Still struggling to tell your customer experience from your user experience? Confused by the whole concept of design thinking? Turns out it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Complex every day choices simplified with the help of technology – that is what modern marketing is all about, says Kit Macgillivray, chief product officer at Brook.ai and Director of Customer Experience Strategy, Frost*collective.
Combining CX (customer experience) and UX (user experience) design principles, Brook.ai provides a platform that supports the needs of chronic disease patients. In other words, “ it’s an interactive fitbit on steroids”.
This kind of innovation is the very crux of CX, Macgillivray says. It’s about using today’s interactive technology to create human-centred design, but it’s a point many marketers are missing.
“A lot of people are just jumping on the bandwagon. A lot of people are just buying journey maps. They’re not buying an outcome, they’re buying an experience map.”
Tune in as Kit joins Mark and JV to discover why chief product officers have a better understanding of customer experience than the average CEO, how an incentivised culture will improve CX and why the best brands approach the customer journey as a beast in need of continual upkeep.
- Kit Macgillivray, Chief Product Officer at Brook.ai
- brook – Turning Diabetes into Liveabetes
- More And More C-Level Execs Waking Up To The Benefit Of User Research And Testing
The CMO Show production team
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Hosts: Mark Jones and Jeanne-Vida Douglas
Guest: Kit Macgillivray (KM)
JVD: We’re here with Kit Macgillivray.
MJ: Thanks for joining us, Kit.
KM: No problem.
KM: Good work to both of you on the surname actually. That wasn’t too bad for a first shot.
MJ: Is that Scottish?
MJ: Excellent. Were you born there?
KM: No, I’m Canadian originally.
JVD: So let’s unpack a little bit this idea about customer experience because I’ve got a really strong interest in design thinking. The fascinating thing about design thinking is it’s actually going back to first principles and starting with the people who are going to use your products and services. It’s all really clear and logical when someone explains it to you, but what challenges me about it is that I think there’s a lot of me-tooism going on. There are a lot of people who are jumping on the bandwagon. So what is customer experience? What are some of the sort of challenges around this way of designing software, of designing marketing, of designing what we do?
KM: It’s a bit of a fluffy word, but actually the goal is within it. So it really is predicated on the idea that there is a customer out there which again sounds very obvious but… it’s actually easy to forget that there’s a customer out there or that they’re anything other than essentially a number on the marketing sheet or the – or the pipeline. So there’s a push to say, “Okay. We need to understand a customer and who our customers are.” That’s pretty easy. People have always sort of thought about that from a certain perspective, but then you start to say, okay what is the customer’s experience of using our product specifically or our services,” and then that sort of comes together into the idea of well, actually, their experiences are broader than just their interactions with our business, right?
JVD: Now is this because it never really existed or it’s just because we know more about what people do now?
KM: It’s both, right? People have access to more and more information, but of course, it always existed. It wasn’t able to be measured, right? People were talking about it at the dinner table. They were reading magazines or whatever, but it wasn’t measurable so therefore it was ignorable by large business and then finally, it’s kind of penetrated to say, “Okay. We can’t ignore it anymore.”
MJ: So customer experience then, that seems like a pretty good overview versus user experience.
KM: User experience generally refers to the design of an interface of some sort. Now that could be like a service design or it could be an app design or it could be a product design or whatever. Generally usually around digital products. That is different in the sense that it tends to be a product function in the business which is designing how you’re interacting with the product.
JVD: This is where marketing has jumped its traditional bounds and it’s now sort of… Your CMO needs to know what’s being said in the call centre, what kind of advertising is going out, what’s happening on the billboards, what’s happening with the community liaison officer, what are the sales staff being briefed, who’s on the front desk, do they know? It’s actually a – a huge, like brand isn’t, is no longer something that you dictate. It’s something that is created at every point of that interface yeah.
KM: Yeah and there’s actually two pieces in that which is… You said the CMO, but there’s debate about who owns this.
JVD: Oh, yes.
KM: And is the CMO as an office rather than an individual have the skill sets? Do they have the capabilities to be able to think across all of these different touch points? So that’s one question that needs to be resolved. Then the second thing is yes, absolutely because if it is a marketing function and they’re responsible for all the interfaces between the business and the market, meaning the customers, yeah, they need to understand all of these elements. They need to ensure that they’re coherent and cohesive from a strategic perspective.
JVD: If not the CMO, then with whom does it sit?
KM: It’s a great question. I mean there’s an argument to say that it sits with the CEO and that it isn’t that far different than a strategy, but I’m quite fascinated by the rise of the CPO as a chief product officer. Some people are trying to do chief experience officers, et cetera. It really is unknown.
MJ: I think the confusion is this customer experience versus user experience versus design thinking, versus all of these things are really interesting because we’ve run so far down this path it seems in the last couple of years in terms of it has to be our priority, we should be doing this, we should be thinking about this, but it strikes me that we just still don’t get it, at sort of basics. Right?
