look at some key principles and best practices you can apply to the design process.

Think Like a Customer

Every CX designer is also a customer. As a consumer, you know what you expect from the companies you do business with. You know how you feel after certain experiences. Knowing how to think like a customer, you can apply those same key principles and expectations to your own experiences.

Get inside your customers’ minds to see how they view your business. Learn more about their customer journey, pain points, and sentiments toward your brand. 

AI consumer insights software like Meltwater Radarly makes this faster, easier, and more effective. You can learn more about how customers really feel instead of relying on guesswork and surface-level information from reviews and feedback surveys.

Get Buy-In at Every Level

Everyone in your organization, from the C-suite to customer-facing employees, should recognize the value of a strong CX strategy. Get their buy-in so they can participate in problem-solving and help to spot opportunities for improvement.

Do Competitor Research

Making improvements to your own experiences can sometimes start from the outside-in. Look at what people are saying about your competitors’ experiences. What do they complain about? What do they wish your competitors did better?

Those answers could be key to designing your own experiences. Do what your competitors aren’t doing, and you may earn more loyal customers.

makes this process easy, too. Competitive benchmarking keeps you a few steps ahead of competitors by showing you where to optimize your strategy.

Measure Your Efforts

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Your CX can deliver an ROI, so it’s something you’ll want to track and measure over time. Operational metrics and KPIs like CSAT scores, Net Promoter Scores, customer lifetime value, and churn rate can all indicate your experience strategy is working.

Tip: Learn how to measure the customer experience and display it using customer experience dashboards

Revisit Your CX Design Often

Your customer journey map, target audience, products and services, and other factors are all likely to evolve over time. Your competitors may also wake up one day and decide to make CX their new battlefield. That’s why the work of a CX designer is never truly finished.

Make it a priority to revisit your CX frequently. Make sure it aligns with your brand promise and values. Use customer feedback to continue making changes that add impact and value. Continuous improvement is a hallmark of a great customer experience that truly delivers.

Using Meltwater for CX Design

A great service experience starts with data intelligence — and Meltwater can help.

Our AI-driven consumer insights platform gives you direct insight into your customers’ experiences.

It listens on social media and across myriad other digital and offline channels, allowing you to learn how customers are talking about your brand. Use this intel to make valuable improvements to your CX and design the experiences your customers deserve.

Take a free tour today!