Guide: DIY user experience for small business
User experience (UX) design has often been the domain of large corporations. However, Purple Shirt’s Steve Alexander believes that small businesses will benefit from taking matters into their own hands.
User experience (UX) design has often been the domain of large corporations. However, Steve Alexander from user experience consultancy Purple Shirt, believes that small businesses will benefit from taking matters into their own hands.
Here’re five things that you can do to improve your customer and operational experiences and get in front of the curve as the new normal sets in:
#1 Observe your customers using your digital services
If you run an online business or components of your customer facing experiences are online then you need to observe customers using your online services to understand, from a customer’s perspective, what’s working and what’s not. The most cost effective way to do this is to recruit friends and family who reflect your core customer base, set them tasks like booking an appointment, finding a product or requesting a callback, then observe them interacting with your digital experience.
When conducting research of this nature it’s important not to jump to conclusions, just because one person got stuck at check out doesn’t mean that all of your customers will get stuck at the same place. We work to a rule of thumb that between five and seven customer feedback sessions will identify up to 80 percent of your critical issues so it’s best to run multiple sessions with different participants before you commit to making any changes.
Pro-tip: The more objective you can be, the more you’ll get out of observing customers using your products. Try not to solve problems yourself that they encounter, instead, ask them “what would you do if I wasn’t here”. Give them permission to criticize, don’t ask leading questions and thank them for their time with a small gift of appreciation.
#2 Map your customers’ journey
Customer journey mapping is a tool that enables you to create a visualisation of your customer’s experience with your product or service (see first image below). It’s a process that breaks the experience into a set of phases and can provide an unparalleled level of insight into not only your customer’s experience but the inner workings of your business. When done correctly a customer journey map can provide a blueprint for the changes you need to make to improve the overall performance of your business.
Set aside a half day, break down the customer’s experience into a set of phases that are broadly representative of distinct activities that customers participate in. Don’t get too granular, roll smaller activities up into larger phases. Generally speaking you should have between five and ten distinct phases that you can easily identify. Once you’ve got your phases identified, list each of the activities that occur within each phase and the touchpoints customers interact with, the corresponding pain points, goals, opportunities. Once you’ve captured a customer’s view of the world overlay operational activities, pain points and opportunities. Ask yourself:
- What is the goal for my customer at this stage of the journey? E.g. Place an order with confidence with a definitive delivery date.
- What pain points are they experiencing? E.g. Knowing if a particular item is in stock.
- What opportunities exist to improve the customer or operational experience? E.g Staggered lunch breaks will improve customer to staff ratios over busier periods.
Pro-tip: Once you’ve defined the phases for your customer journey run through the pain points, opportunities and goals for the different customer types that you have. As an example if you have retail and trade customers their experiences may be very different so it’s worthwhile adopting different perspectives to learn more about your business.
#3 Exit interviews
If you run a retail, hospitality or services business you should consider conducting brief exit interviews as customers leave your store, cafe or restaurant. Write a short set of questions, no more than four or five, that broadly cover the end-to-end in-store experience. If there are areas of concern that you have already identified then use this as an opportunity to deep dive and build your understanding of the problem you need to solve. Avoid falling back onto traditional NPS type questions, leave them open ended and give customers the opportunity to make suggestions and remember this is a qualitative exercise not a quantitative one so avoid asking lots of data driven questions.
Some questions you could consider asking are:
- Overall how did you find your experience with us today?
- Were there any aspects of your experience that didn’t meet your expectations?
- If there was one thing you could change about your experience today what would it be?
If a participant mentions something of interest dig deeper use phrases like “I’m curious as to why . . . “ or “Could you help me understand . . . “
Pro-tip: Don’t conduct your exit interviews at the front counter or at the entrance to your store. Intercept customers as they leave and once they agree to participate take them off to the side so you’re out of earshot of other staff and customers. Keep it brief and to the point, if a customer appears to be hesitant let them off the hook. Avoid the temptation to sign them up to receive your newsletter, keep it anonymous to avoid unnecessary complexity.
#4 Segment your customers
Putting structure around how you group your customers can be one of the most effective ways to service their needs and foster a customer-centric culture in your organisation. At Purple Shirt we use a form of behavioural segmentation called customer types.
Customer types focus on communicating observed behaviours, opportunities, pain-points and frequent scenarios in which customers find themselves. Customer types differ from traditional personas in that the segmentation criteria are based on two behavioural continuums that are common across your customer base.
As an example a mountain bike park may segment their customer based on their technical proficiency (novice to expert) and their motivation for riding (fun to competition). When you build out these different customer types you end up with the following (see second image below).
Each customer type occupies a different quadrant of our matrix and each has different characteristics. If we take a deeper look at our Dabblers we can theorise that their key characteristics are that they have poor technical skills, are risk-averse, only use areas of the bike park with which they are familiar and experience frequent gear failure. By identifying these characteristics we can create new products, services and experiences to meet their needs.
Read more about customer types here
#5 Synthesise your social
If you’ve got social channels but aren’t actively analysing sentiment then a simple clustering exercise might be right for you. Clustering is a method we use when dealing with qualitative data sets.
The objective is to collect feedback and synthesise these into themes that you can act on. Get started by transcribing comments and posts on your products and services on to Post-its, cluster them e.g. group those that are or seem to be related. Once you’ve identified your clusters, name each cluster and write a simple description of that theme. If you’re feeling adventurous you can write an insight which is a statement which follows the basic format of “as a customer I need . . . because . . .”
Pro-tip: Use Post-it notes to transcribe your date as they are easy to move around and regroup. Also consider colour coding you post-its so positive feedback is green, negative feedback is red, ideas are yellow and customer needs or observations are blue.
Now more than ever it is important to build a comprehensive understanding of your customers, their needs and their behaviours and doing so doesn’t need to be overly time consuming or expensive. When harnessed correctly customer centricity can become a real source of competitive advantage and set your business apart from your competitors.
Purple Shirt is a leading research and user experience consultancy offering bespoke customer and product research services to New Zealand’s leading brands such as Air New Zealand, Jucy Group and Foodstuffs.