CUA of the Month – August, 2005

David McQuillen
"Authentic knowledge is comprised of both theoretical understanding and direct experience."
–Indian proverb
 
David McQuillen
Head of Customer Experience (CX)
Credit Suisse

Engineering the customer experience at Credit Suisse

by Jesse Berkowitz

One of the most common jabs at senior level executives is that they're out of touch with what actually takes place at the customer interaction level. These executives would clearly benefit from having David McQuillen's teams behind them.

David heads up two groups at Credit Suisse, a global leader in financial services such as banking and insurance, investment banking and institutional asset management:

  • The Customer Experience team focuses on improving the quality of customer interactions by making customer interfaces and processes (e.g. Web sites, bank branches, call centers, forms) easier to use, more enjoyable and more useful. This 7-member team – which includes 3 CUAs – features experts in architecture, interior design, Web design and process design.
  • The Voice of the Customer team supports Credit Suisse's statistical quality control initiatives ("six sigma"). They help project managers gain insights into customer behavior through direct observation, user testing, surveys, interviews, etc. This 8-member team includes experts in market research, complaint management and data mining.

These two teams handle a combined 100 projects every quarter and possess 38 different research methods and techniques. Says David: "We love what we do."

David's path to the customer experience field began as a strategy consultant at Accenture. While analyzing client Web sites to identify key success factors, he observed a clearly unsuccessful trend: they were all hard to use. And the problems weren't restricted to the Web. Usability issues carried over into all areas of a company's business – from their marketing materials to their internal procedures – adversely affecting both customers and employees.

But despite the potential for problems to proliferate, David's teams at Credit Suisse manage to keep things simple. "We ask ourselves: 'What is critical to our customers?' and we look at three key elements of the customer's experience: is it easy, is it useful and is it enjoyable?" he says. "It's been quite helpful to have gone through HFI's training. I think usability practitioners sometimes feel mistreated and wonder why people don't pay more attention to their recommendations. That's why it's important to have the CUA credential and use a language that everyone can understand."

In addition to communicating usability concepts without jargon, emotional appeal has been David's best means to get executive support.

"You can't propose a usability project just based on numbers and data," he says.

"To get executives motivated about usability initiatives – to make them really care – you have to make an emotional connection and let them go through the customer experience themselves."

For instance, his team developed a technique called experience immersion, where executives actually go through the customer experience themselves, completing tasks such as applying for a mortgage, opening an online account, or calling the customer support center. "There were some architects designing our branch banks who didn't really have an idea of how customers actually used their branches" recalls David. "They worked with us and we really opened their eyes. If you haven't gone through the experience yourself, you just don't understand it.

Staying close to the customer also helps keep their needs in perspective.

"Customers aren't nearly as interested in us as we like to think they are," observes David. "We're in the finance business, so that's what we think about all day. But the average person doesn't want to read a 20-page brochure about mortgages or study our Web site to learn about interest rates. They just want to get what they need and move on.

"We also have an interesting challenge here in Switzerland since there are four primary language groups in the country: French, German, Italian, and Rumantsch. Each segment has its own expectations about our services, so we've learned not to make assumptions across groups."

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to hfi@humanfactors.com

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