How much do you think about your customer's user experience?
With more happening online and via digital tools, no retailer or business person can ignore what goes into customer interactions, and whether those are successful - for customers and for the business. After all, how intuitive your online interface is reflects on how thoughtful your business is. The more seamless the user experience, the more likely your customer is to be loyal and recommend your products to others.
[As a refresher, be sure to read about Inbound Marketing and ZMOT: Perfect Together? It details how much research and exploration happens before a buying decision takes place, and how much of that happens online.]
To make my point, I'll share with you the user experience that my Dad and I had using Quicken.
For perspective, my Dad has been using Quicken since the late 90s. He convinced me to adopt it shortly thereafter. He talked me into using TurboTax, too. I now use QuickBooks for business as well as Quicken and TurboTax. In other words, we are knowledgeable users.
Over the past two years, my Dad and I have become even tighter Quicken accomplices. We regularly work side-by-side grappling with questions and inconsistencies. I've observed how he interacts with the software and where his user experience fails.
Although a quick reaction might be to blame his age, the more thoughtful conclusion is that more could be done with Quicken's user experience to simplify it.
Perhaps the same is true for yours.
Here are some specifics.
Quicken User Visibility
Although I've been able to increase the Quicken register font size, menu options aren't affected. They remain difficult to read and small in comparison to the register information. Each dropdown menu is packed with choices, too, making it difficult to digest all that's there.
When you design your visuals, make sure they are visible. Is your lighting adequate instore? Is the contrast clean and clear? Is there the opportunity to easily enlarge the font? Don't assume everyone has 18-year old eyes.
Quicken User Simplicity
Quicken does a lot of things really well. What it hasn't done is create an Apple user experience which delights because of simplicity. The program offers many options, some of which seem to pop up out of nowhere and become impossible to remove. Each new update creates new user challenges for figuring out how to do normal transactions, using once tried and true steps or icons. [For that matter, the file backup process and the installation of updates could be simpler!]
When you design your user experience, are you thinking about how to simplify steps and explain complexity? Are you consistent over time? Do you provide friendly guidance on how users can evolve as you evolve?
Quicken User Failsafes
Given the important role that Quicken plays in managing personal finances, wouldn't it be wonderful if it helped prevent user mishaps?
For example, what if it helped eliminate or reduce typos in frequently used check entries? That would help my Dad. What if categories were more rigid? I'm now manually removing dozens of inaccurate categories he created.
I wish the online transactions reconciliation process were more intuitive. To make corrections, the user must exit, manually make the correction, then return. Not always easy to do. The default automatically generates balance adjustments which don't help reconcile results.
When you think about your user experience, have you exposed yourself to all of the steps customers might? Have you addressed potential mishaps?
I believe strongly in walking in your customer's shoes. There's nothing as powerful as trying to imagine and be on the receiving end of your own customer experience to identify improvements and innovations. Unless you can provide value and meaning, the fanciest tool in the world is useless. Only by experiencing what others do can you simplify the steps and discover solutions and improvements.
All of this is becoming increasingly important.
Our population is ageing. Yet, this ageing population retains significant purchasing power. How can we provide greater benefit and an easier user experience?
Our population uses products in ways we may not have anticipated. How do we keep an open mind?
Our entire population faces an onslaught of information, interruption, choices and chaos. When making purchase decisions, do you think complexity will win? Or rather the simple, effective user experience?
Think about what you do to and for your customers when they come to your store, showroom or office. How easy are you to deal with? If they call you, how friendly and helpful is your greeting? If they come to you online, will they want to experience more of you given their user experience?
It all flows together for your customers. Imagine fully understanding their user experience, what do you think might happen?
Are you ready?
Consider reading How To Create a Home Page That Connects With Customers: 3 Guidelines which recaps HubSpot's Josh Porter's presentation about simplicity in Home Page design.