Creating a strong UX foundation as an essential step towards customer satisfaction

Miele has always had a reputation for putting its customers first – and Miele X takes the same approach. One of the areas where Miele X is developing its expertise is User experience (UX), with a growing team that’s increasingly involved in a variety of projects. We talked to Matthew van den Steen, Senior UX Architect, and Renée Klazinga, Senior Usability Specialist, who respectively joined Miele X in 2022 and 2021, about how the UX team adds value to the business.

Matthew believes that UX is fundamental to the way Miele X operates. “We're really the advocate of the customer,” he says. “We’re interested in how they experience our websites and what they do when they get there, so we can make it as user-friendly as possible and give them a premium experience. That’s why the research from Renée’s team is really important.”

The foundation of UX

He explains that when most people think about UX, they think about creating wireframes and site design. But he and Renée are working on what he describes as “the foundation of UX” – the vital input that inspires and supports the designers in their design process. “Renée does the fundamental research, and with that, I’m able to complete the customer journeys and analyse the structure of the website, so the designers have what they need to start creating designs.”

Renée adds that her role isn’t just about researching how customers experience one page on a website. She looks at different parts of the user journey through the whole site. “That’s where Matthew plays a key role because I need to understand the customer journeys to be able to do that. So, he visualises and maps them, and then I feed into that by researching and testing them to see how we can enrich each journey.”

She explains that the customer is the starting point. “It’s about trying to understand who the customers are, their needs, and what will make them happy so we can deliver an experience that matches up to whatever they’re looking for – from the start.”

Deeper understanding

For Renée, there’s only one way to build this deep understanding of Miele’s customers: “What we do is talk to people,” she explains. “Depending on the research type, we ‘ll interview the customers, and in the testing phase, we often ask for their feedback on our designs, too.” She adds that this enables Miele X to pick up things that customers like and dislike so the team can improve the overall experience before the site goes live.

This research also helps Matthew understand the customer journey before customers even arrive at the Miele website. He explains that it’s important to know where customers are coming from. He calls this the awareness stage: “Before they enter our website, they become aware of Miele and our products from somewhere else. But is that through social media, Google, email marketing, or something different?”

He adds that once the customer has arrived on a landing page, what they do next is crucial. “With each step of that journey, we try to understand whether the customer is happy. What are the problems and the advantages? And what are the business opportunities? For example, should we feature a new product on the home page? And, if so, how can we do this in the most effective way?” In short, he says, they are mapping the whole journey from beginning to end, looking at customer reactions at each stage and assessing the business opportunities, as well as potential issues.

Global audiences

With a global brand like Miele, the UX teams play a big part in understanding the differences between customers around the world. Matthew explains that the starting point is usually a more generic journey that applies to customers in most markets.

But, as Renée points out, awareness of the Miele brand differs from country to country, and this plays a role. “People pay more attention to different aspects of the products in different markets,” she adds. “Understanding these nuances can be crucial in being able to sell a product in the correct way.”  So, her teams talk to the local Miele market teams and customers in that location to identify any differences.

Sparking creativity

For Renée, one of the advantages of gaining such a deep understanding of their customers is that it enables the team to brainstorm creative ways to deliver them a delightful experience.  As an example, she details one project to add value to Miele’s Smart Home app that she and Matthew both worked on.

Matthew explains that the project aimed to ensure that customers were aware of the app and its benefits. “So, our starting point was identifying where in the journey the customers learned that we had the app. That meant mapping the entire customer journey. And as we mapped the journey, we started to see some opportunities – particularly in developing a consistent way of referring to the Smart Home app. That’s when we asked Renée and her team to do some research into names for the app.”

Renée picks up the story: “We took Matthew's customer journey as a starting point to understand where the mismatches and confusions were. So, we did some desk research, looked at existing research, and then brought together a creative team from across Miele X to brainstorm names that customers might understand better and which would also be a good brand match for Miele.” Once they had developed some new potential names, Renée’s team tested these with customers in several key markets.

She explains that the project is still ongoing. However, she was able to give some clear recommendations from the research, which process took just two weeks. Matthew says this added real momentum to the project: “People were really on board, and much feedback was coming in. That's what we want from our projects.”

Recognising the importance of UX

For Matthew, it’s the focus on user input that makes Miele X’s approach to UX stand out. “We have a user testing platform, and a lot of time and energy is put into acquiring user feedback. So, there’s much focus on a customer-centric approach.”

Renée also sees how UX is gaining recognition in the business. “At Miele X, I really admire how UX research is being applied to more and more projects. Two years ago, we might have only been involved in one project at a time. But now, people are asking for our resources even before they start their projects because they see the added value it gives them.”

She says the collaborative nature of Miele X fully supports this. “Everybody’s very approachable. So, we're growing and learning together and doing a great job integrating customer research and mapping customer journeys wherever we can. And we’re always exploring new ways to make a bigger impact.”

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