Insight | Phenomenon
Harvard Business Review: User Experience Determines Business Future
Building Better Brands in the Age of eXperience
The “user experience” has become the cornerstone for many organization to gain a competitive edge in the world today. In the era of experience economy, major strategic consulting agencies in the world that are good at advanced and agile thinking have begun the acquisition of design companies, such as the acquisition of Lunar, a famous American industrial design company, by McKinsey & Company, the acquisition of Doblin by Deloitte, and the acquisition of Fjord by Accenture.
In fact, the concept of user experience has appeared in the mid-1990s. Then, Mr. Donald Norman, a professor of psychology at the University of California, proposed this concept and published the classic work regarding user experience, the The Design of Everyday Things. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Jiangnan University set the Design Interactions major firstly in China. Professor Xiangyang Xin, founder of the major, expressed his understanding on user experience, “It is required for designers of products and services to pay attention to real needs of users in a certain scene and understand users from multiple latitudes such as economics, behavior, psychology, and social science.”
For a long time, people’s understanding of experience has remained at the UI level (user interface), with design at the lower end of product development; while X thinking has focused on the holistic experience of users. The core and nature of user experience design is to study the way of thinking and behavior of target users in specific scenarios. It provides complete products or services through design, affects subjective experiences of the users, and allows user to meet their needs with least time and effort. Jason Huang, founder of TANG, proposed X Thinking, holding a view that companies should focus on users, find a balance among business, design and technology, and create higher value for users through experience-driven solutions.
Enhance the Experience and Create Value for users
Zhima Credit is an independent third-party credit bureau of Ant Financial Services Group. The Zhima Credit Score was officially launched on January 28, 2015. Since the very beginning, Mr. Hu Tao, general manager of Zhima Credit expressed his expectation on products, “Zhima credit make the relationship between humans, between humans and institutions easier due to credit. We are committed to the insight of credit data, the connection of credit scenes and the spread of the credit culture, thus helping users to obtain the value of credit in a better way.”
Based on this demand, Zhima Credit began to implement the user experience innovation project, and carried out in-depth cooperation with TANG at the beginning of 2015. At the beginning of the project, a project team was established including various roles such as decision makers, industry experts, experience designers, etc. The first step is to identify the present and future potential customers for Zhima Credit and tap into opportunity points for Zhima Credit in various scenarios. The project team finally divided the users of Zhima Credit into six categories, including the fresh credit forces, the credit social network force, and the credit pioneers.
According to the six major categories and the user’s demand for credit, the project team expounded on application scenarios of personal credit and tapped into product value in an in-depth manner by focusing on three categories of value for Internet credit, namely, reaching deals, gaining opportunities, and forming relationships. After a short period of one and a half years, the Zhima credit still in the public testing period has covered various scenarios including credit finance, credit bicycle rental, credit hotels, credit rental and credit marriages, creating value for both users and merchants. For example, in the cooperation with Youon Public Bicycles, users can scan the code to rent the bike exempt from deposit, eliminating the trouble of applying for a card offline. With nearly 400,000 people participating in green commuting through credit bicycle rental every day, the project has also eased the pressure of public transport and environment in the city. Currently, only 43 of the 30 million rentals failed to return the bikes.
Create Holistic Service Exerience
The INNOSPACE+ project invested by Hong Kong Shui On Land Limited is a vivid example of creating holistic service experience. INNOSPACE+ is the first all-element and one-stop entrepreneurial eco-community in China. The co-creation space in the early stage has seen a successful result; however, in the face of a brand new INNOSPACE+ project with more complicated functions and comprehensive upgrades, how to distinguish it from other creative spaces emerging one after another at home has always bothered the management of Shui On Real Estate.
In 2015, TANG reached a strategic cooperation with Shui On, and a project team was established together. The design group of the project team sent researchers to pay quick visits to six well-known entrepreneurial incubators across the country, classified the incubators from a professional and basic perspective, and outlined the complete ecological chain of entrepreneurial services in China.
Based on this ecological chain, the project team, with service design as the focus, created the “customer journey map” of typical entrepreneurial scenarios, and divided the service process into four stages, namely the contact period, low-order value docking period, high-order resource docking period and relationship maintenance period. Then, the corresponding scenes of the four stages were subdivided to create the service design process of the core entrepreneurial scene.
In terms of expanding the service channels of INNOSPACE+, the project team also proposed a business model innovation concept featuring platform-based and e-commerce, and designed corresponding products and APP. In addition, the project team found in the previous research that venture capital funds began to prefer entrepreneurs who were still in their infancy stage of the business. Then the project team proposed the concept of Pre* entrepreneurs, and then designed a series of special services for this resource-strapped group. All of these designs have enhanced depth and breadth services to the INNOSPACE+, creating a seamless and holistic experience for customers.
Co-creation Facilitates Product Innovation
A good user experience can strengthen the relationship between the company and its customers, while the closer co-create is the key factor for the company to stand out in the Internet competition era. Because it is the enterprise itself who knows the products, markets, resources, corporate culture, organizational structure, etc. For user experience innovation, we should take the commercial feasibility into consideration in addition to user’s perspective, and keep consistent with the company’s own positioning. If the company is deeply involved in the process of co-create, the user experience and business model can be well combined and effectively balanced to achieve a win-win results for both the company and the user.
China Merchants Bank and TANG have cooperated in depth in two consecutive versions of Mobile Banking 3.0 and 4.0, fully demonstrating the value of co-creation. Traditional financial services have experienced the hits and subversion coming from Internet finance and mobile Internet since 2013. As a bank attaching great importance to user experience, China Merchants Bank has already taken the lead in terms of mobile banking in the domestic banking industry; however, its management level knew well that more efforts are required to maintain this position and continue to improve. For the Mobile Banking 3.0 project, the project team, introduced the “super function” of mobile banking involving the user-centered positioning on the basis of version 2.5.
The so-called “super function” refers to the unique functional innovations of China Merchants Mobile Banking compared with other mobile banking, which mainly includes account overview and financial calendar. Although the project seems to be a simple design in terms of concept and presentation, complex integration behind is required. By working closely with various divisions such as products and businesses of China Merchants Bank, the design team completed this innovation in a relatively short period of time. The project team jointly launched the transition from 3.0 to 4.0 in 2015. After iteration from 3.0 to 4.0, the Mobile Bank of China Merchants Bank has developed into a financial service platform from a tool application, paying more attention to operations and offering more products for different users.
Innovation driven by user experience can make the company more competitive in the transformation of digitalization and e-commerce. The omni-bearing and holistic user experience design can help enterprises understand the real needs of core target users, find the ignition point of the user, and enable a smooth and pleasant interaction among people, technology and complex systems, thus further facilitating business innovation practice.
Xiaohong Wang | Author Yuan Li | Editor
Digested from the Harvard Business Review the October issue, 2016
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