We Live In a User-Driven World: It’s Time to Adapt

May 8, 2013

9:00 am

From the moment you walk in the door at work in the morning, to the moment you switch off start ignoring your iPhone at night, your mind should be on one thing – your customers.

If your mind is on anything other than your users when making business decisions, it’s likely because you are operating using a narrow definition of “product.”

Ben Yoskovitz, VP Product at GoInstant, put it well:

“My definition of ‘product’ is broader than most. I think of product as everything and anything a company outputs that touches customers. Your product isn’t just the physical item you deliver to customers, or the software that your customers use. It’s the entire experience your customers have with your company.

When businesses don’t operate using this holistic definition of product, the customer and business (read: your bottom line) will both end up suffering. Your thoughts, actions, and decisions should revolve around user engagement, solving customer problems, and creating the best possible user experience on every level.

Your Business “Sucks.” Your Business Lies.

Back in 2005, Buzzfeed blogger Jeff Jarvis had a terrible experience with Dell. He had all kinds of trouble with the hardware: it overheated, the network didn’t work, he maxed out on CPU usage. “It’s a lemon!” Ending the post with “DELL SUCKS. DELL LIES. Put that in your Google and smoke it, Dell,” garnered over 100 comments.

It didn’t end there.

The next month, Jeff took his war to the pages of the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

In his column, he makes a point that every business needs to remember:

“This is a story of customer relations in the new age – an age when, to quote blogger and Cluetrain Manifesto co-author Doc Searls, ‘“consumer” is an industrial-age word, a broadcast-age word. It implies that we are all tied to our chairs, head back, eating “content” and crapping cash.’ Now consumers don’t just consume. We spit back. We have our own printing presses.”

Users are empowered. Users have platforms. And you better believe that users will share both good and bad experiences.

While this example serves as a warning of what can go really wrong, let’s take a look at some of the major benefits of putting your user at the center of your business’s decision-making:

  • You’ll get more customers because people tell their friends if they have an awesome experience with a brand.
  • You will be able to differentiate on more than just price.
  • You will learn more quickly and gain deeper insights because you’re listening better to your users, and they are more willing to give you honest feedback.
  • People will be more likely to forgive and forget when you do – inevitably – screw up.
  • You will have the great satisfaction of serving others.

So how do you do it? Here are three specific things to do in the quest for happy users:

1. Make your users feel seen and heard

Humans crave understanding and acceptance. So it’s no wonder that we gravitate towards brands and products that make us feel as though they understand us.

Personalization has become so readily accessible that we expect to be able to customize nearly everything we touch or do. More and more, it’s what we demand when we are interacting with a brand.

Meeting this growing demand isn’t as complicated as it sounds. A great way to get started is by offering personalized content to your customers as they move from prospects, to customers, and, hopefully, to full-fledged brand ambassadors.

2. Solve real problems at the speed of light

Paul Graham, one of the founders of Y Combinator, wisely said, “If you make something users want, you’ll probably be fine, whatever else you do or don’t do. And if you don’t make something users want, then you’re dead, whatever else you do or don’t do.”

What’s the easiest way to make something users want? You solve a problem they are faced with, and you solve that problem as quickly and easily as possible. A quick, clean solution to a problem is the surest way to convert and an even better way to make sure people discuss your product or service with their friends and co-workers.

3. Remember that you’re dealing with human beings

You cannot mistake user experience for human engagement. Michael Shragge, writing for the HBR blog, argues, “Engagement is how people choose to get value from the user experiences their devices enable. Engagement represents the purposeful choices users make to get what they want. Engagement is smack at the intersection of commanding attention and taking action.”

Unless you are devoting as much time to using emotion to generate human engagement with your product as you do to considering and planning user experience, your overall user experience will suffer.

What elements of customer experience are the most important to you? How much personalization do you demand from brands?

Guest author Karl Wirth is the CEO & Co-Founder of Evergage. He is passionate about helping businesses improve their conversion through relevant, in-context communication. See for yourself and sign up to Evergage today!

Related reading: “What’s the Future of Business?” by Brian Solis 

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