by Lidia Balio | Mar 10, 2021 | Business Process, Customer Experience, Customer Personas, UX
If you’re not familiar with customer personas, you may be unaware of all the reasons your business needs customer personas. Customer personas are useful to many aspects of the business process, including selling, marketing, user experience, and customer experience. Below are four reasons why you should develop customer personas for your business if you haven’t done so already.
What Are Customer Personas?
Customer personas are profiles of individual customers that represent a key demographic of your customer base. They often include such information as:
- Brief Story
An Example Persona
Here’s an example persona for a route-planning app:
Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #1 Selling
The first reason you need customer personas for your business is selling. Not all customers are alike. Each different type of customer you’re trying to attract has different needs, wants, and frustrations you can help solve. In order to understand how to sell your product or service to each individual you encounter, you need to be able to quickly analyze who they are and what makes them tick.
Consider asking your sales leads questions like the following:
- What is your biggest frustration as a [specific type of person]?
- What is your greatest need right now as a [specific type of person]?
- What solutions have you tried in the past to solve your [specific problem]?
- Tell me a story about your average day when you are doing [a specific task].
Questions like these can help you understand how to cater your product or service to different customers so that you learn how to serve each individual that comes your way. Once you get enough answers to these questions, you can then group the answers into different categories and develop unique personas.
Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #2 Marketing
Of course, in order to sell your product or service to a customer, you must first reach them. Similar to the selling process, marketing is all about reaching specific groups of individuals. Whether you’re marketing over Facebook or on a local radio station, you need to make sure that you’re reaching the types of people who match your customer personas.
This is where digital marketing really shines, of course, because on platforms like social media you can target ads directly to key demographics and behaviors. With traditional advertising, you get put in a single channel with a large audience, but there’s no guarantee potential customers will ever really engage with your ad.
Regardless: knowing the four or five specific types of people you’re trying to reach can mean the difference between a successful marketing campaign and a big waste of money.
Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #3 User Experience
Another reason to develop customer persons is user experience, or how easy it is for customers to engage with your key touchpoints as a business. Rather than having a website, mobile presence, social media presence, etc. that is designed for everybody, in other words, you should design these touchpoints for specific people: your customers!
Developing personas can help you design each touchpoint to appeal to the specific types of people you’re trying to reach. This process should start at the level of search engine optimization and should extend throughout the look, feel, and features of each touchpoint. The more you know about your customers and their wants, needs, and frustrations, the more you will be able to tailor your touchpoints to engage them.
Of course, nothing beats usability testing with live users for optimizing your touchpoints for specific types of customers!
Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #4 Customer Experience
Finally, customer personas can help you refine the entire customer experience. If you think your customer experience–meaning the entire process a customer goes through from the moment they first engage with your business to the moment you earn their loyalty as a repeat customer–should work the same for every person, you’re wrong! The modern customer experience is all about personalization, about making every individual feel like your customer experience was built just for them.
How do you achieve this? By tailoring all the touchpoints of your customer experience to each individual persona. Sometimes, yes, this means having different campaigns for different types of customers, but many times it means making sure that the landing page you just developed doesn’t alienate your main customer types!
Regardless: you should be considering every touchpoint in your customers’ journey from their perspective. Understanding what motivates a specific type of person to engage with your business is key to understanding how to earn their business, and hopefully their loyalty, for life.
by Lidia Balio | Feb 24, 2021 | Customer Experience, Usability Testing, UX
Should I usability test my website? This is a question many business owners ask themselves at various points. If you offer products or services to customers through your website, the answer is a definite: “yes.” Below we’ll explain how usability testing all the technologies your company uses, including your website, can hugely benefit your customers, and ultimately your bottom line.
What Is Usability Testing?
In short, usability.gov defines usability testing as:
evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users.
So, usability testing is a way of exploring how useful a product or service is to your customers, in other words. Why do this?
When conducting usability testing, your goal is to assess usability, which Jakob Nielsen defines as:
Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.
Your business has a lot of touchpoints that customers use to purchase your product or service. These may include:
Usability testing can help you assess how easy all these touchpoints are to use. Can customers quickly and easily access and use each one in order to learn about your company, learn about your products and services, and make a purchase?
If you haven’t tested your company’s technologies, you can’t be sure what the answer to this question is. And if you aren’t sure how easy your technologies are to use, can you be sure they’re as easy to use as those of your competition?
And above all: your website is often the first thing that a potential client, customer, or user sees that represents your organization, who you are, and what you have to offer. Your website is also a gateway to help those people access the other technologies that your company offers, such as mobile apps, software, and other solutions.
Reason #1 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: Your Company’s Credibility
One of the primary reasons that you should consider usability testing your company’s technologies is the impact that poor usability can have on your company’s credibility.
In a recent survey that asked, “Would you buy from a company that has a poorly designed, hard to navigate, or outdated website?” a staggering 85.8% of respondents said no.
