Why your business will fail
I wrote in one of my articles here (http://bit.ly/2mbanSg) why user research is vital to the success of any business, and it sometimes baffles me how little attention is paid to finding out what your users are looking for. Surely, I am not the only one who wrote about the subject, and businesses everywhere have a wealth of information about how to approach their product or service design with the customer’s needs in mind.
From personal experience, one of the worst examples of service design was provided by an internationally known business which provides broadband and entertainment services. While the connection speed, choice of things to watch and the price packages are tolerable, the way the business handles user feedback is extremely poor.
It is next to impossible to find anything useful on the website, the customer service team is untrained and is not qualified to provide any real solutions, and every time you have the misfortune to speak to their customer “support” representatives, you usually don’t get any support. Instead, you are bounced around their entire infrastructure, sometimes talking to people who have nothing to do with your problem, and actually asking you why the previous person redirected your call to them! On top of that, you have to repeat your story (yes, including your personal details and answers to the security questions we are all so fond of) every time you are speaking to a new person.
The Other Problem
At the end of last year I actually had the “privilege” of working for the company described above. The business was finally trying to address the issues related to their information architecture (where things are) and personalised content delivery (who sees these things).
The intention was definitely worthy of a praise because the end-product would be an awesome entity that would be easy to navigate through, reduce the number of calls the customer team would have to process, and only deliver content you would be interested in, instead of throwing everything at you.
The team working on this mega-project was full of highly qualified professionals who knew the industry and the business inside out. The designers created visuals that were out of this world. I put in solid shifts conducting user research, presenting data to all stakeholders and designing all of the interactions and site structure. The latest season of Game of Thrones was over. Conditions were perfect.
However, as soon as we started the project, we found out that most people involved had to juggle their other projects, and what started out as the most important piece of work became almost a put-it-on-a-backburner kind of thing.
This is the other aspect of a successful business: having all the user research data in the world will not help your business if you don’t have the right team to work on your projects.
I do not doubt the professionalism or the attitude of the people I worked with on this project, I got to see exactly what they are capable of, and I feel it would be unfair to blame them for the problems we encountered.
Although we all tried our hardest to be available for the gazillion meetings and catch-ups, I was the only person who was actually working solely on this project. Everyone else had to find 15 minutes here and there to have a quick catch-up with each other about the progress.
If business is striving for success (as I am sure all businesses do), the teams have to be set up in a way that doesn’t affect other projects, people simply must have the time and skills to deliver.
As a user experience designer and consultant, it is easy for me to demand time and resources to “design everything properly”, but you never have the luxury of working in a vacuum, and have to consider external factors like team availability, their knowledge gaps and how to approach and inspire them to go above and beyond, so they actually want to see things from the user’s standpoint, and deliver something they will be proud of.
If these conditions are not met, it is very likely that the business will fail or require significant resources to steady the ship when the competitors pick up on the latest trends and user requirements and start approaching their product and service design the right way.
About the author
Aziz Hamra is the founder of Webwoods Digital and a UX designer with several years of working for international clients like Virgin Money, LinkedIn and Netflix.