Apple is famous for its commitment to design and customer experience—from little moments of delight (try asking Siri to make you a sandwich) to pivotal solutions (this shortcut for 911 calls).
But beautifully designed experiences aren’t just for big companies. Innovators like Apple have trained customers to expect that level of service, no matter where they shop. Outstanding CX isn’t just the sprinkles on top—it’s essential for small businesses trying to stand out from their competitors.
Effective design can turn real profits: according to the Design Management Institute, design-led companies beat the S&P 500 by 211% over a ten-year period up to 2015. By leveraging the power of design, small businesses can craft more engaging and satisfying experiences that bring in more customers and more revenue.
1. Break the mold with design thinking
Per Adobe/Forrester, 70% of design-led companies said their customer experience was better than their competitors. Beyond visuals, design is a way of thinking that prioritizes the customer’s perspective. By putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, design-led businesses can solve problems with creativity and empathy.
GE Healthcare went to children’s hospitals to talk to real patients about their new MRI machines, and learned how much kids hated to be inside the loud, frightening machines—often children had to be sedated. To craft a better experience, Doug Dietz and his team turned MRIs into “adventures,” designing machines like pirate ships or campgrounds. The design-driven solution led to a 90% leap in satisfaction scores. Design thinking led to an out-of-the-box solution to real customer problems, one they might have missed without asking for feedback.
Not all customer fears and pain points are that dramatic, but small businesses also have moments where potential buyers feel anxious or frustrated. Maybe a customer signs up for your service and isn’t sure how to use it, or stumbles over industry jargon. Instead of starting with the end product (“We need a Twitter account”), try working outwards from customer research to choose the best tools to help the most users.
According to Adobe/Forrester, 83% of design-led companies have systems in place to test ideas with customers. Build in user feedback from the beginning. Design thinking is iterative: by drafting ideas, testing (and retesting) with customers, and redesigning, you can move closer in increments to the best version of an experience.
2. The power of video
Video is a powerful tool to promote your company and draw in new customers. According to Forrester Research, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words of advertising.
When customers see long pages of text, they zone out—which is maybe why no one has ever read Apple’s Terms of Service agreement. For visual learners, videos are more engaging and exciting than long paragraphs of text. Video is especially helpful for companies with complex or high-tech products. For example, Questback, a customer and employee feedback platform, uses videos and animated graphs to make information clear and easy to understand.
Try using video for:
3. Revamp Your Website
According to Gartner, over 85% of the purchase decision process occurs online, with no human interaction. An intuitive website makes it easy for customers to find the information they need, before that final 15% of the process when they’re ready to talk to your rep.
A well-designed website builds trust, telling your customers that your company is up to the demands of modern users. That means no broken links or outdated visuals, quick loading times, up-to-date information, and pages that work on both mobile phones and desktops.
91% of businesses say that design is essential to the digital customer experience.
A great website creates a path for customers that anticipates what they need: they click on one page, to the next, to the next, learning more about what your service can do and what makes it the best solution for them.
Take a step back and look at your website from an outsider’s perspective. Is it easy to find your way around? Is it clear and approachable? Software like Mouseflow can help you analyze how customers are actually using your website, and what pages are working best.
4. Captivating email sequences
Relevant emails drive 18x more engagement than broadcast emails, according to research from Emma, an email marketing platform. This is pretty unsurprising: customers are more likely to open and click-through on emails that speak to their immediate needs, instead of getting flooded with spam. As a bonus, automating emails saves you time and energy while offering the personalization customers crave.
Automated emails are set up to respond to a certain “trigger” or customer action, like making a purchase or asking for information on the website. Email sequences can help close more sales, bring peace of mind to customers, and nurture meaningful long-term relationships. Here’s just a couple of moments where a well-designed email sequence can bring about measurable results.
5. Make the complex clear
Your customer experience doesn’t have to be just about your end user—it’s a helpful framework for everyone who has to buy in on your company. If you’re pitching to investors, you want to smooth out any “seams” in their experience with a clear and compelling presentation.
Visual aids can help customers and other stakeholders get their minds around complicated or abstract concepts. Especially for tech companies and other innovators, clear design is crucial to help customers understand what you do and why it’s important. Translate clunky tables or paragraphs of text into graphs or infographics. Use design to help visualize numbers and fuzzy industry terms.
For a step-by-step guide to boost your customer experience, join us for our NYC January workshop here.