If an overwhelming number of prospective customers find your website off-putting and immediately leave your website for a competitor’s, the hope that those customers will ever purchase from you greatly diminishes. Doing a usability test of your company’s website can help you figure out what problems your current design layout or content poses, and where improvements can be made. Fixing these issues means more people will want to stay on your site and browse through the other products and services that you offer.
You not only improve the design and experience of people on your website, but improve your company’s credibility as well.
Reason #2 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: You Don’t Need That Many Test Users
One of the common misconceptions that stops a lot of companies from doing usability testing is the belief that you need to test with hundreds or thousands of people.
That is simply not the case!
In fact, in order to find a vast majority of the errors that your website may have, you only need to test with about 5 users, especially if you plan on conducting multiple tests. 5 users can help you find approximately 85% of usability problems facing your website, and if there are major problems that exist, fixing that 85% can drastically improve the usability of your website and the perception of potential clients and customers. If your company offers a wide range of products and services and thus has a very wide-ranging customer base, however, you may want to test about with 3-4 users per customer group.
Our only caution with testing is that in order for it to truly be successful you need to test with people outside of your company. As Craig Tomlin cautions, you want to avoid any bias you have in testing your own website. People that work for your company may already know where things are, how things work, and may give you “false positives” that things are working well on your website. If you test with people external to your site, with those people who are truly coming to your company in search of a product or service, you’ll get a much better understanding of what is working or not working.
Reason #3 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: Usability Testing Can Be Cost-Effective
Another misconception about usability testing is that it can be expensive to complete, even if you’re only testing 5 people. However, this is another misconception.
One of our favorite techniques in usability testing is what is referred to as Lean UX, a process meant for quick and efficient usability testing. Lean UX focuses on 3 main goals or stages:
If we focus on testing with small groups of users, and doing multiple tests, we can more quickly and efficiently gain insight into what is working or not working on our website. We take our design, get our test users, and test it, and then take what we learn and refine our design. Then we keep going through that process until we’re satisfied we’ve solved the problems with our design.
Going through this Lean UX cycle throughout the process of building or redesigning your website rather than at the end when it’s finished can help you spot a lot of problems or issues early on and can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in billable hours or potential lost revenue.
by Lidia Balio | Jan 27, 2021 | Customer Experience, Development, Strategy, UX
If you own a company that offers products and services using technology, whether that is via an e-commerce website, a mobile app, an enterprise application, or all three, you need a UX strategy for business growth. Why you might ask?
Let’s start by defining what a UX strategy is. According to Foolproof:
UX strategy is a long-term plan to align every customer touchpoint with your vision for user experience.
So, let’s break that down a bit: what are customer touchpoints? This refers to every way in which customers engage with your business. When a customer retweets you on Twitter, that is a touchpoint. When a customer requests a quote for a service via your company’s website, that is also a touchpoint.
This begs the question: what is a “vision for user experience?” According to Nielsen Norman Group:
“User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.
So, a UX strategy is essentially a plan for ensuring that all your customers have good experiences every time they engage with your company. And below are three reasons why you need a UX strategy for business growth.
Reason #1 Why You Need a UX Strategy for Business Growth: A Bad Experience Turns Customers Off
First off, a UX strategy can help improve the experiences customers have with your business’s touchpoints. The inverse is also true, however: when customers have a bad experience with a touchpoint, they will probably be less than thrilled. Think about it: what happens when a customer tries to get in touch with your company? Do they fill out a form on your website? Do they call you on the phone? Do they email you? If you’re like most companies, they probably do all three and more.
And then think: what happens after they contact you? Do they immediately get a response? Or do they have to wait for some amount of time? And what are they doing while they’re waiting? Are they doing nothing? Or are they shopping around with your competitors?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then you don’t know what your customer’s experience of these touchpoints is. And these are just three touchpoints! You need to ensure that your customers are having a positive, engaging experience with every touchpoint. Otherwise, they might not engage again.
Reason #2 Why You Need a UX Strategy for Business Growth: As You Grow, You Will Have More Customer Touchpoints
Another reason you need a UX strategy is: if you’re a large company, you might have dozens of touchpoints. Many business owners can relate to starting out with only a few touchpoints, or even one. Many of us remember cold calling potential customers for days, weeks, or even months in order to build a customer base. Or emailing them. Or messaging them on LinkedIn.
But as your company grows, so will your touchpoints. If you’re a company with over fifty employees, you probably have many touchpoints. If you’re a company with five hundred employees or more you may have hundreds of them.
And as your touchpoints grow, the experiences customers have with each one will likely vary unless you have a strategy for ensuring each experience is a quality one. Using the above example, the touchpoints customers use to contact you: do you have a plan for ensuring that each and every touchpoint results in a positive experience for each and every customer?
Let’s drill down even further to one channel: contact forms on websites. Do you have one or do you have several? What experience does a customer have when filling out each contact form? Does it make sense, given what they’re asking about? Do you have a separate form for each product or service you offer or a large, general-purpose one? The experience a customer has at a touchpoint as simple as this can mean the difference between a customer hitting submit or not on that form.
