Design and the strategic value of experience

A 2011 American Express survey revealed that 78 per cent of consumers have not finalised a purchase because of a poor service experience. And most businesses are aware of the value of loyalty – a loyal customer is worth ten times their initial purchase


The many statistics pointing to the importance of the customer experience make an important point that experience is an area of risk businesses are not managing correctly.

According to leading experience design firm Method, it’s time for businesses to have different conversations about customer engagement; specifically, a conversation with a view to understanding how design fits into the formula for creating success in business.

Businesses that consider design to be logos, typography and graphics are missing out on the full array of what design can offer – experiences that drive customer engagement. Likewise, businesses that bring design to the table after they have defined products and services could be missing a vital layer of insight that helps understand what customers demand from their experiences.

“We want to create a better common ground of understanding between design and business,” says Patrick Newbery, chief strategy officer at Method. “We want the two sides to work together more efficiently to achieve business goals.

“Apple is a great example of a business effectively using design; the whole business is geared towards creating one cohesive experience. That only happens when a business realises it’s not just about the aesthetic – the role of design is addressing a business problem.”

Method believes that it’s important to think about the customer journey, timelines and multiple channels.

“People tend to think about this in terms of the sales or acquisition funnel, but what happens after purchase? How can you keep the customer engaged? These are discussion points you don’t typically see between business and design,” says Method chief executive Kevin Farnham.

Together Mr Newbery and Mr Farnham are publishing a book that is geared towards enabling this discussion – how design and business should collaborate to create better outcomes. Available in print and e-book from mid-August, Experience Design: A Framework for Integrating Brand, Experience and Value will address this gap and provide tools for businesses to partner effectively with design and create better quality experiences across the entire customer journey.

The authors urge businesses to consider all aspects of their operations, markets and assets, and consider how these can be aligned with the “intent” of the brand. Brand attributes should be tied to types of behaviour, not written out in brand guidelines that get filed on a shelf and never read.

“Today’s brand is typically something devised by brand consultants, presented in a boardroom, substantiated in an identity system of guidelines, and then everyone’s told to go out there and be brilliant and deliver the brand,” says Mr Newbery.

“A problem is that the intent of the brand doesn’t always translate into value for the customer. Now you’ve got a big disconnect between what the brand means and how customers actually see it.”

With a framework that addresses these challenges, Method is helping businesses think of experiences as a core strategy and aligning the value created for users across experiences and over time.

This framework reduces cost, improves coherence, and allows for a better appraisal of what customers look for, thereby increasing loyalty and repeat purchases. Given these, what business wouldn’t talk to design from day one?

Learn more about Method at www.method.com and pre-order Experience Design at www.experiencedesignthebook.com