Customer Experience Interview with Fintan O'Byrne, Arekibo
Although our upcoming event with Sitefinity has been postponed we are continuing to share our speakers thoughts to keep you updated with what to expect. Firstly we had Fergal McHugh from Arekibo and then we had Ronan Smith from Central Bank of Ireland. Now we have Fintan O'Byrne from Arekibo discussing challenges he sees organisations facing in CX and how Arekibo is looking to the future in terms of improving CX.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m head of the User Experience (UX) team in Arekibo. Our UX team is composed of researchers, designers of all stripes as well as user interface developers. You can think about our work as encompassing everything that relates to the design of finished products that customers/users experience in their browser whether on a desktop, laptop or mobile every day.
What does Customer experience mean to you?
Customer Experience (CX) is very much an emerging field, and that it means different things to different people and it does overlap quite a bit with User Experience (UX). In practice they can seem more or less synonymous, however it is important to allow for their differences and for each to learn from the other.
For us, UX tends to have a somewhat narrower and more specialised focus on the experience of end users interacting directly with something we have designed. While UX has a focus on ease of use, CX tends to cover a wider scope across all channels both online and offline, taking in business strategy and marketing perspectives.
One other way that CX can differ from UX is time. CX can be used to describe the sum of all interactions that a customer has with an organisation over an extended period of time.
In general, the divergence between CX and UX increases proportionate to the scale, complexity and reach of a business.
Ultimately, I would see UX and CX as different but related perspectives on the same challenge, that is, for businesses to find effective ways to reduce friction in connecting to their customers and enabling them to accomplish their goals in a way that brings success to the business.
What challenges do you see organisations facing in CX?
There are 4 key challenges I can think of, that from my experience, are more or less universal - Internal alignment, customer focus, delivery process and governance. You can think about each of these as loosely associated to different stages of the life cycle of a project.
Internal alignment relates to the degree to which the businesses are united around the key challenges and problems that they are looking to solve for their customers. The more alignment there is, the more key stakeholders will be able to cite complementary success factors. As a result, we generally focus on this aspect first in our projects identifying key objectives and critical success factors for a project. Without this, it is almost inevitable that the project will hit unplanned speed bumps along the way, and then the dreaded ‘scope creep’ starts to kick in!
Customer focus takes in a range of research both quantitative and qualitative which places the customer or end user at the centre of the product design. Businesses that have a strong customer focus will invariably be investing their budgets on solutions that are proven to work for customers, whereas businesses that skip this important step may be jumping ahead to adopt solutions, that while well-meaning, may not always move the dial for their users.
Delivery process, is a big theme for us in Arekibo as we have moved decisively towards a more agile delivery process. This benefits the customer in several ways that I can’t do justice to here, but in relation to CX our agile process delivers by removing the ‘design by committee’ approach that can sometimes happen on projects where the team on the business side does not have a clear leadership role defined. Agile methodologies solve this problem through the Product Owner role. In addition, our process is open to change and when combined iterative user testing and feedback cycles, budgets become more focused on delivering value to the customer.
Governance is about guaranteeing ongoing success within the business and ensuring as much independence as possible. This involves agreeing governance processes around content ownership and approval processes on one hand and establishing standards around tone of voice, imagery, accessibility and writing for the web on the other hand. Governance also involves meeting the necessary skillsets across these areas as this is crucial to ensure the long term viability of the business’ investment.
From a CX perspective, good governance generally has the effect of ensuring business divisions and units are invisible to the end user as the website is architected around their goals. By contrast, a lack of governance often results in corporate sites that simply reflect the internal organisation of the company, not addressing customer needs and goals.
How is Arekibo looking to the future in terms of improving CX?
I would not presume to be far sighted enough to provide a long-term response to that question! However, we are certainly identifying some trends in the present day that are helpful in indicating where things are going in the relatively near future. Companies are adapting to customers’ changed expectations for what a website should achieve, and customers certainly no longer see websites as static entities.
There is now an expectation that organisations and brands deliver a cohesive message to customers across multiple channels. There is also an expectation online to be able to self-serve and access dynamic contextual help and support at relevant touch points.
In addition, recent weather events and COVID 19 are pushing organisations to adapt very quickly to unplanned events while offering business continuity. As a result every technology stack behind every website needs to power platforms that enable continuous improvement within the organisation. Such platforms roughly fit into the category of Digital Experience Platforms or DXP, and are tooled to meet these CX trends. These are some of the trends that we in Arekibo are actively engaging with our current clients on.
In a highly personalised, omni-channel CX world, brand loyalty is becoming increasingly fluid and harder to bracket within traditional marketing initiatives. Instead the marketing function is now infusing all levels of customer engagement as brand loyalty is secured or compromised on every interaction customers have with an organisation across channels and at every point in their customer journey, both online and offline. CX as a phenomenon as distinct from UX, expresses this new reality and in effect heralds its own future.
Learn more about the event, register your interest and get updates on the postponed event.