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  • Writer's pictureKeith Pelkey

Strategy Role of Experience Managers (Part 2)

In “Part 1” of the Strategic Role of the Experience Manager, we primarily outlined the role, of an experience manager. The goal of the experience manager is to identify business opportunities and design solutions that foster positive product and service customer experiences to advance business profitability and growth.

In Part 2, we will delve into the activities, tools, and methods of opportunity discovery and prioritization. We’ll review how a large financial company processed customer and workforce experience issues to expand their products and services into metropolitan markets.

Gathering Insights

A national financial management company seeking to expand their services into specific metropolitan markets had known and unknown customer-focused issues to consider. Existing suburban and rural sales and marketing materials for their financial products and services would not be sufficient in a metropolitan market. Constructing offices in a city would be required, but getting a certain target group to visit those offices could be a challenge as most of the target group work in the city but live in the suburbs. What about unknown issues customers may have? How do we get the customer’s perspective (outside-in) on what a good experience would entail?

The team identified issues they thought needed to be addressed, but they also drafted questions to interview target customer groups relative to - sex, age, income status, etc. The interviews allowed the gathering of customer insights on what would be a good experience. But, this was an enlightening experience for the team, as the collected data was reviewed, the team dropped many of their bias (inside-out thinking) and aligned around the customer feedback.

Opportunity Framing

The are three steps in processing customer insights into meaningful solution actions:

  • Create themes

  • Draft problem statements

  • Generate hypothesis statements

Shift conducted a series of exercises to "affinitize" data and insights into “like” categories of issues and opportunities. The team now saw what was "really" important to customers and where in the organization - sales, marketing, operations - the customer experience could be improved. While creating theme groups from the data, there was a need to draft problem/opportunity statements. Such statements clarify the theme-category issues and opportunities into something more actionable.

These problem/opportunity statements were made visible in a service blueprint and a “friction score” (customer pain) was applied to each statement. This aligned the team on the issues most important to customers. It also showed them what was the experience pain-point, where in the interaction of customers the friction surfaced, and in most case what functional business entity could best drive a solution.

The team then formulated hypothesis statements. Hypothesis statements are

high-level solution concepts about a particular, defined problem to be solutioned in the design phase.

No single hypothesis is expected to be the “one” solution for a problem, often there are multiple hypotheses. But, in framing problems, this activity is the starting point for the design teams to coalesce their solution efforts in the solution phase of human centered design.

Opportunity Focus

Since not all problems or hypotheses are of equal value to the organization, the team needed to prioritize what would be addressed. Shift applied their unique prioritization tool to establish an “order” of what would be addressed first. The team defined three categories of decision criteria:

  • Desirability - does the customer want this

  • Viability - will it move the organization towards its’ business goals

  • Feasibility - do we have the capabilities to do this - people, technology, processes, etc.

By setting criteria in these three categories and creating a weighted scoring system, all identified problems and their subsequent hypotheses were prioritized. All ideas stayed on the list of actions, but the “order to address”of these issues were clear and supported by leadership.


In framing problems/opportunities experience managers need to “lead” an organization through the volume of issues that, if addressed, would advance the customer experience and business goals. This requires a systematic process that encompasses:

  • Outside-in thinking mindset - gathering customer insights on the issues

  • Repeatable process & tools - Insights, Frame and Focus to address the “right” issues

  • Leadership skills - to provide process and tools to design teams and senior leaders

Shift’s next article will discuss the Solution phase of Human Centered Design…


Interested in learning more? Reach out to Shift to schedule a conversation, we’re always happy to chat.


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