Three Steps to Consistent, Connected, Cross Channel Customer Experience

Alan Colville delivers a hands-on workshop catapulting our UX beyond digital to create consistent, connected and cross channel customer experiences.


With digital creating new expectations and customers expecting better experiences, the business world is finally seeing value in user experience. Alan argued that this requires new ways of thinking, new ways of working and embracing new business models that create experiences that are consistent, connected and cross channel.

Alan observed that high impact companies bridge the digital divide by spending more time working on the end-end experience. Customer experience is the sum of all experience a consent has with your goods or services over the duration of their relationship with you. The business world sees new value in the customer experience, but only 25% of customer experience programmes actually improve the customer experience.

To explore the reasons why, Alan asked workshop participants to consider three questions:

  • What’s the makeup of your organisation?
  • What’s your approach to research?
  • What type of UX work is that you actually do?

These answers were used as lenses throughout the workshop.

Alan explained that he tends not to start with customers, but with the context within which the experience takes place – the make up of the business. Established businesses are recognising that transformation is upon them. Change is obligatory. The business changing value of what we do in UX is becoming apparent, so now is the time to take UX up a notch to respond to this context.

Alan asked us to think about the backbone of our own organisations. Is it around coaching and training? Is your governance clear and transparence? Is the process expressed in a standard language across teams? If we are going to achieve great customer experience, we need to understand our organisation.

As UX designers, we need to understand the customer journey, have a common language, and stop dabbling in CX and get organisationally committed.

Alan made three key points for organisations:

  • If your research is ad hoc usability testing, it’s time to change.
  • If your research is single channel, it’s time to change.
  • If you’re not doing ethnographic research, it’s time to change.

He recommended that research should be periodic rather than a big hit or ad hoc. It should be an iterative part of your process, and should be about digital AND non-digital, as the answer is not always automation. He also recommended centralising research so that people know where to find it in your organisation. If you can bring your research to life in a simple story, that will make it easier to communicate powerfully at all levels in the organisation.


Workshops participants worked together in teams to list the things they would usually put on a persona with a goal of buying a sofa – a considered purchase with a decision that takes more than 30 days.

McKinsey found that there are 20% more touch points annually. This complexity needs to be reflected in our personas so they are more journey driven from the start. Alan challenged workshop participants to consider what additional information types they would add to their personas to account for this requirement for cross-channel, connected customer experiences.

Participants suggested that a simplified pathway of trusted channels would be a way to complement the trigger points they would usually include in a persona. Other participants suggested including the context for the purchase decision and learning styles in their personas.

Alan shared his own practices when developing journey driven personas, including ensuring the persona considers the end-to-end experience, how they use different channels (including non-digital channels), and identifying the key moment in their journey that really matters.


Workshop participants worked together in teams to list the items they would now include in a customer journey map based on the issues explored in the workshop.

Suggestions included thinking about the context around the purchase and the expectations customers have. Alan observed that we often don’t take our journey maps far enough – we need to go right the way through to the cessation of service, which can sometimes be difficult to map.

Alan concluded by summing up ways of ensuring cross channel consistency. Movement between channels and human verses digital are two specific areas he spends time researching, along with the preferences of customers and how these can be reflected in the customer journey.

We don’t push our clients to think about their brand promise enough. We need the answer to take what we do as UX designers up a notch. UX is not just a design tool – it is a business tool.

Alan Colville

Alan is an award winning User Experience Consultant living in Bristol. He has spent almost two decades in a variety of roles. He has been the customer experience guy at large companies like BT and Virgin Media, a UX designer for digital agencies, founder of a web start-up and part of an international cooperative of designers and developers. Recently, Alan has been Head of User Experience at True Digital and today he works as a freelance Customer Experience Consultant.