On May 23, 2016, I had surgery to remove a brain tumor. I won’t go into the gory details, because who wants to hear about that? I’m here, I’m fine. I want to talk about user experience.
Here’s the thing. The day I was discharged from having brain surgery, as I was lying in my own bed, finally, Anthem Blue Cross called me. I have no idea why. Because in order to confirm I was me, they wanted me to enter the day of my discharge into my phone in a certain way. I had no idea what they were talking about. I’d just had brain surgery. I hung up.
They knew I was discharged, which is why they called me at home. They knew I had brain surgery, because they had to approve the procedure before I could have it. So why were they calling me 4 days after surgery and asking me to enter stuff they already knew into a phone in a certain way so they could talk to me about heaven knows what? Yeah, yeah, HIPAA and all that. I didn’t care.
Then, in January 2017, Anthem got it into its head to assign people to different primary care doctors. I won’t go into the details of that finally-resolved nightmare, but the upshot was that they assigned me to a doctor in Massachusetts. Except I live in California.
Terrible user exerperience.
It’s About the Site Visitor, Not You
Think about this with regard to your own website, or even your own business. Are you so wrapped up in your metrics and processes that make sense to you, that you don’t take time to make sure there’s an intuitiveness, a flow to your user experience?
We forget the purpose of the business and the website is to gain customers, and if we make the user experience miserable for visitors because we didn’t put ourselves in their shoes, they probably won’t return to you. At the very least, they won’t have nice things to say about you. According to HelpScout, citing an American Express Survey in 2011, “78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.”
This might require thinking of a different and better way of doing things. “Industry standard” might not bring you the most customers. Even if all your competitors are doing the same thing, does that mean you need to?
How Well Do You Know Your Customer?
It’s tempting to think that you know all there is to know about your product or service, and if you build it, they will come.
But who is your potential customer? What is their age? What is their gender? What is their socio-economic status? What is their persona? Ardath Albee, in Content Marketing Institute, writes, “A marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.”
But personas are not just for marketing. They’re for customer service, for professional services, for products. Who are your customers? The answers will drive the decisions you make, the services you provide, and the processes you create.
How Not to Provide Customer Service
In my case, what is going on in my life that you know about? It’s quite possible that calling a patient the day she gets out of the hospital from brain surgery might not be a good time to start chatting with her. What if you created a different process for following up on patients?
What if you’ve provided terrible service, and the customer has posted all over social media how much they hate you and why? That’s probably not the time to send out a customer satisfaction survey. “Oh, I’ll give you my opinion! You won’t like it!”
What if responding to complaints they sent you didn’t entail your auto-responses, misunderstood English, and copying and pasting boilerplate text that has nothing to do with what they’re talking about? I know this saves money, but does it save you money if the customers have nothing to do with you ever again? And tell all their friends?
If you have a phone tree 4 or more layers deep so they can talk to someone who microspecializes in their topic, will that customer feel all warm and fuzzy about you when they hang up? Or, is there a better process? I don’t know about you, but I remember when actual receptionists answered the phone, and she/he could run circles around today’s automated systems. Yes, I’m that old.
Switching Up Your Processes
As a designer and programmer, I know how easy it is to be so wrapped up in a project that I can’t see that I’m headed in the wrong direction. You may need a new set of eyes on your processes.
Focus groups can be a great way to step people through your processes to see what they think. You can get an idea of their expectations and frustrations.
How to Provide Customer Service”
Training employees goes a long way to improving user experience. I recently had a situation where a poorly trained scheduling department created an undue amount of grief for me, because they gave me the wrong information for an important situation. I had to make more phone calls to get it resolved.
Actually read feedback you’re given and make assessing the feedback and implementing the most sensible of it one of your top priorities. If customers give feedback via customer service agents, make sure it’s fast-tracked and prioritized to those who can make it so, because according to Ruby Newell-Legner, in Understanding Customers, only 4% of dissatisfied customers will ever say anything, 96% will never say anything, and 91% of customers will never come back.
On the other hand, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, “On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.” Sometimes you can even even get a loyal customer out of a poor initial experience, if you handle it right.
Make sure your website actually works. The life insurance company I use redesigned their website, due to “feedback from our valued customers.” It’s a terrible experience. The information on the account page isn’t correct, some programming code is showing above and below their header, it keeps telling me they can’t access my account information, and if I click the link that says I want to talk to someone instead, it refreshes the same broken page. I’m pretty sure valued customers didn’t say to make bad design decisions so they could have an awful experience. And their phone support isn’t much better. I feel like apologizing to my executor.
Don’t forget, while your employees are getting paid for the time they spend figuring things out for potential and current customers, the latter two are not getting paid. Or they may be recovering from surgery. And they’re going to resent the heck out of you.
User Experience is Up to You
It’s incumbent upon you, the company, to provide the best user experience possible so you can be as successful as possible. Because happy people tend to return to do business with you again.
If you want a designer who understands user experience, contact me!
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