MJ: Like what is it supposed to achieve, why is it important, what are the benefits?
JVD: So people are jumping on-board, but they don’t know why and…
JVD: …they don’t have any strategy behind why they’re there in the first place.
MJ: Why do you think that is?
KM: There’s three components to it, right. One is the artefact and a lot of people are people just jumping on the bandwagon. A lot of people are just buying journey maps, right. They’re not buying an outcome. They’re not doing that, but they’re buying an experience map.
MJ: Love a good customer journey.
KM: They’re buying a set of personas locked in time and an experience map also locked in time. Then there’s really the killer in all this which is culture. Right, like do you culturally, are you putting the customer centricity at the middle of the culture of the business?
And to be honest, culture is driven a lot by incentives. So is the business actually incentivised to deliver on that on that at an individual level? You can’t say, “Everyone has to be customer centric,” and then at the end of the month when the numbers get tight, you smash them on other stuff. Right, it has to be aligned. If incentives aren’t aligned in a business, it’s not going to change and just saying it or buying journey maps isn’t sufficient.
MJ: And by the way just while we’re unpacking this too, there is another dilemma here which is that it’s – if you think about a startup organisation and you might dream about… Let’s say in your case it’s an app, right. You might dream about where this thing is going to go. Inevitably things like revenue and – and product design, you know, and these sort of business fundamentals come first and you don’t have the luxury of being able to invest a lot of time in sort of the user experience from a – from a totality, the sort of the broad strategy. It tends to be thought of as kind of like, “Well, now we’re big. Let’s bolt this thing in.” It’s sort of an after the fact and I wonder about, you know, the implications of that.
KM: I think it comes in waves. So at the beginning and I’m currently in the middle of it and I’ve had a number of startups before. All you think about is the customer and how they’re experiencing every little component of your product or service. Everything. You’re obsessed with it. But you’re able to also because you can hold them all in your hand at the same time. Right? You have a relatively limited set of interfaces. Your surface area is smaller. You can understand who your customers are. You are usually hyper focused on providing a set of ROI or a set of value to them that is pretty small, right. Because if you are not really laser focused on a set of really clear value to an end user, you’ll die. You’ll never make it, right.
It gets difficult when it expands and that surface area starts to break up and you said tyranny of large companies and there is a magic sort of period where things break, right. I remember one of the [unclear 00:10:06] with it. It was about the shift from about 75 to 100 people. Up to 75 everybody knew who to call. Everybody had this coherence around… Now, it was messy, but everyone had a coherence around the experience of what we wanted to offer and the principles we wanted to offer along all the interfaces with customers. After 100, it broke.
MJ: In what sense?
KM: Too many people. Too many people and not having the structures in place to be able to actually run from protocols rather than principles right, meaning all right, we can’t all talk. We can’t all be aligned all the time. So how does everybody have the tools to do their bit in some sort of a coherent sort of approach? A coherent experience strategy. That’s still being worked out. Not many people have this right.
JVD: It strikes me too that a lot of this is about large companies, trying to operate like small companies insofar as you have a small business, you know all your stuff, you know all your customers, you’re personally invested in their success to a large degree. As you get bigger or if you already are a large company, how do you invest that customer relationship with that same kind of knowledge, that same kind of insight and almost…
MJ: And intimacy.
JVD: Yeah, intimacy, intuition about what they – who they are and what they make.
KM: There’s the whole transference which I’m sure you’ve heard of which is I deal with small companies and all the advantages of their focus on me and I expect every other service that I interact with in my life to be the same and of that calibre. So it’s very hard for large companies when reality is they have to compete with smaller, more focused companies and they’re able to give me pretty much equal service now.
MJ: I’ve got a theory that large companies are just small companies with more people.
KM: They’d operate better if they were, right, yeah.
JVD: I think if we look at the cultural side of things, the companies that have really struggled with it and tried to culturally change are the ones where you see sort of senior executives come down from their towers and spend a day in the call centre and behave like a normal customer would and actually get to know the customers and see the daily grind of the people that work at that coalface because until they experience that, they’re just too far removed. It takes 40 years to become a CEO and probably several degrees and all sorts of different kind of experience. By then, it’s been 25 since you’ve touched a customer.
KM: You cannot operate like that realistically. It’s not that hard. I’ve always been fascinated by people’s ability to go home and particularly… Let’s say it’s the example of digital. They’ll come in and they’ll talk about TV ads and all the rest and…
JVD: The one that I love is the people who are sort of on their mobile phones and their smartphones on the train or while they’re commuting and then they get to the office, put the phone down and start to talk about other channels.
KM: Exactly. Precisely. Precisely.
