Here Be Dragons, Customer Experience Dragons

Here be Dragons”, is what they used to say on old maps to mark a place of undiscovered waters.

But what is a Customer Experience Dragon (CX Dragon)?

Well it’s not a CX Ninja, because Ninja’s spend their lives mastering skills that have been past on from master to master.

And it’s not a CX Champion.

No, it’s not one of those.

It’s a hunter. A hunter who discovers new customer experiences and innovative opportunities. An explorer of the undiscovered who spends their time tracking down and slaying those CX Dragons.

For me, the Customer Experience Dragon is all about the thrill of the chase and the chance of discovering the next big solution, the opportunity of experimenting and pushing the boundaries. Above all, its is about putting the customer at the centre of this new fast pace digitally evolving world and be willing to learn something new.

So I say, if you believe in following the masters of CX, then be a ninja.

But if you want to explore the more thrilling undiscovered waters of customer experience then be a Hunter and help me hunt down those CX Dragons.

“Who will ride with me?”

The Paper Plane Challenge

The Lab's Paper Plane Challenge

The Lab’s Paper Plane Challenge

Great for teaching continuous improvement through customer engagement and creative thinking. The Lab’s Paper Plane Challenge has now been Battle Tested and perfected with nearly 700 people up and down the country.

So how did it start? 

Over a year ago the CEO of O2 approached Nic Whatmore and I (Jez Sherwin) to create a fun activity to run with 250 people at the next IT Conference. In the brief we had been given a time slot of 1.5 hours and the theme of the day was Disrupt. We were also told that everyone will be seated on tables but there was lots of space around the venue for activities.

So how did we come up with the idea?

Well we didn’t want to just disrupt, we wanted to DISRUPT The Labway and bring this IT event to life! So Nic and I went crazy with ideas. It’s always fun when you take off the gloves and throw around lots of ideas.

After going a few rounds with Nic we came up with the concept of The Paper Plan Challenge. It was perfect and it ticked all the boxes.

On The Day.

Just over two weeks later, Nic and I were standing on a platform in front of 250 people, introducing The Paper Plane Challenge (nerve racking, just a little). As part of the introduction, I got everyone to build a 60 second paper plane and throw it at Nic. This got them giggling and the ice was broken. We then introduced the iterative learning cycle, the three challenges (including Kevin the pilot) and the three attempts for each challenge along with the scorecards. Last but not least we said “everything you will need is in the big envelopes on your tables”, notice how we didn’t say you must only use the content of… remember that word Disrupt.

Ever herd of the Butterfly Effect, well we had lots of that with our 1 hour challenge.

Even though the time was short, some teams spent all their time building then testing away from the attempt stations until it was too late. Another team failed too fast by sticking with the same plane and doing three attempts one after another and some teams tried to throw more people into trying to get more points, and still ended up with only 20 points.

Then all of a sudden one team started to think out of the box and got a whopping 156 points. They had disrupted the room, word spread fast and other teams started to think sideways and the scores on the board started rocketing. We had disrupted the people’s perception and teams started to get creative in solving problems.

From the event feedback we got, we then introduced a CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) score and turned the Judges into Customers. For The Paper Plane Challenge this was the icing on the cake and we have been running these events very successfully with schools and teams up and down the country.

If you are interested in finding out more or thinking of running a team challenge, do tweet me @jezsherwin or contact me on Linked In.

Wow! My Design Sprint Is In O’Reilly’s New Design Sprint Book

Since I joined The Lab nearly two years ago, I have been keen to try out and experiment with iterative learning processes such as Lean UX and Design Thinking.

One of these processes is called a Design Sprint, originally used at Google Ventures. The Design Sprint process follows a collaborative 5 day sprint with a co-located team.

For the Design Sprint which I ran in The Lab, I generated the Design Sprint Plan pictured below. The aim was to help the people on the sprint and in the workshops understand what will be happening on each day through out the week, and it worked.

On the plan there are big arrows which hold the post-it note tasks for each day. The circles at the base are for the people who are on the sprint each day and the two half circles off to the right, are for the outcomes of the sprint, primary and secondary.

I posted this photo up on my @jezsherwin twitter account and it is now in O’Reilly’s new Design Sprint book, which is a great book and a must have if your thinking of running a Design Sprint.

5 Day Design Sprint

5 Day Design Sprint

Is UX Design Clicking?

Last year I was walking through a book shop and this book jumped out at me, maybe it was the title ‘Clicking’ or the impact of the bold graphic cover, whatever it was I ended up getting it.

The book Clicking was about how and why some people click. The book talked through different scenarios, such as hostage situations, sharing interests and even sharing DNA patterns such as thumb prints, all very interesting.

After reading this book one thing really stuck in my mind, a story about computer user testing, it went something like this…

Tests were done with two sets of people group A and group B

Group A where asked to use a computer that was running slow and struggling with an standard user error messaging, then the users were asked “how does this computer make you feel?”, key emotions such as frustrated, annoyed and even angry.

