We learned about Helen Risovets, a leading entrepreneur and the CEO of IXI agency. IXI agency is a Customer Experience Agency focused on seamless customer journey and outstanding customer service.
Helen has exceptional experience in the field and aims to make people happy and bring high profit to business with her solutions.
The Idea Behind It All
To understand how IXI agency works, we started with getting the basic idea behind her company.
What’s the idea behind IXI Agency?
Helen says, “Make the design thinking approach accessible and understandable for medium-sized businesses. Today only the largest businesses, such as Apple, Uber, Airbnb, Nike, Lego, Netflix, and others, can afford to use this methodology. It is a people-oriented approach that helps these companies solve complex business problems, improve customer focus, create innovations, enter new markets, and feel confident in a competitive market. A medium-sized business cannot afford a design thinking project because of the high cost.
Why do we work with design thinking? Because having worked on complex projects in IT for almost 15 years, I clearly see the difference when the methodology is applied and when it is not. Without a methodology, the project risks are much higher, the team achieves the desired result much later, and the result is not accurate enough or standard. As a consumer, I can say that I prefer products and services that are easy, useful, and enjoyable to use, and this is the result of a design thinking approach. And I wish there were more people-oriented products and services in the world. I myself want to use exactly such well-designed products and services. Moreover, if you understand how to do it, it takes less effort to develop a valuable solution.”
The Career Journey
That was such a valuable insight into the idea behind IXI agency. But we also wanted to understand how Helen came to this point. So, we asked her, “How did you begin your career journey?”
“I started my career about 20 years ago in industrial design. I designed items for everyday life and appliances considering manufacturability and ergonomics of use. So, I started with the Product Experience (PX). Then I switched to the IT industry, at that time it was just emerging in our country. I started with web design and soon moved into mobile applications and high-load interfaces design.
More often, these were projects on business optimization and automation, many projects related to digital transformation. Here I worked on User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) Design. Then I learned the design thinking methodology, implemented this methodology in the company where I worked at the time, and achieved international certification with the implementation of a real project. From that point on, my journey with Customer Experience (CX) began.
Customer Experience is broader than previous areas of interaction design because it includes both digital and physical interaction points and the processes themselves. That is, it allows you to see the whole picture of the customer’s interaction with the brand at all levels. I also developed in related areas — I studied creative technologies and trend watching. Now, thanks to this, in projects we use the necessary mix of tools and methods to solve the problem of a particular business because each business is unique.”
An Advice For Creating Strong Solutions
We also asked Helen if she had some advice for beginners.
With that, she continues, “For beginners in CX research, I would give advice other than developing in the basic direction of design thinking and service design, to study allied fields, as I did. It could be marketing, branding, IT development, or strategy. It helps to create truly valuable, relevant, and strong solutions. For example, mastery of creative methods and trendwatching helps our team create innovative breakthrough solutions that our competitors would only reach after several years. Experience in UX, along with CX, helps create a seamless customer journey through all digital and physical touchpoints — after all, today every company uses omnichannel when a customer comes from a website, social networks, a manager, PR campaigns, and so on.
The second piece of advice is to work with real projects. This would give you further understanding here. For example, in our UXCX laboratory IXI, we provide training for beginners in research, who are immediately involved in real projects and learn in practice.”
The 2 Ultimate Goals
Every business has a goal so that they can have something to look up to for keeping their productivity high and having meaning to their business. So, we asked Helen, “What’s the goal of the IXI agency?
“We have two big goals. Goal number one is for businesses. It consists in giving an accessible tool for reducing risks, understanding your audience, and identifying ways for improvement, development, and growth. In general, it is data, often dark data that businesses do not see, to improve their efficiency and generate more profits. Goal number two is for ordinary people. We want as many companies as possible in our daily life with excellent service that we, as customers, adore. In my understanding, if a company invests the time in doing a service, then why not do it well?”, says Helen.
Teamwork And Leadership
We asked them, “What makes a team successful, in your opinion?”
According to her, “In a successful team, a leader, people, and effective management are important. And, if you have already assembled a good team, then notice the strength of these people, inspire them, and let them prove themselves. We gather people who want to move forward in our team, are driven by ambitious goals, and inspired by our projects and a cool result.”
While discussing the team’s success, we also asked Helen about her views on the importance of employees’ energy levels for business success.
