The race to the top of the product market is no longer necessarily about providing the entire feature-set a customer wants (or what you think they want!).
Since Apple gave us the iPhone, businesses have come to realise that it’s all about providing a product a customer can use with ease; in other words, providing a great user experience – or UX. In fact, the term user experience is widely attributed to Don Norman at Apple in the 90s.
An extended feature set can always be built on later, added at an additional cost, or left to another company to build through an accessible API.
How do we design for UX?
UX is now an ubiquitous term when it comes to all forms of product design and development, through web development, to mobile apps, and enterprise software applications.
Designing a product with the user in mind poses questions like:
- “What feelings does this design evoke in the user?”
- “Is this workflow intuitive enough for our least tech-savvy user to grasp easily enough?”
- “Is our search clever enough to understand what the user is actually searching for, rather than the exact text?”
- “Will our product hold the user’s attention in a world full of distraction?”
- “Does our product provide the right help at the right times?”
In other words, UX is all about getting inside the mind of the customer, understanding their problems and needs, and designing a product that is both fit for purpose and intuitive.
The best way to develop for UX is follow a set of repeatable, evolutionary processes and design principles
“Have a structured process or methodology to consistently ask ‘who’ your customer is and what their needs are, and to continually test and measure whether you are meeting those needs in a way that creates value for your customer and your own organisation. It’s important to have some controls in place – call it governance – so that you can manage that process as objectively as possible.”
So, what does a repeatable methodology looks like in practice?
- “Conserve attention at all costs, keep(ing) each screen as minimal as possible to aid in completion and to accommodate someone partially completing the task and needing to return later”
- “Keep users in control”
- “[Have] one primary action per screen; when a single action is used, the purpose for the screen becomes more obvious”
How UX & CRM work together
As we touched on, a good UX strategy starts with understanding customers’ behaviours and preferences – which is where CRM comes in to play. A CRM or customer relationship management system is a B2B or B2C company’s lifeblood as it centralises and organises all leads, customer data, interactions, and other relevant information.
If a business has a solid CRM in place, they can use customer data to help tailor UX to a specific customer base based on their preferences and behaviours.
Quinn cites Telstra’s CRM as a critical source of user data to help create better UX and CX:
“We research our customer and user needs at various stages in an end to end journey. Across those journeys, we examine the breadth of user behaviours, drivers and also what people want to avoid, or might be anxious about. When we move to the next step in designing and implementing the experience, we look at the role of CRM in delivering what our customers need at each step in the journey.”
Applying information architecture in UX
The structure of information, how it’s presented to the user, along with the routes taken to get to the right information is a key underpinning of UX design.
Morrison at Flare HR says one of the goals of the company’s UX approach is to “ensure users can confidently make decisions and complete tasks and IA and navigation has a significant role to play in achieving that – every erroneously made selection is an opportunity to improve the experience of HR managers.”
The user feedback loop is one of the essential management strategies to refine information architecture and navigation usability.
“To address this, we run user research and usability sessions with customers and work closely with customer success and support teams to identify areas confusion and assess the effectiveness of our solutions,” says Morrison.
Why user experience is key to ROI
A 2018 report by Temkin Group found that 41% of consumers who have a poor experience with a company will spend less with them in future – which is to say, lack of consideration for user experience can have a direct impact on a company’s bottom line.
As Morrison notes, “Without a user-centred approach, successfully designing the high- or low-level architecture of a platform becomes a guessing game resulting in a high risk that solutions may not help our users complete their tasks efficiently, accurately or confidently.”
Conversely, Quinn says investing in UX at Telstra is part of a holistic approach that helps contribute to greater ROI at the company.
“The short answer is yes. UX delivers a better customer experience, greater efficiencies and a way to innovate and collaborate,” he says. “The UX team does not achieve that in isolation, however. We are part of a broader team and we are only as effective as our ability to collaborate with our customers and end users, our colleagues in engineering, product and marketing and all of the broader business functions that exist in an organisation like ours.”