Navigating Uncertainty: How Human-Centered Design Drives CX

5 minute read, posted on 04/05/2024, by VXI Marketing

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I recently had the privilege of speaking at the Customer Response Summit, hosted by Execs in the Know (EITK), in Tucson, Arizona. As the attendees and I gathered, it became evident that many were grappling not just with the challenges of a rapidly evolving technological landscape, but with a broader issue: uncertainty fatigue. This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, in an era where unpredictability reigns supreme – particularly for customer experience (CX) leaders – the relentless pursuit of change can be exhausting and disorienting. Even worse, this uncertainty can often result in business decisions stagnating and stalling.  

The remedy, however, isn’t grasping for the “right” technology – it’s a holistic approach that places humans at the center. By prioritizing human-centered design within the service delivery model, partnering with CX experts that emphasize the customer, and ensuring that every piece of technology empowers the people using it, business decisions can become remarkably less uncertain (and less exhausting).  

For this blog, I wanted to share a few key takeaways from the Shop Talk, including some pretty telling insights from those who came to participate.  

The State of Transformation 

When asking the participants to consider how mature their business’ service delivery models are today (as defined by a set of characteristics provided), nearly two thirds said they resided in the “Emerging Explorer” category, which sits in the upper-lower half of our maturity model framework. While the characteristics that make up that category are excellent starts, it’s clear that most CX leaders have a long way to go to gain confidence and reduce uncertainty fatigue. 

Graph shows business service model maturity: 62% Emerging Explorers, 26% Proficient Practitioners, 6% Fire Fighters and Experience Orchestrators each, arrayed on a proactive-reactive and cost-value axis

Uncertainty fatigue manifests itself in various ways, from chronic tech tiredness to a sense of angst leading to impaired decision-making. It’s akin to running on low-battery mode for days on end, with CAPTCHA puzzles serving as a metaphorical headache-inducing roadblock. And as we peel back the layers, it becomes evident that the relentless influx of technology is both a boon and a burden, overwhelming CX leaders and casting doubt on their ability to navigate their service delivery transformation effectively.  

At the Junction of Acceleration & Uncertainty 

The roadblocks of transformation often reside where acceleration and uncertainty meet. Identifying the right technologies, understanding which capabilities and channels to invest in, and operationalizing new initiatives are just a few of the challenges that businesses face. Moreover, measuring ROI, balancing new delivery capabilities, and aligning organizational objectives further compound this complexity and can be rife with unintended consequences. It’s no wonder that many CX leaders find themselves grappling with self-doubt. 

Many of the underlying issues behind this uncertainty can be attributed to having too heavy a focus on direct cost optimization, not having a way to effectively measure ROI, or having the experienced skillsets in-house to assess your CX needs. But while the feasibility of the tools and the viability of their uses is indeed important, those aren’t the only considerations that should be evaluated to begin – it must also include the human experience. 

A Path Forward: Human-Centered Design 

When CX leaders look for efficiency gains, they prioritize optimizing the costs of their organization. Similarly, most technologies are purchased in order to increase efficiency. But a human-centered design approach serves as the bridge between the two, bringing together the needs of their people, the possibilities of technologies, and the requirements for success.  

This, of course, is easier said than done. In fact, nearly half of the attendees from our Shop Talk (48%) believe their organizations have a limited understanding of human-centered design. And our impromptu event poll isn’t alone in this data. According to a recent poll by Forrester, 44% of businesses don’t even measure the experience behind a customer journey (instead analyzing CX at the touchpoint level). This overreliance on data and under-reliance on people is a huge problem for leaders looking to create long-lasting change. 

Donut chart showing understanding of human-centered design: 43% adequate, 48% limited, 3% fully, 3% no knowledge, 3% unsure.

When businesses implement a human-centered design (think of it as an approach that prioritizes your customers’ and employees’ needs, behaviors, and preferences), they can accelerate their CX transformation journey while encouraging collaboration and continuous feedback. 

Six-step process for Human-Centered Design, including empathy mapping, customer understanding, organizational insights, solution ideation, evaluation, and MVP design.

A Blueprint for Success 

Human-centered design is undeniably effective in solving problems and implementing new solutions – if you need convincing, 74% of our attendees agreed. It provides a holistic view of your employees and customers, fosters collaboration and encourages feedback, and humanizes the data. This mindset-shift could not come at a better time, when so many CX leaders are feeling fatigue around their transformation efforts.  

Donut chart on human-centered design effectiveness: 29% very, 32% moderate, 10% extremely effective, 3% slight, 26% no opinion.

VXI’s Customer Acceleration (CXA) team is a group of design thinkers, CX operators, and hands-on practice leaders. We exist to create and deliver differentiated experiences for both customers and agents while remaining focused on value creation for our clients.  

To learn more about how CXA can combat uncertainty fatigue using human-centered design principles, get in touch with us here 

Graphic featuring a professional bio of Tadd McAnally, VP of Customer Experience Advisory at VXI Global Solutions. It details his joining VXI in 2023, leading the VXI CX Advisory practice, previous roles in CX Service Transformation, and expertise in digital transformation, omnichannel customer experience, and CX transformation. A portrait of Tadd McAnally is included on the left side.

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