MJ: On the flipside, we did a show with Mark Ritson and he was saying that too often marketers think of themselves as being the customer. So, you know, the danger is that we start thinking that well, we actually really do know the customer because I’ve watched my teenage daughter at home.
KM: Yeah, that’s worse than my wife doesn’t like purple.
MJ: You know, so we have to have the right perspective.
[0:15:37] KM: I think you’ve said it best which is to reduce the layers the of separation, right? Look, it’s always this battle between using analytics and using data and using insights and all that to be really, really helpful for decision makers, but you can also hide behind mountains of that. Those people start to become numbers or graphs and large consulting company 400 page decks describing who people are. There’s no human inside of that. We talk about designing experiences, but I actually I have a problem with that as a term because you can’t actually design an experience. You can design an environment that someone can have an experience within, but they’re bringing their context right. Whether they had a good trip to work or a bad trip to work, it’s going to affect how they interact with you and how they feel about it.
MJ: Now you’ve been working on this diabetes monitoring app.
MJ: How does all of this apply to that sector? Health is obviously laden with regulations and all sorts of stuff.
KM: Health is a tough problem quite frankly. It’s a big one and it’s a tough one. We’re building a machine learning service for type 2 diabetics to help manage themselves better. Now in terms of the need for it, it’s phenomenal. We’re actually going to drive off a cliff all of our health systems. We’re spending over 10% of the GDP on chronic disease at the minute and we can’t continue to afford it. These ultimately are problems of ongoing behavioural day-to-day management. It aligns with the customer experience stuff in the sense that it isn’t a siloed thing that you go and you do, but that is how it’s actually been managed so far which is you go to the doctor.
Diabetes is thought of as a medical problem that you address when you’re at the doctor, but actually you only go every three months. It’s actually 10 to 15 little micro interactions per day where you try and decide for diabetes, should you have the banana bread with the flat white? You go try and figure out how well you slept and you think, “Okay. What would I have for breakfast and then how much did I walk yesterday? How warm is it,” all of these things go into that.
MJ: It’s self-care, it’s a self-care model.
KM: 100%. The model of customer experience actually really fits to try and understand okay, a person has a set of needs, a set of context, how are they going to make a lot of little decisions? And how do you we give them information to be able to make those decisions better?
MJ: It strikes me that what you’re heading towards is a far more interactive environment where the experience is not shaped by I feel like a process that you walk through in that, but an ongoing two way dynamic relationship in technology. I think that’s kind of broadly speaking where a lot of people are heading. That to me is quite fascinating.
KM: Yeah. I guess we talked about this in the beginning about this fallacy of the linear funnel around any interaction between the customer and a service or a product. The cadence of diabetes specifically is actually a lot of short sharp interactions right, and contextual interactions like I want to know this or I have this piece of information or I need this, I need that.
JVD: It’s a bit like a sort of interactive Fitbit on steroids. It tells you what to do as well as measuring what you’re doing.
KM: Yeah. I mean look, underneath all of this stuff is patterns largely. It’s data and it’s understanding the patterns of data at a personal level and then understanding the context of those patterns and of those little data points.
Again they’re just a bunch of methodologies and techniques that we use in the world of data science, trying to understand this stuff.
JVD: What we’ve traditionally been really good at in Australia in old style marketing is preventative campaigns. So either it’s smoking or AIDS or skin cancer, we’re good at spreading the message and modifying people’s behaviour en masse, seat belts. When are we going to start to see preventative apps like the one that you’re working on now and is there actually a taste for them, a market for them?
KM: We’re effective at a lot in Australia and a lot of sort of specific single issue things, but the reality is we haven’t solved obesity. We are not fixing diets. Just giving people the numbers isn’t good enough.
Right, you can’t just tell people, “Okay, here’s exactly what to do. Now just do it.” Alternatively, you can’t just make people feel good about themselves and expect that to work either. You can’t just say, encourage them and motivate them. You have to have some sort of combination of giving people the tools and the insights to be able to make a change, but also the behavioural nudges to be able to benefit from that in the fuzzier stuff beyond just okay, if I keep doing this, I’ll get my leg amputated five years later, in 15 years.
MJ: You’ve got to turn inspiration into long-term behavioural change.
KM: Exactly. So how you align those things, I mean that’s the goal. A lot of people are trying to figure it out, but we’re not there yet. We’re just beginning.
JVD: There’s nothing small about sort of population scale chronic disease prevention. If we’re going to do it properly that’s the place we need to do it.
MJ: Could we get practical for a moment?
KM: Go on, yeah.
MJ: Take us through how to design a customer experience strategy in the ideal world. Let’s try and put away, you know, just kind of, if you can boil it down to a few simple steps because I think if we want to take it out of the theory into the, “Well, look, this is how you should do it.”
