HBR Investigates UX-Related Topics?

Most people who know me well as a professional are aware of my addiction to Harvard Business Review. To many of my colleagues and previous clients, why I like HBR is a mystery. Well, it should be a mystery no more: Experience Co-creation.

Yes, UXers, HBR does have articles related to UX that you will find interesting. What I like about this particular article is how personally relevant it is for me. I’m currently working as a researcher at a company that has recently hired a VP of Customer Experience. At first, I wasn’t sure what that would mean–customer experience is a fairly nebulous term to me. What is a ‘customer’ varies by industry, but where I do my work it can mean someone in a store, someone online, someone on a mobile phone, someone on a telephone, or a business person trying to create a relationship. So ‘customer experience’, by extension, is going to cover a very wide set of activities. Given such a large scope, how can one person possibly have any impact?

Well, the HBR article linked above proposes the concept of experience co-creation. For those of us who have been around for a while, that terms sounds similar to the dreaded concept of bringing users in and including them in actual design sessions. My past experience with that has shown me business is not a fan of such a process, and neither are some researchers. However, after working closely with organizations (read: Not as an offsite vendor), I’m inclined to think there are some merits. Especially in this day and age where technology is making brick-and-mortar locations less relevant, why not find a way to engage directly with your actual customers?

Honestly, recruiters can find people similar to your customers–maybe even people who are actual customers. However, you know for certain that someone in your store or on your website is an actual or prospective customer, and that makes them ideal for such co-creation processes. So why not grab them? Why not find out what you do currently that made them stop in or purchase from you? Why not find out why they didn’t purchase from you, and what would have tilted the scale in your favor? It’s these people that need to be addressed if companies want to improve their experiences.

And honestly, if you want to revolutionize your designs, wouldn’t that be a good way to gauge just how far you can push your new ideas? Or, to gain perspective on different pathways of development?