A superior user experience is hard to define. We all think our products offer the best possible user experience. Yet few companies seem to understand how to deliver on it. As per my previous posts, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a very good lead indicator to predict future growth and to measure how good the overall customer experience is. Yet the average in the USA is 5%-10%. Does that mean that we all want to deliver a mediocre user experience?
I met with Suri Raman, ex-Technical Fellow at Microsoft and one of the core brains behind the success of Microsoft Outlook few years ago. We discussed how in general the flaws in user experience are related to flaws in the basic understanding of how customers behave and use technology and flaws on understanding what the target audience really is. “We are always tempted to add one more feature, to show the beauty in complexity, rather than through simplicity, perhaps because we are not fully understanding who are we targeting in the first place”.
Sometimes the answer is obvious, for example, why we insist on using the term: signup, when that has such a strong connotation of legal binding? Use something more friendly life start-now, try-it, etc. Whose fault is this? Are we probably lost in translation and cannot speak the language that our customers speak? Isn’t this one of the fundamentals functions of good product management?
It all starts with good all-fashioned basic product marketing: Good targeting and segmentation exercise, understanding customers needs and their language and making sure the final product is built in such a way that the whole experience is a superior one. When the iPhone was introduced, it was mocked as the most limited Smartphone in the marketplace, lacking many features that the “experts” said were must needed. Today, Apple has tens of millions of units sold, over one billion applications sold and one of the highest NPS in the industry with +70%. Facebook was often mocked as a poor communication, collaboration and socialization tool with a terrible user-interface… there are over 200 million users that might disagree with such statement today. Both: Apple and Facebook are among the leaders in NPS as per recently published Satmetrix results.
Delivering on a superior experience that addresses the needs of the target audience is Marketing 101 done through good engineering. It is something that most CMOs should look at. The most important element of the marketing mix during these uncertain economic times is not to switch from offline to online mechanisms or to have a social media strategy. Is to partner closely with engineering and deliver on the best possible user experience.