No one wants to work harder than they have to, right?
Since design scholar and researcher Don Norman coined the term User Experience in 1993, UX has more than just changed our relationships with gadgets. The concept of delivering outstanding user-centric experiences has become central to our experiences as consumers.
From retail businesses to public institutions such as schools and hospitals, entities are enhancing their UX to create experiences their customers love, thereby maximizing the customer lifecycle value. Consider the rise of convenience delivered by ecommerce giants, the stay-at-home/safety-first necessities of the pandemic, and the increasing popularity of Customer Effort Score as a critical CX metric. Easier is better, right?
The big risk
Digital-first users across generations now expect their real world interactions and experiences to mirror their online UX. In fact, experiences are becoming a core focus area for businesses: Big organizations are currently investing a whopping USD 700 million to transform UX across channels.
Why? A seamless and intuitive user experience guides people along their journey, increasing conversion and even customer satisfaction. Without any effort, the user achieves their goals (and the company does, too!).
What’s so wrong with that? From a business perspective, that’s exactly the way it should be! While “increasing conversions” will always be a huge topic, it’s pretty rare to find an article like “How to decrease conversions when you’re winning too fast”.
From the human perspective, though, are we becoming — let’s just say it — lazy?
The human experience
As a company of humans (Hi there!), we occasionally like to take a step back and take a look at the holistic human experience. In this era of chasing low-effort/high-reward cycles, there’s an ongoing debate over whether removing short-term challenges will hurt us in the long term.
Throughout human history, complex and evolving difficulties have forced us to build resilience, adaptability, and tolerance. Unexpected obstacles and chaotic situations challenge our thinking and lead to growth. As consumers, we often prioritize known factors like reliability and predictability.
“Cause more chaos” is a rare business axiom, but “Move fast and break things” was a mantra for a time. Breaking norms might seem scary, but innovation has also powered exponential growth — just consider the gig economy, including companies like Uber and Airbnb. As consumers, we may be skeptical about these changes, but ultimately, if the thrill of trying something different delivers outstanding results, the company’s risk pays off — literally.
So, what to do? As our modern lifestyles are increasingly shaped by our experiences as consumers, are we trading in the potential for cognitive growth in return for seamless experiences? Should companies play it safe with predictable and smooth experiences, or should they innovate and shake things up, hoping for a big break?
Savvy businesses that care about humans will find the balance between seamless UX and innovation — powering not just financial but also social growth.
Designing a UX your users love
If you are a UX designer or a professional involved in shaping the customer journey, here’s how you can balance intuitive UX with one that respects the user:
- Break the pattern occasionally
It is of course ideal to create a UX environment that users find familiar, engaging, and intuitive to arrive at a desired goal. However, it is important that you strike a distinction between best practices and playing safe. For instance, if you need to introduce a control at the checkout stage that’s new by industry standards, don’t fret. There might be a learning curve for users but in the mid-term to long-term, it will help you deliver the experience you intend (and one that users welcome.)
- Use data to see challenges beyond UX
Resist the temptation to link the loss of every desired user action to your UX. There are plenty of reasons why, despite the best experience, a user may not progress on their journey with you. Consider changing one variable in the equation at a time; track, review, and scale based on how it impacts user engagement and conversion trends.
- Collaborate on gold standards
Experiential marketing is fast expanding the realm of UX. As businesses compete to set new benchmarks, it is important to arrive at a shared set of parameters, including ethics. By introducing certifications that recognize the best in business, and hosting knowledge forums, the industry can steer efforts in the right direction.
Involve your users
At the core of user experience is the users themselves. As UX designers, it’s important to truly understand your target audience, their likes and dislikes, and what drives them.
This means regularly collecting user feedback to understand what really matters. Here are a few steps you can take to transform the UX you provide.
- Start with customer journey mapping
What is the path your users take when interacting with your brand? Map the various customer journeys and identify the most important ways to better understand user interaction. Next, work with the stakeholders of each of these touchpoints to explore ways in which you could better empathize with your customers, making each experience better and more impactful.
- Eliminate redundancies
Find ways to eliminate effort-driven tasks unless absolutely necessary. For example, verifying an account can be frustrating, especially when it needs to be done multiple times. In addition, entering details that have already been shared can also be frustrating. Find ways to eliminate such redundancies and ensure high-effort tasks are limited or removed altogether, depending on what works best for your product or service.
- Create customer advisory boards
You have a plan, but aren’t sure of it. The new app interface looks great, but will it be well-received? The latest update addresses some concerns your developers have pointed out, but is it what your customers will love too? To better understand this, make a group of some of your loyal clients and get their insights! The Customer Advisory Board (CAB), can give your clients a voice, ensuring that your product roadmap is aligned with user expectations.
- Implement a feedback loop
If you don’t have a CAB in place, fear not! With customer feedback surveys, you can reach out to clients to seek feedback. Offer them a small token of your gratitude for taking the time to give you much-needed insight into your market perception. This will encourage your customers to engage more consciously with your brand, giving you the answers you need to make informed decisions.
The growth of AI, the metaverse, and experiential marketing is set to further transform consumer experiences. While customer-centricity is here to stay, it’s important to build balance into each customer journey. Balancing ease and challenge, norms and innovation, efficiency and humanity — collecting feedback along the way is the best way to both stay competitive and keep it real.
As businesses that are looking to remain competitive, it’s important to always in sync with the latest trends and expectations. Ensure you’re regularly collecting and acting on feedback, conducting market research surveys, and creating a competitive UX that helps users achieve their goals with ease.
Not sure where to start? Sogolytics can help! Our platform is designed to gather and analyze feedback, unveiling insights that help you make informed decisions for exponential business growth.