User experience, customer experience and employee experience. All different, but kinda similar, too.
You see, you can’t have happy customers without happy employees. And you can’t have a great user experience with a digital product if the broader customer experience sucks.
In this article, I want to outline how I define each one based on my in-house and contracting experience as a writer, and how they work together to benefit businesses like yours. And I’ll show you how to get started on it yourself right now.
You’ll see how it’s equally important to perfect the details of each singular interaction as well as ensuring the whole shebang is top notch.
But no matter how they differ, there’s one thing that is applicable to all three: collaboration.
User experience (UX) writing
UX or product copy is everything to do with a digital product, like an app. Product / user interface / microcopy (no wonder we can get confused… so many names!) is short, sharp, helpful, useful, clear and in the brand voice. Yep, that’s a lot to consider when there’s limited space!
It’s a smaller component of the larger CX comms landscape, but obviously important nonetheless.
How I work on UX:
Working on a product, I usually collaborate with the designer to map out the content together and sometimes we do the user research together, too. The reason for this is obvious: two brains are WAY better than one. Even if the designer is in-house and I’m contracting, we have the added benefit of fresh eyes (me) with in-depth business knowledge (them).
I’ve done it the other way (as in, filled in copy after the design is done) and it just doesn’t work as well. It’s like trying to fit the toothpaste back in the tube after you’ve squeezed it out.
Here are some of the things I would classify as UX:
- User research
- In-app microcopy
- UI copy (websites or apps, can include welcome screens etc)
- Onboarding / welcome emails and setup (for apps)
Customer experience (CX) comms
CX comms covers a wider range than just the digital product – because it also includes all of the support factors surrounding it.
Anyway. If you picture the small circle being UX, (ie. product / UI copy) and everything triggered as part of that user experience, CX is the slightly bigger, broader circle encompassing it.
My view is that all customer comms should be done under the umbrella of CX. Yes, even marketing should be either working with someone devoted to CX – or be the same person. For example, when I was in-house, the CX comms responsibility fell under me, so I covered all the copy relating to marketing, product and internal comms. And I sat half-way between marketing and product (both literally and figuratively).
And this totally makes sense. There needs to be a unified brand voice across all of these functions. Each customer touch point should be considered so that there’s consistency in tone, personality and messaging. It is so jarring when I see beautiful, fun copy on a website but then I use a chatbot or talk to customer support and it’s… for lack of a better word, an arsehole on the other end.
Here are some things that fall under CX:
- Brand voice / comms guide
- Customer research
- Marketing material
- Call centre scripting
- Macros (manual templates for emails that customer support use)
- Help centre articles
- How-to video tutorials
How to get started on your own CX:
You might have heard this on the podcast I share with Branka (aptly named A Table At The Back), but thought it was worth sharing here too. If you’re bootstrapping and planning on optimising your CX right now, or just want to get your head around first steps, here’s what you can do:
- Have someone do an audit of all current customer comms (what is going out, frequency, etc)
- Map it out in a Google sheet or even draw it all out as a storyboard on a whiteboard
- ID content gaps or double ups in your touchpoints
- Look at the tone of the comms – is it conveying what you want to be portraying? Does it have a consistent message strategy?
- Create a comms guide for consistency (it’s not meant to be a straight-jacket!) and share it with your team for input
- Apply that guide to all remaining comms (or any new ones you’re writing)
Some of you may not have much experience with this one. But in my opinion, it’s the one thing that ties all of the others together. You see, you have to nurture your internal customers just as much as your external ones.
Your employee experience is the foundation of both customer and user experience because let’s face it: without happy employees, you won’t (or can’t) have happy customers.
It’s more than just an extra function added solely to human resources’ responsibilities (they have enough to do!) but instead, should be run by members of people and culture, marketing and/or internal comms – and most importantly, embraced by the whole team.
There’s a bunch of stats and articles out there about the benefits of enhanced employee experiences equalling better business outcomes (ie $$). But I won’t go into them here. Just know that I have had first-hand experience and exposure to it when I ran internal comms in-house, and then when I worked for an employee experience company and more recently, when I delivered a whole (I’m talkin’ 20+ pages) website for a leadership and business consulting firm who specialised in employee experience (and the tech behind it).
Employee experiences could be:
- Creating a strong internal brand (yes this is different to the external / customer marketing branding) to attract talented folks to your organisation
- Optimising the onboarding experience to build excitement and add reassurance about starting a new role
- Increasing engagement and employee retention with regular injections of dopamine (surprise and delight!)
- And let’s not forget an offboarding experience that’s smooth and easy for both parties, while gauging important stats for why your people leave
Here are some of the ways you can make your employee experiences better:
- Have a consistent brand voice and personality for your internal comms (speak to your team like the amazing, individual humans they are!)
- Do internal comms different – in the past I’ve worked been editor of an internal printed magazine and written limericks for ‘employee of the month’
- Do training and upskilling different (think about changing the medium in which it’s delivered, hold more in-person brainstorming and make it fun)
- Implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives that promote a sense of community and feeling good
- Include a welcome pack for new recruits (videos, presents, a coffee, my favourite from personal experience was a late start on my first day)
- Hold regular team events or social activities that keep people feeling valued
- Ditch the corporate uniform
If there’s one thing you should take away (OK maybe two things)
As a founder in the early days of business, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a whole team or even a whole role dedicated to this (being a bootstrapped startup can be hard!)… the important thing is that someone does need to be on top of this. Even if that someone is you.
The second part of this is to foster an environment of collaboration. So that when you do eventually start building your team, they’re aware of the why behind everything you do and become advocates for your customers, too.