Tech CEOs: There’s More to User Experience than Just the Interface

For users of technology products, user experience neither begins nor ends at the interface.  Users will judge the value of your product based on a variety of factors that surround the ecosystem of your product.  The good news is that you control all of them.  Therefore, you have many opportunities to enhance their experience beyond the interface.  Each of the following eight areas affect the user experience:

  1. Marketing Content – Sales consultant Jill Konrath reminds us that your prospect is over 60% of the way through their sales process before they contact your company.  This means they’ve already researched your product, your company, your competition and may have already spoken to your customers.  Does your current content support your value proposition during this phase, or does it sabotage it?
  2. Sales Process – Are your sales reps in tune with the way today’s buyers buy?  Are they process-driven?  Do they value the discovery process, or do they “show up and throw up,” with endless demos, feature speak and inwardly focused messaging?  Do they document and feedback the problems of their prospects to ensure understanding? Do they align your product’s capabilities to the solutions to those problems?
  3. Professional Services/Onboarding  – Do you have a formalized, metric-driven onboarding process lead by highly skilled implementation pros?  Are you constantly measuring the efficiency with which they onboard clients to ensure each client’s early experience in your environment is a great one?  Do you encourage (demand) training and professional development for implementation reps so they can constantly improve?  Do you hold leaders accountable for new user success?
  4. Technical Support – Is your technical support team optimized?  Are they rewarded and recognized based on the outcomes that most affect client satisfaction and user experience?  Speed to answer, time on the phone, # calls handled are all solid measures, but they don’t necessarily speak to enhanced user experience.  Review your help desk metrics and make sure they are designed to drive user satisfaction
  5. User Documentation – Increasingly, users want to self-serve.  Trends indicate they want to explore solutions on their own and try and solve problems without speaking or chatting with your reps.  That’s good news – as long as your content is up to the task.  Review all of your user content for completeness and accessibility.  Don’t get caught believing you have to create all of this content yourself.  Curate information from outside sources that can help users self-serve.  Develop an interface that makes accessing and consuming self-serve content easy.
  6. Platform – Is your solution part of a larger platform that allows users to stay put within a single environment while accessing other services?  Do you integrate with other systems via single-sign-on?  Do you participate in industry data standardization protocols?  Consider doing so in order to establish your solution as a hub they have no reason to exit.
  7. Consulting – Do you offer consulting services through which users can expand the value of your solution?  How often do you lament that fact that users only realize a small portion of the total value of your product?  This often happens because they simply aren’t aware of the full value. A strong consulting team can help users apply your product to a wider variety of challenges thus increasing your value and enhancing users’ overall experience.
  8. Industry Thought Leadership – Are you consistently providing users with an opportunity to learn more about their business, seek counsel from your other clients and gain insight into your road map and vision? Consider conducting frequent seminars, webinars and conferences where clients and prospects can meet and exchange ideas.  Develop symposia in which you go onsite to client locations and host an information sharing session focused on an building awareness of your solution beyond your core user (i.e., look for ways other users within the same company can begin using your product).

A key value of enhancing the user experience beyond the interface is to guard against losing business to a pretty face, i.e., if a competitor steps up his game from an interface perspective, you still have many more variables in your favor to win the business while your development team enhances your product’s look and feel.  Identify opportunities in each of the eight areas above and enhance the user experience beyond the interface.

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