Product Envisioning: Why ENVISIONING leads to meaningful customer experiences

ENVISION verb | en·vi·sion | to imagine as a future possibility; to visualize or picture something in your mind.

What is product envisioning? First, let's start by asking an important question: When you think of the ideal experience of a person using your product or service, what do you see? And how do you share this vision, create actionable next steps, or measure success?

Envisioning is defined as any activity that visually captures the key details of a potential product or service and creates a strategic plan to deliver an effective end-to-end user experience. To adequately put, the central role of envisioning is to visualize the entire customer journey to create transformative brand experiences. Nearly every successful company recognizes the purpose and significance of how envisioning creates value through transforming customer journeys. Through envisioning, not only do you understand customers, but you are aligning your internal teams on a common goal, simplifying complex information, and developing a clear path towards success – which helps your company ask the more important questions so that you may leverage better customer-experience efforts. Today, more businesses are realizing that it’s no longer enough to compete on products and services alone. How a company delivers is becoming as important as what it delivers. In the realm of design, our experience teaches us that the best customer experience efforts are driven by the customer’s perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes. Additionally, a strong focus on understanding the customer’s fundamental wants and needs allows us to envision an ideal customer experience that is brand specific.

So, then what is it that customers want? And how can we leverage their experience that will lead them to choose our product or service over others?

First, it is imperative to realize that almost every successful company now recognizes it is in the customer-experience business. Customer service advocates clearly understand that this is key to their success. Ultimately, the central role of visualizing a full customer journey, as opposed to focusing on touchpoints, bridges the gap between the customer experience and the value created by the product or service. Envisioning helps us to enrich our understanding of improvements we need to make to overcome challenges in the customer experience process.

Who are my customers as individuals? What motivates them? What do they want to achieve? And, what are the fundamental causes of satisfaction?

To answer these questions accurately, we employ the envisioning process to clearly communicate what the customer desires (wants) from the experience, the underlying objective or purpose (needs), preconceived notions about the experience (stereotypes), and the emotions that customers are likely to experience. Companies can bring the customer’s perspective into focus through these elements, thus aligning their efforts with an ideal customer experience. However, when most companies focus on customer experience they think about touchpoints – the individual transactions through which customers interact with the business.

Companies try to ensure that customers will be happy with the interaction when they connect with their products or services through touchpoints. Although this is logical, a stronger focus on individual touchpoints ultimately misses the significance of the more important end-to-end customer experience. Only by looking at the customer’s full experience through his or her own eyes—along the entire journey—can we really begin to understand how to create brand-led value. Customer journeys include everything that happens before, during, and after the experience of a product or service. More importantly, developing a clear line of sight through envisioning creates actionable next steps to deliver on the ideal customer experience. Distinctive customer experiences make it more likely that customers repeat a purchase, spend more, recommend to friends & family, and stay loyal to your brand. Therefore, end-to-end customer experiences are the unit measure when setting priorities for your customer experience investments – with journey performance strongly linked to economic outcomes. Many companies initiate customer-experience efforts with lofty ambitions but a poor foundation in linking their efforts to value. There is a better way – and it starts with strategic envisioning that focuses on how a company delivers its product or service before, during, and after the customer experience.