More and more, we hear questions from CX professionals about the role UX research plays in the broader customer experience. Here are some of the ways we’ve seen UX research answer and solve everyday CX questions and scenarios.
Customer experience isn’t improving in the eyes of the people you’re trying to reach. Recent research from Capgemini shows that 75% of companies think they’re customer-centric, but only 30% of consumers agree. This leaves a clear and significant gap where we’re not meeting user needs. People have high expectations of the products they use, and as more products and experiences become mainstream, those expectations continue to evolve and increase. It’s not that companies aren’t customer-centric; it’s that they’re not using all the tools available to them. A tool that’s often overlooked is user experience research, even though it can pay huge dividends.
User experience research allows you to gain a deep understanding of your customers, discover market opportunities for your brand, and create experiences that truly solve a customer need. Over the past 15 years, our team has uncovered many ways you can utilize user experience research at every step of the product development lifecycle and throughout your brand experience to truly meet and surpass your users’ expectations.
UX research can help you shape your strategy and collective vision for your products, understand your audience and their needs, and make informed decisions throughout the development cycle. Not only that, but early testing can avoid costly changes after launch, and more importantly, prevent a bad user experience that can damage your brand reputation.
What questions can UX research answer?
UX research can help you answer questions at every stage of design and development. Whether you’re deciding what product or feature to build next or measuring the impact of a product that’s already launched, UX research has a part to play.
If you’re trying to figure out what to build, you might ask:
Who are our users?
What do they need?
What should we build?
If you already have concepts or designs and want to test them with users, research can help you answer:
How do we design it?
Can people use it?
Do people want this?
How do we improve it?
Once your experience is already out in the world and you need to measure its impact, use UX research to understand:
Are there showstoppers?
Did we have an impact?
Are we keeping up with our competition?
What do we do next?
Here are a few ways we’ve seen UX research help our clients with everyday CX scenarios:
Uncover user insights at every step of the development process
Brands that deliver great user experiences learn about their users at every stage of the development cycle. This is why creating foundational, ongoing programs of research can take your design process to the next level. Before building anything, conduct early-stage exploratory research or concept testing to discover user needs, pain points, and values. This critical contextual research can help you understand your users in a new and deeper way and discover new opportunities for your product to deliver on their expectations. Throughout development, test prototypes and concepts as you build them, and after launch, validate that your product or service is meeting expectations.
Identify and prioritize experiences that matter
There are endless things to improve when it comes to your customer experience. Resources are always limited, so how do you prioritize the one that’s going to move the needle the most? We’ve heard some refer to this as the X1, or the one moment or experience that is critical to the customer. In short, if your brand doesn’t deliver on this experience, then the rest of the journey doesn’t matter. It’s easy to make assumptions about what this critical moment might be, but to really discover what your users think, start with research! Talking to your users about what they’re trying to accomplish and observing how they use products provides an understanding of goals and priorities that can help you identify your X1.
Understand and address decreasing brand loyalty
People’s expectations are constantly evolving based on their experience with other products and services. As customers come across other products, they will switch to whatever offers them the best experience. That’s why you have to know how and where they are setting their expectations for your products and services. If you know users’ reactions to competitors’ digital offerings, you can improve your own. Benchmarking can help you uncover customers’ perceptions about you and your competitors and give you a northern star to work towards. It can even help you benchmark against yourself to set goals for future development and make sure you’re meeting user expectations further down the process.
Avoid costly fixes and damages to your brand reputation
It costs dramatically more to fix problems after your product is live than it does to incorporate customer feedback early in the process. If you start UX research right before your launch, you’ll be too late in the development cycle to make substantial changes. And the customer experience detractors you find at a later stage may result in lost conversion opportunities or expensive fixes. Instead, start at the beginning, test early designs and prototypes, and ask your users for feedback at every step.