Customer Experience & Design

How to bring creativity back into the customer experience: 3 things to consider

Written by Pim van Helten on 24, Juth 2020

Over the past 5 years, customer experience (CX) has been the go-to strategy for marketers as a brand differentiator. As a result, many have invested in technology at an unprecedented rate. Fear of failing to keep up and following the outdated marketing dinosaurs into extinction had tech spend skyrocketing - with the global MarTech industry now estimated to be worth a whopping $121.5 billion

But can you differentiate your CX relying on tech alone? 

That is a no from us. Even Forrester agrees, “CX has become homogenized and table-stakes technology have created a sea of digital sameness.” Even though we have tried to improve CX by investing in technology, unwittingly CX has become stagnant instead. We have lost our creative focus. 

As a result, customers are having difficulties distinguishing one brand experience from another. Nowadays, everyone is “customer-obsessed”, “green” or “innovative”. When you go online and look at websites or apps of travel, retailers, banks or food delivery, it’s not difficult to see the striking similarities. Functionality is prioritized above everything else. 

As Forrester describes, “every brand offers the same digital experience because they all address the same customer needs, use the same technology platforms, and design for the same mobile use case.”  

How are customers supposed to choose between hundreds of brands that are more or less the same? Kinda like Doug, the dog from the Pixar movie Up, who gets distracted every time he sees a squirrel. The same goes for customers, they are tuning out and losing their attention. 

So, how can you differentiate your brand and grow your customer base? The answer is a CX strategy powered by creativity.  

Here are three things to consider for bringing creativity back into the CX:

1. Creativity doesn’t follow a set-out process. That’s why it’s called creativity

Without a defined path to take, many brands struggle with applying creativity on a brand level. Creativity is hard to grasp, let alone manage. Creativity has to have elements of surprise, needs to challenge and be daring, while inspiring at the same time. Marketers look at peers and best practices and build generic solutions on that. Without keeping the core of your brand in mind, digital sameness lures on the horizon. 

Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, describes creativity as: “Unexpected connections between unrelated concepts and ideas.” 

We would add to that:

“Unexpected connections between unrelated concepts and ideas, at the right time for the right audience.” 

2. Creativity is dependent on craftsmanship. Execution is the only thing customers will see from a strategy

Creativity is all about ideas and ideas are dependent on execution. In his book Creativity Inc., Catmull describes “If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better. If you get the team right, chances are that they’ll get the ideas right.”

It’s cliche, but true, an organization is only as good as its people. Once a tone of voice for your revolutionary AI-bot has been decided, it is up to great copy and UX writers to execute.

It’s the same on a tech and coding level: instead of relying on set templates, predefined design guidelines and copying others, coding creative experiences starts with craftsmanship, a thorough understanding of the brand and pinpointing opportunities to make the difference. Custom code, tailored design and hand-drawn animations will bring out the DNA of your brand, set it apart and leave a lasting, positive impression.

3. Creative brand experiences stand and fall with consistency

Creativity should be applied to all touchpoints in your CX. Each touchpoint represents an opportunity to establish an emotional connection with your customers and all touchpoints should be equally important. Consistency is key here. 

Refrain from resorting to generic templates. Instead, a design system might help you manage consistency while having the freedom of bespoke solutions for each and every touchpoint. View this design system as the evidence of keeping your brand promise and a reference for all of your brand’s activities.  

It’s no longer possible to differentiate your CX and create a memorable experience with tech alone. It’s time to set yourself apart and make creativity the defining differentiator in your CX strategy and apply it to all your touchpoints. Let’s no longer make creativity the forgotten C in CX. Let’s put it back where it belongs, at the heart of your experience. 

Curious about why creativity is the key to growth? 
Download our full CX guide here.

Pim van Helten

Pim van Helten


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