Have you ever considered why it is that you always notice a bad user experience? The form that comes up when you don’t want to fill in information, or the navigation that leaves you wondering where to go next?
On a daily basis we all encounter designed experiences that inform whether we will use a particular product, system or service in the future.
Whether you run a start-up business or an enterprise with legacy systems you will always want to grow and develop. The best way to do this is to start and end with an understanding of your customer. Frankly, it always has been. The deeper you understand their needs and behaviours - what they like, what they want and what they do - the better experience you will provide. They will return your efforts by buying your product(s) and engaging with your brand!
Brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors that lag in CX. Here are 5 reasons why putting your customers first will help your business develop.
1. They are unpredictable
We, as humans, can be unpredictable and complicated. You might produce what you think is an ideal design and send it off to be built, and only discover later through the analytics that people aren’t using it, or appear to be losing their way. Use this unpredictability to your advantage and allow your users to provide useful insight into elements of your product that perhaps haven’t crossed your mind. You will always be surprised by what you can learn when you watch a user engaging with your product. They will inevitably challenge your assumptions about the usability of a feature, but may also reveal a fundamental business or service issue.
2. They give you the edge
Your user could give you the edge against your competitor. Testing ideas, prototypes or early designs with them and using their feedback to improve them will help you to provide the experience that sets the standard. Create something together that makes them return again and again - that makes them come to you because it’s easier and more satisfying using your product than anyone else’s. It's important to keep looking at what you are doing well, why your repeat customers returning and repurchasing - or conversely, to analyse why your target buyer is investing in your competitor and not you. If you are questioning any of this speak to your existing customers and your ideal target market and you’ll gain those all important insights. If you want to do something better or different, this is how.
3. They minimise risk
Understanding and speaking to your users can help you prioritise your time and effort. For example, you might have (what you think are) three great ideas, but no evidence to back this up. By testing your ideas with your customers you can be sure that your budget is being spent on the right things, and not being invested in things they don’t want and will not use.
The great news is that this needn’t be an onerous task. You can do it cheaply and quickly with paper sketches or prototypes or low-fidelity digital examples that you needn’t become attached to. This liberates you to discard the things that test poorly early on with little impact, thereby reducing waste. Once you have enough research, move forward with confidence to implement your learnings.
4. They will help you answer their problems (and yours)
If a user knows exactly what they’re looking for and cannot find this in your product, they will go elsewhere. By putting your user first, and showing them you can answer their problems, the user will answer your problems too without even knowing it. They will ultimately tell you what’s useful to them and what’s not, what they like and what they don’t, and even how you can improve.
5. They will help you keep them loyal
Implement analytics software that allows you to track and monitor the performance of your digital experience (across any and all device types as usage will be different across all). Mixpanel, for example, is a powerful tool that will enable you to make better-informed and more effective optimisations of user journeys and more evidenced by data.
Tools such as Hotjar provide you with heatmaps, scroll rates and CTA hits across your interface. You can see where users are going in granular detail at a page level, and can easily identify which areas of a page aren’t being used as expected so that you can set about remedying the issues.
To summarise with a classic line from Steve Jobs:
You've got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can't start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to sell it.
Understanding your users allows you to build empathy with the people you are designing your product for. Good CX doesn’t only attract new users to your product, it’s the reason they’ll stay - and tell the world about it.