“A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s probably not that good.” Martin LeBlanc
It’s safe to say that user experience is one of the most critical areas for any business to get right. And it’s even more so for small companies that don’t have a lot of clients.
The smaller you are, the less you can afford to lose potential leads because of a cumbersome online process or a poor interaction in person. Losing customers or turning them off your business before they can even become customers can have a massive impact on your bottom line.
The good news is, you can always turn things around and make your user experience more positive at any point.
In fact, this is something that you should work on constantly, because there is always room to improve.
To give you a helping hand, we’ve delved into what makes for a good user experience and how you can improve what your business offers.
Map your Customer Touchpoints
The first step to improving your user experience is to understand how customers interact with your business. A map of every customer touchpoint will show you exactly how and where people come into contact with your business.
With that done, you can follow the route they take from their initial contact to their first purchase and beyond — or to where they turn away from your business.
This map will become your blueprint for the changes you need to make. You can also keep monitoring the map to see if your changes are improving the user experience.
There is nothing wrong with making tweaks and changes continually. However, it’s important to ensure that these changes always improve the way your customers interact with your brand.
Don’t simply make changes for the sake of trying something new.
5 Tips for Improving the User Experience
Now that you are able to see what touchpoints might be causing issues, you can start working through them to remove any friction.
1. Keep Things Simple
In most cases, less is more.
It’s easy to get focused on your own business needs. You want more data on your customers, so you add more fields to your forms. But asking for too much information at the wrong stage of the customer journey can cause a bad user experience.
The same holds true in the design of your website, your emails, packaging, and products.
It’s important to find the balance between giving the right information, ensuring everything speaks to your brand identity, and not overwhelming the customer.
Transparency is another element you should consider.
Adding in too much information or making things too busy can be confusing. It can also distract your visitors from seeing important information and taking action on it. Make sure that all critical information is easy to see and can’t be glossed over.
2. Remember the Human Element
When running your own small business, you’re usually covering every single aspect of operations yourself. This means that you are responsible for being the human face of the company, as well as tech support, salesperson, administrator, and so on.
It can be tempting to automate as much as possible in the customer journey in order to free up your time for other areas of the business.
Automation is great because it can work really well — when implemented correctly. However, you need to keep a close eye on it to ensure that your customers are happy.
You should also ensure that you step in as soon as there is a potential hiccup or to close the deal if necessary. That interaction with a real person instead of with a bot or AI can make all the difference.
3. Only Ask for Information Once
There is probably nothing more irritating for a customer than having to constantly fill in the same information or repeat their query again and again.
If you need to gather details from a customer or a potential customer, make sure you are only doing it once. Ensure that you can always access that information at each phase along the journey.
Don’t make the customer submit their complaint to a chatbot and then repeat the information to you when you take over the conversation. Don’t make them fill in their telephone number as authentication, and then make them fill it in again to complete a purchase.
Another big annoyance, especially in the online retail world, is logging into a website that then takes you away from the page you were viewing. It’s vital that a customer is taken to the next logical place when they log in.
If they are on a particular product page but need to log in before adding it to their cart, don’t take them to their profile dashboard or the homepage. Take them back to the product page after logging in.
If you think you’re falling foul of any of these criteria, update your site using a UX design tool that specifically allows you to view exactly how interactions and transitions will work online. Once you’re satisfied that you’ve streamlined the way you obtain information and that the customer journey is goal-oriented, make the necessary changes live.
4. Monitor Public Feedback
Everyone now has access to a public platform that allows them to make complaints or provide their opinion about a brand.
It’s important to keep an eye on what people are saying so that you can have a stake in controlling that narrative. There are social media like Facebook and Twitter, forums like Hello Peter, and online review platforms like Google. If you have a mobile app, you can also get reviews on the app stores.
It’s important to acknowledge all of your public mentions — the good and the bad.
In fact, the bad ones are the most important to acknowledge.
Turning a negative experience into a positive one is great PR and can gain you a loyal customer for life. These comments will also help you with working out where your sticking points are in the customer journey so that you can improve them.
5. Prioritize your Changes
When you are just one person, keeping track of all areas of your customer journey is tough. It’s also hard to get to all the changes you want to make.
Many business owners feel like they want to make all the changes immediately so that they can please all of their potential customers.
This is the road to failure.
You can’t please everyone all the time.
Instead, take a hard look at the customer journey and make calculated decisions about what to prioritize in terms of the user experience.
If there are some small changes you can make quickly, do those first. When it comes to the big changes, focus on what is going to have the biggest impact on your bottom line and get those changes done first.
It’s important to look at the facts and not at the customers or stakeholders who are shouting the loudest about their issues.
It may be tempting to fix that concern first because it’ll give you some quiet. However, if it isn’t going to be a big improvement to your business income, it’s not worth prioritizing.
Wrapping Up & Moving Forward
User experience is something that is an ever-changing ideal.
People are fickle, and the technology that you have based your business on is constantly advancing. This means that you have to continually pay attention to your customer journey and how these people interact with your brand.
Just remember the main elements of improving user experience:
- Create a customer map of how and where people interact with your brand.
- Keep your touchpoints simple and transparent so customers understand the important information.
- Ensure your business always has a human face that people can relate to.
- Don’t make things too complicated and never ask for the same information twice.
- Keep a close eye on what people are saying about your business online and interact with those people.
- Prioritize the areas of the user experience that make the biggest impact on the bottom line so that your business can flourish.
If you get these points right, your user experience will drive customers through the sales funnel, and potentially keep them coming back for more — or at least providing you with positive referrals.