A different way to achieve different results.

Expert Product Strategy, Management, and UX/UI Design consulting from the viewpoint of the Customer Experience, specializing in CX and UX audit, research & analysis.

Finding the Right Questions

The Spelunk process focuses on ensuring that the proper attention and time is spent finding the right questions to address rather than jumping in to a customer experience solution that may not achieve any measurable success, and by approaching your challenges from the best direction, whether that be customer research, UX/UI design, analytics, or change management. We have many years of experience developing successful solutions for a wide range of businesses, industries and markets of all sizes, but our most valuable expertise is in working closely with you and your customers to find bespoke questions, answers and solutions to your specific situation.

Mapping the Strategy

Once we achieve clarity and consensus on the core customer experience questions and answers (or ways to find them), we can easily create a crystal-clear map to show where we’re headed and how to get there. Whether we need additional research and insights, or if we can begin design thinking and co-creation efforts with key customers, the strategy and planning will direct our efforts in an effective, efficient, low-risk manner. By facilitating these strategy sessions with the right mix of your leaders, stakeholders and executors, communication and alignment is ensured, leading to lower stress and higher confidence in quick achievements.

Guiding the Expedition

Executing the strategy is streamlined when consensus, alignment and planning are all pointed in the same direction. Once the discovery process, customer research and journey maps are well-established and ready to clearly guide all efforts, we can help you produce the customer experience solutions in-house, we can assist with coordination and liaison with outside contractors, or we can bring in our own partner agencies to build whatever is necessary. Regardless of how you want to execute your innovative path to greatness, we’ll be your guide, scout, trailblazer, translator or sherpa.