KM: There’s two components to it which I think that get mixed together and that’s sort of like in designing a problem space and the solution space meaning okay, at the start, do you understand what’s going on for real? There’s a whole set of methods, artefacts, et cetera, which will go to essentially an audit of saying, “Okay, what is the current scenario?” This is for a set of existing experiences rather than necessarily designing new ones from scratch.
KM: Personas, I mean, they’re used a lot. There’s a big problem with them which is that they’re a snapshot in time. So they’re perceived to be this, okay these are our live, real living customers who live day-to-day, but then they’re written on paper and stuck on a wall and they never change. Right? There’s an inherent issue there, but I guess they’re better than nothing.
MJ: You mean your persons should get old as well?
KM: Your persona should evolve. Anytime that you take a snapshot of a scenario and expect it to not change, then again that’s just sort of codifying the problem.
JVD: Well, what I think is really interesting too with the development of personas is the need to step away from basic demographic information and look at sociographic information. Not who is this person in terms of age, gender, income, but who are they in terms of behaviours.
KM: Like a band’s fans are more similar in Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Cape Town and London than they are necessarily me with my neighbour. Right, so demographics even geography to a large degree, it has an influence, but if you’re basing it on that, then you’re just using a bunch of assumptions quite frankly.
MJ: So audit the experience was the first one.
KM: So that’s the first block is you order the experience and then you… That really goes to both who is doing it and then what is their interaction with the experience, but then also the contexts. So that starts to understand okay, what do people want out of what you’re providing? What are their different goals? What are their different contexts? And then you can start to say, okay. Are we actually starting to deliver on those or not?
MJ: So in other words, measure the results?
KM: A big part of it is actually ranking and prioritising saying, okay what’s important about… Where are we failing the most and where are we? How is that aligned with the business strategy, because you do have to have proper modelling around this. You can’t be everything to everybody. If you’re failing two different groups, which one of them is strategically more important for you?
It acts as a performance or a KPI almost or like a reality check on the rest of that design process. You can keep coming back and saying, okay. Have we actually solved the problem that we identified here as being important or not?
MJ: So then from the solutions where does it end or doesn’t it?
KM: Well, it doesn’t. That’s the interesting thing right, because this very quickly starts to… For most businesses start to interact with service as well. It’s important to realise the difference between okay, here’s the interfaces we’re designing which are products or for example you said user experience design right, so a website or a physical – like a store or a bank office or whatever and then there’s a service component that lays on top of it and it evolves. These things are not locked in time. They just have to continually evolve and different people will have different contexts and different attitudes. As you go forward, you have to change.
MJ: That’s really, really insightful and I for one learnt a lot of things just then.
JVD: It’s like a mini study session each of these shows, isn’t it?
MJ: We’d like to ask you our rapid fire round of 21 questions. You up for it?
KM: Sure. Let’s go.
JVD: What are you grateful for?
KM: The opportunities I’ve had to do interesting things.
MJ: Do you like rain?
JVD: In the movie of your life, who would play you?
KM: I don’t… Ricky Gervais.
MJ: What’s your greatest career fail?
KM: There’s been many of them. If you play around the startup game, you fail on a lot of them. I was supposed to be a plant ecologist and I can’t recognise a single, identify a single plant.
MJ: That’s a good fail. Beach or mountain?
JVD: Best ever career advice?
KM: That you got to get up for work almost every day for 50 years and you better make sure when you get out of bed that you’re enjoying it.
JVD: Summer or winter?
MJ: Who is your hero?
KM: I have no idea.
JVD: If you weren’t a marketer, you’d be a…?
KM: Well, I always wanted to be an architect.
MJ: Chocolate or strawberry?
JVD: What did you have for breakfast?
MJ: What would you rather have had?
KM: Fried dumplings. Yes.
JVD: Last conversation you had with your parents?
KM: The US elections of course.
MJ: I’m so sorry to hear that. Scrunch or fold?
JVD: If you could change one thing about the marketing industry, what would it be?
KM: Don’t be so scared of maths.
MJ: Can you ride a bike?
JVD: What’s your greatest frustration?
KM: Siloed thinking.
MJ: Of the five senses, touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, which would you sacrifice to save the rest?
JVD: Dogs or cats?
MJ: Favourite book?
KM: There’s too many. Too many.
JVD: If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?
JVD: Christopher. Now you’ve got to tell us why Kit?
KM: Christopher’s my real name actually. Kit then.
JVD: You’ve already changed it to Kit? Please tell me that’s a Knight Rider.
KM: There’s only one T.
MJ: Yeah. That’s right. The Knight Rider has two T’s. That’s right. Yes. That’s really great.
KM: I’ve heard that joke before. Yes.
MJ: Yeah, 80s pop…
JVD: I’m an 80s child. I thought it was fabulous.
MJ: Well, Christopher/Kit Macgillivray, thank you so much for joining us on The CMO Show.
JVD: Thanks for coming on.
KM: Thank you.