Interview: raising the profile of customer-first design
Ahead of speaking at Retail Customer Engagement on 5 June, Steve Kato-Spyrou, UX manager at John Lewis & Partners, has highlighted how customer-centric design can often be overlooked in retail businesses despite it being a major contributor to a company’s success.
He says: “Retailers need to really understand where the customer-first and customer-centric designers are within their businesses and to elevate them because they will make the most money [for them]. If they are overlooked then it is a big mistake.”
During his presentation in London, Kato-Spyrou will run delegates through John Lewis’ moves over the last three years to adopt a customer-first design approach for three major changes it undertook to its website.
These comprised: the switch from using a third-party supplier for its mobile site to instead handling it in-house as a responsive site; the combining of its dotcom and mobile sites into a single responsive design; and the rebranding of the website to John Lewis & Partners.
“Customer-first design had taken a back seat in some areas. This could have been because of the bad use of MVP (minimal viable product) or the designers could have tried to combine UX and UI into the design and it had not quite worked,” he says.
With the new focus Kato-Spyrou says the company took on the three projects with the underlying objective of improving a number of factors: the technology, the customer experience, the business, and the proposition (features) on the site. It was closely monitored whether these elements experienced improvements or otherwise and it there was any deterioration in any of them then this was clearly addressed.
He adds: “Companies need to give design more time and love. It’s a balance of technology and customer experience. You need to get to the point with the design whereby it passes certain validation tests. Performance is still one of the metrics but there are many more nowadays.”
What is also needed is the embracing of an agile mindset in order to deal with the pace of change today. “We see design as a fundamental element in business. What customers want changes so much that you need to be agile and for this you need a strong research and insights department that can feed in the changes and the new requirements of customers. Otherwise you are oblivious to what the customer wants,” says Kato-Spyrou.
Above all else he says there is a real need to shine a spotlight on customer-first design and the people involved in this crucial part of retail businesses because this will help take it on from being seen as some hidden “dark arts” type activity.
Want to join us at the conference? Act soon to secure your place. Retail Bulletin readers qualify for a 50% reduction on ticket prices when using the discount code RETAILER50 when booking. Further information here: https://www.theretailbulletin.com/retail-events/customer-engagement/
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