5 takeaways from UX Strat Europe 2016

Take aways from the UX Strat conference 2016.

Now in its third year, UX Strat continues to attract leading experts from around the world in UX, CX and product and service design strategy.

As always it was a pleasure to take to the stage alongside esteemed speakers from UX practice, but to also present alongside Sarah Oey, Head of Commercial Fleet Marketing at Shell, to share how they turned CX strategy into reality.

With conversations happening on and off stage over two days there was plenty to reflect on. Our colleague Chris Spalton tirelessly captured them all in these beautiful UX Strat sketchnotes. It’s encouraging to note that despite the diversity of speakers and attendees, there were five clear themes.

1. Culture still eats strategy for breakfast

It was really exciting to hear agency and clients alike recognising that true customer focus requires businesses to make a cultural change. Sarah Oey from Shell hit the nail on the head when she explained that good customer experience “is not a project”. Instead, businesses need to embed new rituals, habits and instincts. We heard about a range of tactics including the creation of tools which create a shared language, such as customer journey maps. Michael Thompson from Telefonica reminded us that tools like journey maps are only useful when they are a “lean in task” – stakeholders need to be involved in their creation or they won’t be effective.

2. We need to design new organisations for design

With a customer experience culture in place, how can a business implement the right organisational structure to support this effectively? Teams need to be empowered to just ‘do what they need to do’. We saw companies addressing this through a variety of tactics including ING’s adoption of the Spotify ‘squads’ and ‘tribes’ working model, and Aegon who founded a design agency literally outside of the company’s walls.

3. The challenge pursuing speed in customer centred design

As to be expected, we heard a lot about the need to move quickly and leanly. There seemed to be a consensus around the importance of rapid experimentation, with many speakers showing examples of proof of concepts which they had tested ‘in the wild’. A particular highlight was Sofia Hussain’s ‘rapid tests’, where a new product proposition was tested with real customers, before it was actually available. Whilst she agreed that revealing to customers at the end of an application process that the process had been a test came with risks, she conveyed the value of asking participants to invest ‘more than just the click of a button’. Dr Carine Lallemand presented an interesting challenge to all in her talk around lean experiments by reminding us of the importance of research validity: “lean doesn’t need to mean it isn’t valid research”.

4. Algorithms + etiquette: where experience design meets data science

Do experience designers need to gain a better understanding of data in order to protect the customer experience? This was a question raised right at the start of the conference by Giles Colborne from CX partners, and it continued as a hot topic throughout. He argued that an understanding of data and the human impact it will have is vital in order to avoid the next UX fail – etiquette. Whilst users don’t care about the data, technology or arguably the interface itself, there is a real danger of a service over-stepping the boundaries if it does not learn the principles of etiquette.

5. Belief in experience design is not enough, we need proof in numbers

We consistently heard about the importance of quick wins and measurable improvement in order to inspire long-term change for businesses. Presenting with a client allowed Foolproof to share the measurable results which Shell achieved by relentlessly focussing on a short list of changes which could demonstrate measurable impact. This does not come without its challenges (often in the form of lengthy task lists and varying priorities) but we heard success stories where all stakeholders were able to align on a vision for customer experience and focus on a manageable and measurable list of changes to take the first steps towards it.

All the presentation slides are available to see on Slideshare. You can also dowload a PDF of all the UX Strat 2016 sketchnotes here.

Ensure you don't miss the next UX Strat event by following @uxstrat on Twitter. More content on developing a UX strategy here.

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