User research and user testing as part of the total experience
Usability is a powerful part of the user experience, that can either pave the way for an amazing product if it’s well implemented or derail it if it’s not. Usability is the ease with which a person can accomplish a given task with your product – and that’s what makes it essential.
There isn’t a simple set of tools that will suddenly make your product highly usable, but there are two key pieces of that puzzle: user research and user testing. They amplify the product team’s knowledge by testing a product’s concept, understanding if it successfully meets users’ needs and testing the ease and efficiency of the use of the product.
This article is part of a series focused on the importance of user experience research methods and the value of these methods in creating better and more complete experiences, and how they contribute to the total experience.
The total experience
The world and our experiences with products and services are more connected than ever. It’s important to adopt a holistic view of people’s experience with products or services as a whole, for companies to stay competitive in the market. In 2021, Gartner estimated that by 2024, organizations that deliver a total experience will outperform their competitors by 25% in customer experience and employee experience satisfaction metrics. To make sure these metrics increase in a positive direction, it’s also fundamental to consider how satisfactory and enjoyable the interaction with the interface of those products or services is. In other words, evaluating the user experience.
A total experience is where businesses compete by creating superior shared experiences by interlinking four dimensions: user experience, customer experience, multi-experience, and employee experience. The total experience is based on the thought that no experience should be approached individually because each of them impacts the others.
People’s perceptions and consciousness are affected by everything they see, do, and feel. If teams approach experiences collaboratively, it’s easier to work towards a better overall experience and sustainable competitive advantage.
Customer experience is the combination of all the interactions with a brand’s products and services as well as the impressions and feelings customers have of a brand or organization. It’s not only about having less friction and using a better user interface but also about having more channels and modalities to communicate with a business. Customer satisfaction and loyalty depend on how they interact with the digital product and non-digital touchpoints. The key to a great customer experience is to make the customer feel in control, regardless of the touchpoint they choose to use.
To truly improve the employee experience, it’s important to question the value employers are delivering to their employees. Making employees feel empowered and fulfilled in the work they do, will motivate them to deliver better work, and consequently, better customer experiences. Employees who feel empowered and happy with their overall experience are more engaged and loyal to the company and will be more efficient in their jobs. Ultimately a strong employee experience will have a positive impact not only on business results but also on customer satisfaction and on superior experiences for all.
It’s vital to create an intuitive, desirable, and effortless experience for both customers and employees and removing any friction points they might have when interacting with a user interface. Ongoing and relevant feedback through whichever touchpoint the customer or employee is using, needs to consider the context of the user. This allows the flow and interconnection of the user experience to improve the employees’ sense of empowerment and the quality of the customers’ experience.
An experience must be connected and delivered simultaneously across different touchpoints, devices, and relevant modalities (e.g., voice, gestures, no-touch). It’s important to consider which technologies are needed to guarantee that both customers and employees are frictionlessly connected and going through the best possible experience.
Total experience brings these four dimensions together under a single approach to make a better, holistic experience for everyone. By adopting a total experience strategy, businesses can more easily align teams that work on separate agendas and achieve overall better experiences that will stand out from the competitors. To transform your experience management strategy and gradually grow into a total experience approach, there is a set of principles and practices you can adopt.
Principles and practices to deliver a strong total experience
Creating a strong total experience is not the easiest task; it requires thinking and planning holistically and applying proper principles and practices. Emergn’s guiding principles and essential practices guide our work and help us guarantee that we are creating meaningful experiences for our clients and their customers.
These are the guiding principles and essential practices to apply when working for total experience:
- Optimize the flow of work end to end. Optimizing one element within the system, or even all the processes individually will never be as effective as optimizing the whole process. Instead of focusing on one audience or particular experience, find and connect the dots for all the audiences who play a role in or for an organization, no matter what their roles are (customer or employee).
- Encourage your product teams to explore, learn, and understand each experience from the total experience and how they work together, through experimentation.
- Research and define the value for both customers and employees and where these points intersect, to create superior shared experiences.
- Ensure visibility and access of employees to all relevant knowledge and information, for them to feel empowered and contribute in the best way to the customer experience. Visualizing the work helps create alignment, unity, and productivity.
- Discover quality with fast feedback. Establish feedback loops, in collaboration with the employees and customers throughout the process, to allow teams to identify issues in the experiences and spot early opportunities for improvement.
By adopting these principles and practices you can start gradually transforming your teams into more collaborative and productive creators of experiences that add value to your customer, but also to employees.
One way to start creating delightful experiences for all is to do some research and understand how the different individual experiences are going to impact a company’s strategic goals. This way, teams work on all the different dimensions of the total experience, aligning values and core goals, making people work together towards a better outcome and enhanced experiences for everyone.
At Emergn, we have put into practice these principles and we are able to acknowledge the real impact it has on our client’s offerings and competitive advantage.