She says, “In my opinion, energy is important. And I see that if the team has a similar strong energy, then the result of team building increases many times. The energy of the team unites and helps to create strong projects. If the team members have low energy, then it is difficult to create an outstanding project.”
We also asked, “How do you plan to motivate your team to go the extra mile?”
She replied, “Luckily for me, I almost never have to do it. Anyone who dives into design thinking and sees the real value and beauty of the process falls in love and catches fire for life. There is no way back here. Motivation comes from the process, goals, and, of course, from my energy as a team leader.”
Tackling Challenges With Unity
What keeps IXI Agency moving forward even during challenges? We asked Helen during the interview.
She replied, “Challenges turn on even more. Perhaps, due to our specifics, we have a team that likes to solve complex problems. After all, our approach to work is focused on solving complex problems, solutions that are not visible at first sight. This means that our team is already getting people who are turned on by the challenges themselves, rather than the usual routine tasks. Also, in our team, everyone supports and appreciates each other when we face difficult challenges. It is important to see a person in a person, with his or her problems and needs, and not just a gear for performing a set of actions.”
Technology Changing Businesses
When we asked Helen about her views on technology bringing change to a business and if it works for her company, she said:
“For the last 15 years, I have been designing technologies for business, and I see how they change companies and lead to their growth. But I also saw case when technology destroyed a company due to a poor understanding of what to do with these powerful technologies.
Technologies should help a business and should be integrated into optimized processes, otherwise the business gets overgrown unmanageable chaos and a spent budget with no return on investment. Also, technologies do not work and, at most, are dangerous in the hands of ignorant businesses. We had a project where a medical center lost 3 out of 4 of its clients in the chat just because the employees answered like they were working according to scripts.
The business itself did not notice the loss before us. They saw that people answered “thank you” to the last phrase of the manager with the wishes of a good day, and believed that they were doing a good job. Or another large chain of clinics introduced a
lot of ultra-modern goodies, and there were even facilities with renewable energy, but the number of clients was less than that of the neighboring chain because the atmosphere itself was very “cold.” Clients did not want to stay more and return there. I see that with the development of technology, it’s important to remember and understand your customer as a person, in the first place.
Design thinking helps a lot to do this because it is built on empathy. You should also understand megatrends and where technology development is heading, especially after the pandemic, when technology development has accelerated significantly. Companies that are not in a hurry to use technologies will clearly be left in the basket.”
Adapting To Digitalization & Being Innovative
“How is IXI Agency adapting to digitalization?” We asked.
Helen replied, “We are right at the forefront of the process of adaptation to digitalization, and we help companies to go through this process as comfortably as possible. Yet again, in the design thinking methodology itself, with which we work, there are principles for adaptation to digitalization. It’s process optimization (so there’s no scalable chaos), it’s empathy (understanding pain, human needs in the involved processes, human comes first, not technology), it’s test iterations of trial solutions (we run lots of experiments and check how the solution works in real conditions, correct in the best way we can adapt the solution to real life and real people).”
While talking about this, we also asked her if she uses innovative ideas to be unique.
She said, “Of course. This is a part of our work on every project. We use various creative methods to create a large number of non-standard ideas, such as TIPS (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving), synectics, lateral thinking, trend design, and others. In addition, Design Thinking is a people-oriented approach to innovation. The result of the process already implies the creation of innovation. Everything in our process contributes to the creation of innovation. We do not copy solutions from our competitors; we have tools with which we create solutions that are 10 steps ahead of competitors.”
Solving Business Requests Effectively
We asked Helen to tell us about IXI agency solutions and services and upcoming plans. With that, Helen replied:
“In addition to custom long-term design thinking projects, we have developed and are preparing to release a line of products that are aimed at helping to solve the most common business requests quickly, affordably, and with fairly high accuracy.
For example, the ‘New Customers’ product provides insight into which unnoticed business segments exist and what characteristics of the product need to be changed in order to gain new customers or make additional sales. Or a ‘Customer Value’ product, where we identify the gaps in the customer’s journey that lead to leaving for competitors and give recommendations on how to close them.
In total, there are 22 products in the line to help departments such as sales department, marketing, client department, development and strategy department. Each product includes research, analysis, and report with results and recommendations, joint sessions on further work, and implementation support.”
Connect with Helen Risovets on LinkedIn.
Find IXI Agency on LinkedIn.