Group B were given the same struggling computer, but this time the computer communicated to the user how it feeling, it said something along the lines of “I know you want me to run faster, but I am really struggling at the moment, I’m so sorry if I could go faster I would etc.”.

This time, the results were totally different, the computer had created empathy, this empathy left the users feeling calmer and some even felt sorry for the computer.

So this left me thinking, as UX designers are we really clicking with these powerful human traits?

How can poor UX Design increase sales?

Encouraged by her sister, my wife ordered the weekly shop online for the first time last week. She seemed to get frustrate at certain points asking for help, but in the end she completed the order and set the delivery for Thursday.

Job done, now all she had to do is to sit back and wait for the nock on the door.

When the order arrived, she was quiet shocked to see the size and quantity of some items she had ordered:

  • 3 large broccoli trees enough to do a Sunday roast for the hole extended family
  • 2 big boxes of size 4 nappies, only hope my son doesn’t grow over the next 2 months
  • 3 big pieces of ginger which should last us till Christmas as my wife doesn’t really like ginger
  • 2 packets of grapes, this was a results as the kids love grapes
  • 2 packets of large apples when normally we would get the small ones for the kids
  • A great big bag of basmati rice
  • Well you get the picture…

Over ordering on your first shop seems to be pretty common practise with the people I have talked to. A chap at work ended up with two big carrier bags of aubergines. Even the delivery man said “you seem to like a lot of broccoli in your family? Don’t worry I made the same mistake on my first order”

So is this poor UX Design or master plan to make more sales?

Whichever it is, it is a learning curve, for the new weekly online shoppers.

Now That’s Class, Grayson Perry

Love this, I was recommended to watch this by Vics at DDB Tribal.

If you’re looking for insight into Britain’s classes of today then watch “In The Best Possible Taste” by Grayson Perry on 4oD. See how Grayson Perry goes on a voyage of discovery to create modern day tapestries of the working, middle and upper classes of today.

Great for personas, empathy mapping, customer insights and more. The middle class research is done in Tunbridge Wells which is my local town… Won’t say any more, I’ll let you enjoy the program.

Design For Feedback (DFF)

Why Design For Feedback (DFF), why not design to finish, it needs to be finished sometime?

When I first arrived at my current employers, I found some digital designers would pick up a design project at the beginning of the sprint and demo it at the end of the sprint to the product owner. I remember seeing one piece of design work being finish and demoed three times in a row. This meant that three weeks later the designers and product owner were getting frustrated with the lack of progress.

Design for feedback was the key, using white board rapid sketching we created a visual conversation with the product owner. This allowed both the Agile team (Dev, Design, IA etc) and product owner (client) the opportunity to build up a conversation around the problems, the solutions were discussed and visualised through rapid sketching on the whiteboard.

Capturing the white board scamps, we then started creating low fi designs, with the aim of discussing the evolving designs every 2-3 hours.

Remembering that we were still designing for feedback we took out the unneeded complicated design elements and the Design For Feedback process evolved from low fi designs to polished ideas.

This constant Design For Feedback process kept evolving far after the site pages went into user testing and then live. Every day the pages were live they were giving valuable user insight back into the evolution of the living pages.

In a nutshell Design For Feedback added value by improving communications and speed, whilst reducing design waist.

Also see continues delivery

In steps the Agile Mini Wall

So there you are in your war room or wall, you have done a few days of an Agile Inception. You now have the business model licked and a collection of customer insights, empathy maps and user journeys path the way to creative envisioning and a back log of user stories.

If only. The fact is, not every project is large enough to warrant a war room or its own wall. Projects such as banner designs, campaign landing pages or micro sites are all small projects that are sometimes pushed through one scrum all at the same time.

This means that getting an insight of where that wireframe came from would be helpful, but having no insight into the problems they are solving leaves the Visual Designers reverting back to guessing what is right.

So, in steps the Agile Mini Wall.

Having a Mini Wall will add value to small projects. Your Mini Wall will give a visual insight into the history of business, customer and technical goals. You will be able to understand the projects pains and gains at a glance.

Just like mobile first, you will discover that by reducing down a war room of information into the space of an A1 poster will help really focus the team on what matters.

A CD stuck on fast play

The speed the digital world is evolving is mind blowing, at this rate even the Bionic Man would need an upgrade every week.

Take a snap shot of today. We use lean and agile delivery processes, we want to fail early, visual web design is being driven by UX, responsive web design and gamification are the trendy words of the moment, Ipads are out selling laptops and everyone can get a personal cloud.

With the digital world running at such a fast pace, who knows where we will all end up in a years time.

But there is one thing I know that will never change, my core beliefs.

So welcome to my world, a Creative Director who is stuck on fast play in a digital world.