After a couple year hiatus, I'm back writing for Harvard Business Review, and really excited to be doing so! Here's my latest piece, about making the leap from user experience to customer experience:
It’s one thing to create a great looking product that’s easy to use. It’s another to create a great experience that continues to improve, delight, and expand in scope over time. The first is user experience. The second is customer experience.
The two are often used interchangeably. But generally, user experience focuses on designing a particular device or screen and the interactions that occur on it, while customer experience stitches those together with many other touchpoints (front-line staff, promotional emails, store environment, etc.) spread out over time.
Here’s an example. Google Maps has long been the gold standard in mobile mapping applications. Nevertheless, Google continually updates Maps to make it even better– it has introduced 1-finger zoom (instead of the trickier 2-finger-pinch zoom), and the app now gives lane-specific turning instructions (“Take the left two lanes to merge on to…”)
These are examples of iterating the user experience: they improve the usefulness and usability of the app–but they are limited to finite interactions within the app itself.
However, Google is also moving to a more integrated customer experience across touchpoints. For example, the mobile and desktop versions of Maps share common histories of what you’ve looked for, which is great if you start looking up something at home and then hop in the car a few minutes later to actually go there. What you just searched for will be at the top of the recent history list in mobile. That’s smart and helpful.