Last week I was delighted to be invited to my very first New Media Age live event, Putting the customer at the heart of the business at The May Fair Hotel in London. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event which taught me a lot about user experience.
The speakers were: Mariana Da Silva; Martin Eriksson; Craig Sullivan; Peter Ballard and James Box.
Here’s the first in a series of blog posts on the conference.
What’s the difference between usability and user experience?
The first speaker of the day was the lovely Mariana Da Silva (head of gaming – user experience at Foviance). Mariana started off by explaining what the difference is between usability and user experience:
The usability of a product is simply whether it allows you to practically achieve your tasks. The user experience describes the totality of the experience. This includes the psychological not just the physical.
Mariana’s example of this was the Apple iPod. In terms of usability the product is functional and performs as a mp3 player but the customer experience of the product includes the hardware plus the iTunes software, the packaging as well as the status the object affords. In the same way that she explained Starbucks is so much more than a bag of coffee beans (although that’s essentially what it boils down to).
I suppose the same is true if you consider the website Mashable for example. You have an expectation of their product in terms of usability in that it provides social media news. But you also get a whole user experience with their multi-media reporting, their weekly emails, their live events and the feeling of participation that they create through social media channels. It’s what Mariana called cross-channel.
How do you go beyond the website?
True advocacy comes from good experience.
Definitely something to remember for anyone selling any product and especially important to remember when building a successful website. Of course the web is one area that brands now put a lot of money into, but they need to remember the whole cross-channel experience. Beyond the website it’s important to think about customer service. This includes both timing follow-up communications correctly and making things convenient for the customer.
Mariana came up with some fantastic statistics about the relationship between companies and their customers; But as I don’t want to mis-quote the numbers here are some similar stats from the fantastic Customer Experience Studies list on Clear Action:
- 80% of companies want to use customer experience as a form of differentiation.
- 84% of companies said positive customer experiences and word-of-mouth have helped their brands and businesses grow.
- 44% admit high-profile negative customer experiences had at some time compromised their brands.
- But only 12% are using a word-of-mouth marketing platform to drive online customer advocacy. (Remember third-person recommendations are the most influential).
And from Harvard Business School:
- “80% [of companies in their sample] believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers. But when we asked customers about their own perceptions, we found that they rated only 8% of companies as truly delivering a superior experience.” (hence my blog post title)
So how do you differentiate your brand?
Mariana came up with some top tips on this:
Start by understanding your customers. Who are they ,what do they do and what are their likes. She also noted, quite rightly, that site analytics don’t really make sense of the people doing the clicking. There are several ways to better understand your audience:
- Diary keeping
- Persona development
- Mental models
- Journey mapping
- Listening to user feedback
- Customer surveys
A tip for new startups
At the end of her speech I asked Mariana Da Silva what her tips were for new startup web-based businesses, she told me:
Consider who your customer will be. Do market research and look at competitors. She also explained that it’s great to start ahead of your site launch rather than considering customer experience afterwards in retro-fit fashion like so many sites out there.
My next post on #nmalive will come up tomorrow so stay tuned (you can subscribe to my blog on the right bar), meanwhile you can look back at the days tweets here.