user experience

Often times when web design agencies or marketing agencies discuss “user experience” they are discussing the experience of your visitors on your website. But this isn’t where user experience ends. To truly have your visitors getting the most out of their experience with you as a company, you need to start looking at how each visitor, lead, and customer interacts with your business throughout their process. So let’s discuss user experience throughout the complete marketing and sales cycles.

The stages of the inbound cycle are: Attract, Convert, Delight, and Analyze. In each of these stages we need to assess the user’s experience and how we can make improvements.

User Experience in the “Attract” Stage

This stage is often attributed to the website’s user experience, but it can also be taken into your other marketing channels as well. For example, if someone finds your business via social media are you presenting the best face that you can? Are you giving your social media visitors a glimpse into your knowledge and creating content that’s shareable, or even readable? Additionally, are they getting a similar brand experience when they see you on Facebook versus Twitter or other social media channels?

If you do a lot of off line marketing the same principal of brand alignment holds true. It shouldn’t look like a totally different company offline as it does online. Having done trade shows, networking events, and other offline methods, I know first-hand the importance of giving the best experience in-person is of utmost importance.

No matter how you’re meeting people, or attempting to attract them to your company, the most important thing is that they get the best user experience possible. If you’ve ever been bridal dress shopping you know what this experience is like. From the moment you walk in, you’re treated as though you were shopping at a high end fashion retailer. They try to give you the royal experience, regardless of your budget.

Bridal stores, at least the good ones, know that this is usually (well about 50%) a one-time expense. You have to make the best impression off the bat to get them to come back and move to the next stage.

User Experience in the “Convert” Stage

What is your sales process like? How fast do you pick up the phone or respond to an email? When you’re working an opportunity through the sales process, or even just getting them into the sales process, user experience needs to be taken up a notch. No matter if you’re a bargain brand or luxury, creating the optimal user experience is of utmost importance.

An example where this has perhaps not been the case let’s look at JC Penney. If you’ve been into a store in your life, you know that you tend to get treated the same way as if you were at a Walmart or Kmart. The workers are busy, doing their job and not actively looking to help customers. This is fine if you’re spending $20 on a pair of jeans. I feel like the user experience of Walmart meets my expectations.

What is different about JCP or Macy’s is that you’re usually spending 2-3x the amount of money on clothes and getting a very similar user experience. If you compare that to going to a Brooks Brothers store or to Saks, where the cost is again 2-3x that of JCP, you get a totally different shopping experience.

I’m not saying that JC Penney needs to have the same level of service as Saks, but there needs to be a cost to service ratio that’s higher. It would still be stepping it up, and creating an optimal user experience without having to incur higher costs of labor.

Find out where your brand is, then discover the user experience of your competitors, then take it up a notch. If you’re giving the best service for your marketplace it’s going to show in your closing rates, and in the next step.

User Experience in the “Delight” Stage

You’ve gotten the lead to convert to a sale, now how do you make them to become brand evangelists for you? The answer is obvious but not always easy. Delighting your customer in their user experience after you’ve sold them is often the most difficult. There’s a quote from the show Mad Men that expresses this. Don says, “the day you sign the client is the day you start losing the client.”

It’s easy to say you’re the best at something, to tell your customers it’s going to be different when they’re working with you. It’s entirely a different thing to actually do that. Once you start working with them their behavior becomes part of the variables that lead them to leave their last vendor. Additionally, things come up and when it’s your work on the line, it can have an effect on how they perceive you.

Giving the best service, being as responsive in your support communication as you were in your sales communication can go a long way in keeping that client happy and having them spread the word to their network.

Ford Motor Company does a great job of this with their Lincoln brand. It doesn’t matter the age of it, they treat your ownership of their brand as though you bought it new off the lot from them. Most dealerships offer special waiting rooms for Lincoln owners, perks as you wait, and treat you as a VIP every time you visit. They know that doing this will create more brand loyalty to their flagship brand than if they didn’t.

So you need to ask, what is the actual benefit of working with you over your competitor? If it is great service, prove it. Find out what their service was like, and improve on it. If you get negative feedback from you customers don’t assume it’s that they’re a picky client. Learn from what they say and improve on your delighting user experience.

The Human Element of User Experience

Like I said in the beginning, website designers and marketers tend to look at user experience as the interaction with your company’s website and marketing materials. What’s your bounce rate, open rates, click-through rates, etc? But there’s a human element to user experience that you can easily control without having to redesign anything.

Each member of your team is a contributing factor in your business’ user experience success. They can help your business grow or stay stagnant by how they interact with every potential customer or existing customer. This used to be called customer service, and it still is. But it carries over into everything from sales and marketing, to how you word your invoices and past due notices. Every time you as a company have a touch point with another human outside your organization you’re contributing to the user experience of that person and the ultimate success of your business.

Published 06/12/17 by Ian Wilson