What do we mean when we say “customer experience over functionality?” We’re talking about making sure the customer isn’t thought of in a series of features. Every brand and product provides a customer experience, and it’s a brand’s job to find out what that experience entails. While it can mean different things for different industries, most often the customer experience encompasses a consumer’s perceptions of the brand and/or product as a result of the variety of touchpoints or interactions they’ve had.
Functionality certainly factors into the customer experience, and identifying customer needs based on features is a relevant and important part of it. But it is the summation of functionalities that make up the customer experience—because customers are much more than the features they use.
Creates a Deeper Understanding
One of the most important benefits of highlighting the customer experience over functionality includes being able to gain a deeper understanding of consumers. Instead of asking what features consumers want, teams can approach consumer problems by understanding the customer’s situation based on needs, solutions, and motivations—not just features.
Take, for example, a consumer segment that shows a desire for a calendar app. A feature-based approach to this problem would entail determining what features the collective group of consumers wants. But approaching this need based on specific customer experiences means a product team can learn that this customer is a mom who needs an app to manage her and her children’s schedules, so she can feel in control and confident in being a working mom. In this way, the team can better tailor the features and their messaging to hold more impact and appeal to their customer segment.
Creates Stronger Relationships
A deeper understanding of consumers also means stronger relationships—in a variety of ways. Just as you learn more about an acquaintance, the more likely they become a friend, and so too can you build stronger relationships with consumers. Research into the customer experience typically means understanding consumers when it comes to their product usage, behavior, attitudes, and emotions. Applying these learnings in order to create a more personalized experience, whether it be with the brand or product, increases customer retention, loyalty, and satisfaction. Further, developing communications based on the customer experience creates a more cohesive brand and product strategy, and is more likely to resonate with consumers on a deeper level.
Identifies Opportunities for Improvement
Rather than just conducting research on a product, often research into the customer experience is exploratory in nature and can help identify unmet needs or new opportunities. For example, research that seeks to understand how a product is used could end up identifying a need for an additional product outside of the scope of the product being researched. How to make use of understanding the customer experience is also important. Just knowing it isn’t enough and how a brand activates upon it is what truly drives the value in customer experience research.
Working towards highlighting the customer experience in business objectives isn’t a challenging process. Utilizing exploratory research methodologies, shopper insights, or attitudes and usage studies are a great starting point. To see an example of an exploratory research group in which we seek to understand the customer experience among financial services customers, download the report below. You’ll also learn about the differences in expectations of financial providers between Millennials and Gen Xers customers.