Controlling consumer touchpoints by designing from outside-in

January 21, 2013

Designing from outside-in has been on top of my mind these days and I’ve decided to write about it. If you are in Singapore, this is the Lean UX week! Do catch it if you can.

I’ve decided to cover something a little bit more traditional that I feel people kinda forgot. We talk a lot about user experience (UX), be it a device, website, let alone a service. But I found myself lost about what it really is. So I’m figuring out how to be able to, in baby-steps, design experience in a way that is simple yet effective.

Experience has been especially relevant in this era of free information where it is much more difficult to earn loyalty or simply presence in the minds of consumers. As such, marketing strategies has moved from a one-way communication push to a 2-way conversation. Or better still, one that gets viral.

The big question I’m posing here is; how do we, with limited resources, provide the best experience for a consumer in a way that will translate to brand equity? I think that it is as important to slip in nuances of your identity system so people would link that experience you provide uniquely to your brand. What kind of experiences actually matter uniquely to your consumers? That’s how you earn loyalty. It’s when you OWN a good experience in your customers minds. So in simple terms, today’s formula is;

Customer needs + Brand Promise = Brand experience

As a cumulative process, we have to provide many mini good experiences at all stages of the consumer decision process; that is pre-purchase, purchase and post purchase



In the pre-purchase stage, we are looking at making a good initial impression. Looking professional is the basic requirement for one to consider your product, and this applies to all, from low-cost to premium products. What’s more important here is to create an accurate impression. A visual designer would come handy here to know exactly the kind of visual that would best elicit the right impression to readers at a particular touchpoint. Give a misleading visual + copy; A consumer gets the wrong expectation of the product; He ends up disappointed in your store. Such a bad experience would actually backfire on your credibility simply because you’ve just broken what the audience has perceived as your brand promise.

A good pre-purchase experience would land the brand in the consumers’ consideration list, making them move on to the purchase stage. The idea in the purchase stage is to give the consumer a taste of the product. Common examples include free product samples, test-drives for cars and free trials for software. The challenge here, is making sure that the consumer gets a good experience as how you controlled it to be, even if the consumer did not end up buying it. One could come out from a automobile showroom tweeting either of this two;

1 – “Decided to drop the option of car XXX, doesn’t feel quite right.”

2 – “Car XXX a little too sporty for me. Nice to drive but just not my type I guess :) “

Do you see the difference? Not only is the consumer complimenting but also branding car XXX as sporty. That would probably attract sporty people from that particular consumer’s network. The potent for network marketing is probably the reason why companies invest so much in making stores look good and that the staff are well trained to preach the brand promise. Starbucks scores in this area I would say. For sure their coffee is not the best in my list. From their friendly staff that would remember your name to the lucky 100th customer that gets a free drink ( I got it twice already!). These are simply but well-thought experiences that are within the provider’s control.


Controlling post-purchase touchpoints entails delivering on your brand promise. Exceed the customers’ expectation beyond usage and performance. A lot of companies under leverage post purchase touchpoints. Increase your brand loyalty through say, efficient after sale services, loyalty coupons, newsletters, or anything to delight your customers. Invest in your customers for they are a strong marketing tool. This will get you not only repeat purchases but also customers endorsing and recommending your brand to others. Such brand equity is key to sustainable and profitable growth to any company.


To sum everything up, I conclude with the notion of designing from outside-in, something I’m still trying to fully grasp – a design process that is user-centered and focused on brand experience. Be in control of the important consumer touchpoints and slip in nuances of your brand promise to increase brand equity.


Harmonizing your ‘Touchpoints’ by Scott Davis and Tina Longoria

The consumer decision journey – McKinsey Quarterly


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