Hi Jon, tell us about yourself and your background.
I was always into both science and art as a kid, so when I discovered Ergonomics back in the 1990s I finally felt I’d found the right thing for me – a bit of people, a bit of creativity, a bit of science, a bit of tech. I never looked back… I’ve worked mainly for blue-chip companies and in design agencies, but recently I’ve moved to working in government. I like the balance where I can switch to creating or analysing or facilitating or communicating. I’ve had exec jobs where it was all meetings and no creation, and I wasn’t very happy. I try to find roles these days where I can bring a human-centred design mindset into organisations who don’t really get it yet, and I can also be the creative designer at the start of their journey.
How did you first start working in the CX space?
What are some of the common misunderstandings related to customer experience?
I’ve moved from working with teams of ace designers to working with organisations who haven’t made the leap to a design-thinking mindset. So I see the most common misunderstanding is that CX is *for* the customer. I have a bit of a rant these days when someone says “we have to balance the customer experience with the [business/risk/security/brand]
Have you seen any interesting new trends in eCommerce this year?
I have not worked in eCommerce since my consultancy days – I’ve been in finance and government. So I can only comment as an outsider. The big slow trends I see seem to be that the shopping experience is more standardised, payment systems are becoming slicker, delivery info is clearer… the CX expectations of customers must be so much higher these days. Differentiating factors will be coming back to the business basics – brand, communications, distribution and service. Do you get to tell the customer that you have the product? Can you supply faster than other competitors? Do customers come back? I would imagine that your actual online presence needs to be perfect – fast and error-free – or you will be rejected in seconds. And the need to keep customers loyal means you need great, personable service. The companies who do things like drop an actual hand-written note into the parcel of that first purchase will be edging ahead, I would guess.
eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?
Again, this is not my field. But consumers will be getting quite review-literate these days. They can tell the difference between a paid review and a real review, they will be put off by reviews transplanted from one specific product to the one they are actually looking at, they understand that angry 1-star reviewers aren’t always rational or representative. Personally I would say that reviews are a lag indicator and if you’re getting your business right, reviews will protect your growth, and if you’re having difficulties, trying to use or fix reviews means you’re looking in the wrong place. If you have everything humming so well that you can put some effort into a review optimisation strategy to squeeze a bit more acceleration, then you’ll be good enough to get that right already. If I was a startup and my product was unknown, I would be leaning in to every sale and asking more than once for a review, because you need that presence.
What are some CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
I’m a massive Miro convert – I was due to travel to every State capital and run all-day workshops, and then the latest Covid lockdown hit Sydney where I live, and I had to convert my very careful workshop structure into an online workshop. I’ve just finished running them and they worked really well, because Miro totally gets what happens in workshops and they’ve nailed the functions. There’s timers with music, dot-mocracy, great locking functions to stop people breaking things… Miro saved me and the project’s progress. I’m so grateful. I should leave them a review 🙂
So many things changed in 2020. While some things are going to return to “normal,” what are new trends and habits you think will stay with us in the long term?
There must be so much commentary on this so I’ll pick up my favourite change – work has become a little more humanised. In the early stages of lockdown there was that viral clip of the expert being interviewed on the news and his toddlers wandered in, and his nanny scrambled to drag them out, while he pretended nothing was happening. For people like me who were already working at home one day a week, having your dog or child interrupt used to be embarrassing and ‘unprofessional’. But we’ve all seen inside each other’s home lives and real lives during forced telework and we’ve heard so many kids and pets in the background so it’s all fine now. In a workshop this week the team asked me to bring my dog Tommy into view. While we were waiting for someone to bring up some content my son was nearby so he juggled on the screen. We had a rule in my previous team that if a child interrupted you (homeschooling) we stopped the meeting and had a GIF competition where everyone put up a funny GIF and the child chose a winner. It’s been tough being at home so much, and everyone being a bit more real and less official is a really good change that I think we won’t walk back from. Well I won’t, at least.
Do you believe focus groups are still relevant in the era of eCommerce? Why?
Focus groups get a lot of bad press, because they are one of the hardest methods to get valid data from, but also a method many people outside of research are comfortable with – so you end up with a lot of bad focus groups. I wouldn’t give a blanket judgement on any methodology – if you have a particular context and research aim, well-run focus groups might be just the right thing. You have to treat every situation individually. Every bit of research should be customised. So yes, they are still relevant. And no, you probably shouldn’t be using them. It’s great if the actual designers have the skills to run them.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
This isn’t what you mean, but my favourite measure is when you’re towards the end of the design process and you’re testing something and the participant just doesn’t understand why you’re testing it. The best designs are obvious… once you’ve invented them. My favourite actual CX metric is the success of the business. Which particular CX metric is a leading indicator of that is different for different businesses; NPS is great for new entrant eCommerce (because it predicts growth) but it’s less useful for Government. I think you need to pick a lead CX indicator that you think matches your business, the stage you’re at and your market – what aspect of CX indicates you’re likely to succeed?