Monday, December 10, 2012

Making sense of CX, UX, and HCD

Every industry has its acronyms, and stakeholder experience is no different. I focus on CX (Customer, or Stakeholder Experience), but how does this relate to UX (User Experience), and the one probably best known in frontier markets, HCD (Human Centered Design)?
Here’s how:  

HCD stems from some 1970s concepts known as “the Scandinavian tradition.” As much as I would like to suggest this refers to the Swedish Chef, it actually focuses on making products through collaboration with end users of those products. It can also be used for systems, but is most commonly applied through computer-based user experience design. There is even an ISO standard for it.

IDEO’s HCD toolkit does the best job I’ve seen of explaining its frontier market applications. Aside from a gorgeous layout, it walks readers through three processes—Hear, Create, and Deliver—to design in partnership with stakeholders. Specifically:
  • Face-to-face group and individual interviews
  • In-context immersion
  • Self-documentation (users are given cameras to document their lives)
  • Participatory co-design
  • Opportunity area identifications
  • Framework creation
  • New solutions brainstorming
So HCD focuses on qualitative input, allowing designers comprehensive insight into users’ social, political, economic, and cultural concerns that might get overlooked in a quantitative study. 

UX modifies HCD’s approach to develop individual IT applications, making sure interfaces are designed for their users. If that individual IT application accounts for the “use product” stage in a customer lifecycle, CX includes that stage in a complete design of the customer lifecycle, bringing a focus on the customer to every touch point a company has with its customers—from learning about the organization to ending the relationship. I’d encourage folks to read Kerry Bodine’s great write up on the relationship between the two in the UX mag.

Confused yet? Here it is: HCD is a methodology that can be applied to many design endeavors, including CX and UX. UX is about engaging stakeholders or users in one interface—usually a technological interface. It can use HCD design principles, but often needs additional quantitative results. CX can also use HCD, but isn’t limited to one interface; CX focuses on all the channels an organization uses to interact with its stakeholders.   

Let’s take this into the real world. Say your stakeholders are truckers responsible for transporting perishable goods across West African borders (I love this study on this topic). This is a tough job: They pay bribes at many stops to try to avoid delays that would mean goods rot in the trailer--and all of this on bad roads damaged by overloaded trucks.

What to do? The strict HCD approach would be to talk to the stakeholders and work with them to identify a solution. A UX practitioner might apply HCD and other processes to design a SMS app so stakeholders can time and report delays from market to port. CX might use HCD to engage the stakeholder, and could include the UX-designed SMS app, but would also focus on the entire process, including how the trucker gets licensed, how he loads a truck properly, how checkpoint guards should engage the trucker, and how the trucker reports issues he finds along the way.

On the non-frontier, might use HCD to identify what was important to customers seeking power tools, UX to design the “power tools” section of their website, and CX to design the entire process, from learning about as a source for the power tool to selling the power tool on

Here is another way of thinking about it:

So these are distinct yet overlapping approaches. HCD tools are often used by CX practitioners to get closer to their customers, and UX is a “deep dive” into one aspect of the overall customer experience. Yet all three make for a better relationship between you and your stakeholder.