Excellent Questions

What is Customer Experience?
Customer Experience (CX) encompasses the quality, meaningfulness and effectiveness of each individual interaction, as well as the holistic sum of all touchpoints, encountered during a customer’s lifetime relationship with your brand. When each touchpoint is meaningful, valuable and even treasured by a customer, while also delivering or leading to revenue for the brand with highest efficiency, the customer experience is optimized and both brand and customer succeed at the highest level possible. Understanding what the customer truly needs and wants (not what they say they want) and how they prefer to find, purchase, use, receive support, upgrade, purchase anew, refer and evangelize your offerings, is absolutely critical for determining how to deliver the best possible, most efficient and lowest-cost interaction at every point along the customer journey.
For more information, consider these resources:
“The Truth About Customer Experience” by Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan, & Conor Jones in Harvard Business Review (Sep 2013) “‘Customer Experience’ Is Today’s Business Benchmark” by Martin Zwilling in Forbes (Mar 2014) “Understanding Customer Experience” by Adam Richardson in Harvard Business Review (Oct 2010)
How does stopping or stepping back help us move forward?
When asked how to win in a gunfight, Doc Holliday answered, “Take your time in a hurry.” Wyatt Earp is reputed to have said, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”. The bottom line is that rushing forward into battle or business can lead to catastrophic failure, and while you may very well learn a lot with a “fail fast” approach, sometimes those failures can prove fatal. Why risk your reputation, brand, market share or credibility by rushing to launch when spending even a small amount of time ensuring that you are aiming at the right target in the best possible way? You will be amazed by the amount of time and money saved simply by properly thinking through business goals, customer needs, and the alignment of processes that help both achieve success and satisfaction. In other words, “A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved” (Charles Kettering, General Motors), and problem finding and stating is much, much faster than executing solutions, much less executing wrong solutions.
What artifacts or deliverables can we expect?
The process of problem-finding, strategy, planning, research, change management, and production can entail creation of a wide range of artifacts depending upon each client’s situation – our philosophy is “just enough documentation” to do the job and prevent slow, unnecessary effort. Typically, we perform initial questioning and brainstorming sessions that result in reports of findings to catalog the wealth of information uncovered, leading to challenge maps and a final challenge statement to guide subsequent work. Customer and competitive research efforts often entail scripts, qualitative / quantitative results and analysis reports, and typically culminate in personas that describe the target audiences. Discovery efforts typically lead to customer journey maps that visually describe the myriad touchpoints between users and your brand, both current and future desired states. Working from these journey maps yields touchpoint analysis & metrics that indicate areas for improvement. Strategy briefs establish the final direction and lead to planning briefs for execution. Other guiding documents such as brand briefscreative briefs and user experience (UX) briefs may be used to provide additional, detailed direction for design efforts. These are typical, but not required, deliverable artifacts – your situation will determine the best way to achieve the greatest success, both fastest and with the least amount of project overhead.
What methods and processes do you use?
The Spelunk approach is a combination of methodologies with customer-centric design principles at its foundation. We use a variety of tools depending upon each client’s situation, including creative problem solving methods such as Osborn’s Applied Imagination and Basadur’s Simplex; brainstorming tools such as de Bono’s Lateral Thinking, 5 Whys, SCAMPER, TRANSFORM, RQI’s Question Formulation Technique™, various techniques developed at IDEO, Cooper Design, Innosight, Smart Design and Frog Design; and solution methods such as Design Thinking, Pretotyping, Gamestorming, and basic storytelling; plus a wide variety of customer research methodologies. The critical skill is knowing when each tool is appropriate and using it to its maximum advantage. Your situation will drive the choice of methodologies, artifacts and resources used to generate the best possible end result.
What are your superpowers?
Over the past 25+ years, we have learned a great deal about how best to engage in the process of design with a wide range of customers and clients. As a result, we choose to work with colleagues who possess the superpowers to care, feel, think and make at the highest levels of quality. In our Discovery efforts, we are empathetic, insightful, curious, thoughtful, caring, energetic, questioning, investigative, detectors, pattern recognizers, synthesizers, adapters and deep thinkers who are intensely focused and concerned about your success above anything else. In our Strategy efforts, we are collaborative, facilitators, synthesizers, change catalysts, visionaries, persuaders, coaches, advisors, guides, pathfinders, futurists and partners. In our Execution efforts, we are deeply experienced, T-shaped, diverse, talented, creative, conceptual, inventive, tireless experimenters, craftspeople and makers who sweat the details to ensure satisfaction for both you and your customers.
What is the best way to engage Spelunk?
We start with a basic conversation, learning where you are and what you’re trying to achieve. The process is rigorous but informal, intense but easygoing, and the best results occur when we simply start asking questions with open minds, humility and intense curiosity. Compensation methods are also tailored to your situation, and can entail retainer, day rate, or fixed-bid contracts. We work through the same process with our customers (you!) and want to be sure that your customer experience is ideal, delightful and valuable, too.

Successful Expeditions

“Our organization had the privilege of using Gary’s talents for a major redesign of our web properties. Gary has an excellent ability to listen to his clients, understand the challenges faced, and then re-work the problem from the end-users’ perspective. He’s both practical and creative in his solutions and he’ll spend the time necessary to research alternative approaches. His broad expertise in design, usability, and human experience factors are unrivaled by other experts I’ve worked with. In fact, our organization had simultaneous projects running and Gary was the key resource leveraged across both.”
Chad Zenner

Director, Digital Marketing, Principal Financial Group

“Gary is a no-BS doer with an arsenal of techniques and thought exercises that he obviously draws from not only a deep pool of experience, but also his ability to bridge the planes of creativity and rational thought with seeming ease. From an engineer’s perspective, he is a pleasure to work with, combining and neutralizing information into a form that transmutes a concept into a blueprint clearly and concisely; blueprints that I can quantify engineering effort and complexity with. I can count on Gary, and appreciate the unique set of skills he brings to the table – on a regular and reliable basis.”
Kevin Ferron

Director of Engineering, Zynga

“Gary is a true creative professional. Clearly his work is exceptional and he applies great creative passion to every project. I’ve had the privilege to work with Gary at Agency.com as well as on various other projects and each time has been both enjoyable and highly productive. These results can be attributed to Gary’s strong professionalism, broad knowledge of design, marketing, technology, but most importantly to his infectious desire to have fun while doing great work. Gary has always been a leader that isn’t afraid to get in and get the job done.”
Chris Cooper

Healthcare Sales Executive, Informatica

Interested in seeing how far Customer Experience Strategy might take you?