UX Design | Accelerator
It is not uncommon to hear people talk about User Experience (UX Design, UX, UXD) when talking about customers and working on creating a customer centric business. UX Design enhances customer centricity by improving the use, accessibility and general mood when using the product. User experience design looks at every aspect of a product or service as perceived by users ensuring that your product or service remains customer centric.
One very popular example of user experience can be found in city planning. Imagineyou are walking along the road (via sidewalk) and approach a corner. The expected use is for the pedestrian to stay on the sidewalk and turn in the desired direction at the corner. This particular corner, however, is an unfenced vacant lot and the pedestrian could cut through the lot to save time. Over time, many pedestrians have chosen to cut across the lot resulting in a well worn path. Do you stay on the sidewalk or choose the shortcut? What would your user, or customer, do if faced with the same choice?
Here is another way to think about it. Consider an airport terminal. In many larger airports, you will find a choice of options to traverse the distance between areas of the airport. These choices include: walking along the hall, standing still and using the people mover (flat escalator) or using a motorized assistance vehicle.
There are many options to consider however each option will be based on factors that matter to your customer. A few factors may include:
- walking distance
- amount of baggage
- time until departure/arrival
- health (in terms of ability to walk)
- lack of desire for exercise
- fear of people movers
In addition, there are the people who will modify the suggested use of mobility features such as those customers who choose to walk on the moving people movers in hopes of getting to their final destination faster.
Understanding how your customer will use your product is vital to ensure what you are building will be used correctly. Continued research will be necessary to confirm expected use is the current use.
When you fail to understand how your customer will use the product, you leave yourself and your company open to issues ranging from unintended use to liabilities. This is just one of the many reasons you will see warnings on certain products that seem to be common sense such as the “Caution: Hot” warning on coffee cups or the “Product not intended for use with ___________”. Somewhere along the line, a customer has used a product in an unintended way resulting in consequences.
It is for these reasons that one must look at each of your products and services through a customer centric or human centric lens. As with customer discovery, you want to have a number of testers who can provide feedback on their user experience journey.
Testing User Experience
Step 1: Your Experience
Walk yourself through the expected use process and make notes about your thoughts, feelings, issues and challenges. Set this information aside.
Step 2: Ideal Customer User Experience
Having identified your ideal customer persona in the next exercise, it is best to use the UX approach of Journey Mapping to visualize the process the customer will go through to use your product. This will allow you to develop a narrative that describes the process and allows you to see the actual usage case versus the expected use.
5 Key Elements of a Journey Map
- Customer Persona (Your Ideal Customer)
- Expected Outcome
- Stages (ex. pre-purchase, evaluation process, purchase, use)
- Feelings, Experience and Actions
A customer persona is another way of looking at your ideal customer. In this step, we will give your customer key attributes to truly understand your audience. It is important to make your customer persona as real as possible.
To create the Customer Persona, we will break it down into the following steps:
- Image/Photo or Drawing – What does your ideal customer look like?
- Age – How old is this person. Please choose an exact age.
- Gender – What gender is this person?
- Physical Description – Describe your customer including aspects not seen in the image such as height, weight, body conditions or other descriptive features.
- Job – What does your ideal customer do? Where do they work? What is their work day like? What is their income?
- Likes – What does your ideal customer like to do? Do they have hobbies? Do they have family? Where do they live? Do they go to the gym or watch tv?
You can include other factors in your Customer Persona such as the type of house they live in, their city or neighborhood, whether they have a mortgage and any other key factors that bring your persona to life. It may also helpful to describe their Dislikes or Pet Peeves.
What can your customer expect as an outcome when buying your product? The outcome is usually related to the problem or the pain point. A runner may look for a shoe to help them run faster. A parent may be looking for a tasty prepared meal that is healthy, they can enjoy eating and serve to their family on a busy night to save time. How will your product help the customer?
Each customer goes through a variety of stages in the buying process.
The customer identifies a need or a want. This could be in relation to a problem or need, to replace a broken or expired item, or simply for want.
Evaluation Process (Deciding on a Solution)
The stringency of the evaluation process may vary depending on product cost and urgency of need. Low cost items such as pens may require less thought a high cost item like a computer. Customers will also use past experiences in the process. Imagine you are in a grocery store. How do you choose which grocery items to buy? Chances are that many of your purchases are repeated purchases based on past experiences or likes. The evaluation process then comes down to price, condition (particularly for meat and produce), and current needs. A large purchase such as a computer, appliances or a car will usually require much more research, even if you are already familiar with the brand. A customer may spend hours or days reading review, asking questions and getting feedback from their network. An expensive purchase is a greater risk thus customers often give large purchases more thought. What is the process your customer will use to consider your product for purchase.
Purchase (The Transaction)
Your customer has made a decision and now it is time to buy. Whether the purchase is online, over the phone, or in store, the purchase process is an experience that can make or break future sales. Consider how your customer enters the purchase funnel. Do they need to find a sales person? Add a product to cart? How easy is it to pay for their purchase? Is it cash-only? Can they use credit cards? Is your site slow to load? Is the check-out line long? Are the sales people friendly? Think about how you feel in various purchase scenarios. Have you ever had a negative purchase experience? Making a purchase should be an easy and pleasant experience in every step of the process.
Use (Using the Product)
Have you ever watched an unboxing video? If so, you will know that opening your purchase is an experience in itself. The opening process should be enjoyable for your customer and some of the best companies take extra steps to make that happen through the use of quality packaging, adding little surprises (stickers or messages) or other perks. These little steps make the purchase feel more special and build an emotional connection between the customer and the company.
Now that you have unpackaged the product, received the email link or received your product in another way, what is your next step. Consider how your customer will react to the product.
- If it needs to be installed, how easy is the process?
- Does your product need batteries? Did the company include batteries or is your customer frustrated trying to find a set of AAA batteries to make their new purchase work?
- Does the user need to read instructions before use or is your product intuitive?
- Does the product need to be assembled?
- If the customer has questions, is it easy to reach support or get assistance?
Post-User Experience (Actions After Use)
The customer experience does not stop at use. When considering the post-user experience, we want to identify the following:
- How did the product make the customer feel (happiness, satisfaction, regrets)?
- Did the product solve a problem (the reason for purchase)?
- Does the product perform as expected ?
- Is the quality as expected?
The post-user experience is vital for any company looking to have repeat sales and build brand reputation. What are your long-term expectations for the customer funnel? A poor experience could completely eliminate any potential future revenue from your customer or their network and result in negative reviews which will lead to a loss of customers.