User Experience Is Everything

In the daily quest to get things done faster and better, one thing often gets lost in the shuffle: the user experience. Unfortunately, many CIOs and other executive haven’t received this memo. The end result? Products, services and functionality that either don’t work or consistently fall short of expectations.

The intersection of IT and marketing is a perfect example. Too often, organizations design Websites and apps for the benefit of the business, rather than making things easier or better for employees and customers. The result? A heap of frustration for the user. This includes pop-ups and pop-unders, disabled back buttons, and basic information that’s MIA, such as a phone number.

On numerous occasions, I’ve simply abandoned shopping carts when pop-ups did not work correctly or, worse, blocked key functionality that wouldn’t allow me to complete the transaction. I’ve also closed tabs at sites that won’t let me navigate or escape, and opted to avoid these merchants and services in the future. I know I’m not alone.

Unfortunately, these types of problems are pervasive, says Caris Hurd, user experience designer at Four Kitchens, a firm that specializes in Website and mobile app design. She contends that it’s a bad idea to “take control away from the user.” Strong-arm tactics leave users feeling “disoriented and frustrated; annoyed and confused.”

I couldn’t agree more. And while we’re at, CIOs and other business and IT leaders should re-examine just about everything relating to the customer experience. The list includes customer service policies; how various systems work across channels; and what tools and technologies are being used to support customer interactions, including interactive voice response systems that frequently waste time and turn off customers.

The bottom line is clear: Adopt an enterprise-centric approach to business, and you may cut costs and boost internal efficiencies. But any short-term gains are likely to fade, and your organization is likely to pay a steep price over the long-term. In fact, you may tarnish your brand, and, in the end, send customers to your competitors.

Good business and world-class capabilities aren’t about imposing your will on employees and customers, and it’s not about forcing them to deal with pop-up blockers, mess with browser settings and play with apps. It’s about making it possible for people to do the things they want to do in a simple and straightforward way.

That’s a recipe for success in the digital age.

Samuel Greengard, a contributing writer for CIO Insight, writes about business, technology and other topics. His forthcoming book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press), will be released in the spring of 2015.


Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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