You’ve all heard the cliché: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. You’d think the horse would drink if it’s thirsty enough, but that’s not up to you.
At times, when we have talked to companies about user experience research, I’ve felt a bit like that. We can give them all kinds of insight, but we can’t make them take specific action steps with it. They want you to just get the research done, but then you have to present it to them the right way so they know what to do with it.
Often a client stakeholder will start you off by saying, “Hey, you’re the researcher, just do your thing!” First off, in order for us to start doing our thing, we need information. We need a benchmark. We need to know why we’re doing it. Otherwise, we can’t get to the insights that will tell both us and them what really needs to happen with the information.
That’s a shame because the power of UX research is often in the unexpected benefits. It’s not just the raw data you will see on the report. It’s also what comes out of it – if you know how to take advantage of it.
A Customer For Life
A customer who buys your product or downloads your app just once is still a customer nonetheless. Yet we all know that long-term success comes when customers blossom into full-on relationships.
Can UX research make that happen? Of course it can.
Ensuring that a customer’s initial experience is a positive one is crucial to building a meaningful relationship with them. When customers like the experience you provide them, they want more of it. So, the next time you launch a new offering or even an update, the first people to jump on it will be the ones who had a great experience the first time around.
Continued UX research gives you the insight to ensure customers will have that experience — assuming you heed the recommendations that come along with it.
If You Believe in the Word of Mouth . . .
In today’s world, when people have an awesome experience, they tell other people — their friends, their families, their online connections. They do it on social media. They do it in the office. They do it over coffee.
What’s more, because of today’s technology, they often share their positive experiences with a link and urge others not to miss out.
When UX research delivers insight into a customer’s desires, and then is used to fulfill and satisfy those desires, the result will probably be more than just a repeat customer. It will also be an army of enthusiastic ambassadors who are happy to tell everyone they know about the experience they had with your product.
The Way to Tell the Story
When users describe a product or service during the UX research process, they reveal gems that marketers and content writers can turn into solid gold. What words did they use to explain what their experience was like? What feelings did they express to describe how they related to the product?
Content writers are always looking for the right descriptive words to connect to readers. When writing about a product or service, it’s critical to use words that are strong and descriptive without being so over-the-top that they compromise the credibility of the message. The most effective way to engage users at the level of their desires and impressions is to use the words they use.
The feedback that comes through UX research can provide hints for marketers and content writers to understand exactly how to talk about a product or service.
Here to Help — And Ready to Respond
A customer service tech’s utmost goal is to help users, and the best way to do that is to be prepared for the likely issues that will come before them. UX research can provide crucial hints.
UX research isn’t just about what customers like. When users have the opportunity to express what they don’t like – what frustrates them, what bugs them, what they have trouble figuring out — you can get to work to ensure your support team is armed to address those issues by way of making improvements to the experience, offering FAQs, and providing training materials. That can lead to quicker and more effective customer service and happier, more satisfied, and more loyal customers.
Insight For the Next Foray
When customers tell you what they like and don’t like about one product, they’re also telling you what they like and don’t like in general. Product development teams can then use that insight not only to perfect the product-of-the-day, but also to test ideas and drive concepts for future products and revisions. Once customer attitudes are recognized from one round of UX research, they’re valuable forever – if you remember to keep making use of them.
The same is true for sales teams and others involved in bringing products from concept to market. Sometimes the most effective repurposing is driven by the results of UX research that were already in hand.
Bringing It All Together
Too many corporate teams operate in silos. Product development is separate from sales, which doesn’t talk to customer service, which rarely interacts with marketing. One thing that can bridge these gaps and bring down these silo walls is the availability of common information that can benefit everyone.
When all departments come together to review the results of UX research, and each share what it means to them, the company operates more as a cohesive unit. Everyone is working from the same foundation.
These are all amazing benefits that can only be enjoyed when organizations act on the recommendations that come from UX research. When we constantly remind our clients of this, we ultimately put them in a position to reap not only the predictable benefits of UX research, but also the unexpected ones. Otherwise, we’re just standing there waiting for that horse to get thirsty.