On the other side, you may have much more complex touchpoints like email newsletters that send automatic responses based on customer behavior on your website. Existing customers may get very different types of information than prospective customers. And: what happens at each point in this chain? If you don’t know the exact answer to that question, if you don’t have data to back up your assumptions, then you can’t be sure that each and every touchpoint is working for each and every customer.
Reason #3 Why You Need a UX Strategy for Business Growth: Many of Us Are Building Technologies to Support Our Business Bottom-Line
The third reason you need a UX strategy is that, like it or not, many of us are building technologies to support our business, whether we are in a technology-related field or not. Organizations in industries from education to sports to manufacturing are requiring more and more technologies to support their business operations. These technologies may include:
- IT infrastructure: servers, cloud technologies, computers, networks, hardware, software
- Customer-facing business applications: websites, mobile apps, enterprise applications, social media channels, email marketing channels, support forums
- E-commerce: online sales, revenue tracking, multichannel e-commerce across existing channels
- IT monitoring: systems that track your other tools to ensure they’re in constant operation
- Email and collaboration tools: email accounts that work across your business operation, tools and resources that your employees use for all form of collaboration
Not all of these technologies are customer-facing, but many are. And many are very complex and bundle a lot of customer touchpoints into one place, like your company website. Your company website may be viewed on hundreds of different types of devices, from large desktop displays to small smartphone displays that are several years behind the current technology. Are you certain that customers on every type of device can navigate, use, and find information on your website?
Add e-commerce to this mix and you have even more touchpoints from adding items to a cart to checking out to follow-up communications after an order is placed. Are you sure that every one of these interactions leads to a seamless, positive experience for your customers? Have you asked them? Have you tested each touchpoint?
If this article is causing you anxiety, then you might want to engage someone with experience in UX strategy to ensure all your touchpoints are serving your business. This is the purpose of UX strategy, after all: to fuel business growth through effective planning.
by Lidia Balio | Jan 20, 2021 | Customer Experience, Development, DevOps, IT, Operations
If you’re here to learn about DevOps benefits for business, you’ve come to the right place. As a company or organization that is continuously evolving, adding content and services, or implementing new technologies, it’s important to have an understanding of DevOps and what it can do for your company. However, before you get started in understanding exactly what you need to be doing, or what you expect from DevOps, it’s important to know what DevOps really means. Not only that, but we also discuss some of the major benefits of adopting a DevOps philosophy at your company.
What is DevOps?
The term DevOps actually comes from two different sides or focal points of a company: Development and Operations. But aside from being a simple combination of two different words, DevOps is so much more than that.
As Gartner defines DevOps:
DevOps represents a change in IT culture, focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile, lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach. DevOps emphasizes people (and culture), and seeks to improve collaboration between operations and development teams. DevOps implementations utilize technology— especially automation tools that can leverage an increasingly programmable and dynamic infrastructure from a life cycle perspective.
DevOps has increasingly become a philosophy that a company should implement in order to improve communication and collaboration across teams that may have otherwise been siloed or have been working mostly independently of one another.
How Can DevOps Benefit your Company?
Many large tech companies such as Amazon and Atlassian have started to promote the power of DevOps philosophies in their work structure and how it has helped them create better products and services. So, how can DevOps benefit your company? Below are just some of the important benefits DevOps can create.
DevOps Benefit for Business #1: Increased Communication and Collaboration
The first major benefit of implementing DevOps is increased communication and collaboration in your company. What makes this improvement so important is how it changes the mindset of the various departments in your company. Communicating more often across department lines and focusing more on working together can help your teams focus less on department-specific goals, and spend more time focusing on company goals and how they can contribute to them. The more that employees work together across departments, the more likely they are to see the value in each other’s skill sets and how they impact the final product or service. Increased communication and collaboration also fosters innovation and ideation across the company as more opinions and thoughts are shared with more people.
DevOps Benefit for Business #2: Speed and Efficiency
The second major benefit of a DevOps philosophy is increased efficiency and speed in the work that your employees do. Due to the collaborative nature of DevOps, development cycles can be shortened, which means quicker deployment of systems, services, and products to the customer. DevOps can also help you do continuous service delivery for everything that your company has to offer, which is becoming essential in almost every industry. People want products and services that provide instantaneous support, updates, and upgrades.
DevOps Benefit for Business #3: Better Customer Experience
If your teams are communicating better, working together better, and the products you offer are getting delivered faster, you are also delivering a better customer experience. The customer experience no longer ends at the time of purchase. Consumers want support. They want help utilizing products and services. They want to make sure they’re buying the best product or service to meet their needs. And if they begin to doubt any of these things, they will look elsewhere the next time they decide to buy.
It is easy to lose sight of one or more elements of the customer experience. With multiple departments in the same company (production, marketing, sales, logistics, support, etc.) it is easy for wires to get crossed. It is easy for individual customers to fall through the cracks.
By increasing communication, collaboration, and development, DevOps can help your company ensure that every customer gets their needs met. It can improve customer satisfaction and customer retention.
If all of this piques your interest or you’re looking to implement a DevOps philosophy in your company, reach out to us at YetOpen and we can help you get started!