More And More C-Level Execs Waking Up To The Benefit Of User Research And Testing

Author

Steve Olenski

March 6, 2017

A few weeks ago I wrote “Why C-Levels Need To Think About eLearning And Artificial Intelligence.” That was an inward-focused piece on the importance of things such as professional development and corporate training. This go around it’s outward-facing. It’s about improving the customer’s experience.

Today’s business environment is all about the user experience and creating those memorable and engaging experiences for customers that will have them coming back for more, time and time again. With the advent of big data, suddenly there is a lot more information available that tells businesses what type of experience to create for their users that will then maintain their loyalty and help draw new users.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the “2017 UX/CX Industry Report,” which surveyed 2,300 professionals involved in improving the customer experience (CX), including marketing, product management, design/UX, research, and other functions, found that executives are starting to pay attention to the inherent value of user research and testing.

Here are the key findings from the report:

Executive value: Support for UX, user research and end-to-end customer experience is rising.  When asked if “user research makes our company more efficient,” 81% of executives agreed or strongly agreed. When asked if “user research improves the quality of our products/services,” 86% of executives agreed or strongly agreed.

UX budgets are up: The majority of respondents indicated they invest in 3+ research methodologies (79% in usability testing, 65% in surveys, and 59% in interviews). 36% said their 2016 user research budgets increased moderately or significantly over 2015.

Testing frequency is spiking: For the fourth year, the majority of respondents said their testing frequency increased moderately or significantly. Nearly 66% said frequency would increase in 2017, and 53% said frequency increased YoY in 2016.

Research occurs early in development: Product teams find continuous user feedback during prototyping helps refine concepts quickly before investing in development. 72% conduct UX research before design or development, and 76% during design/prototyping.

Competitive research doubles: The number of respondents who conduct user research on competitors more than doubled year-over-year. Nearly 50% did in 2016.

A more connected world: Artificial intelligence (AI), multi-device interaction, and Internet of Things (IoT) top the list of most important online trends affecting user experience in the next 5 years.

Janelle Estes, Senior Director of Enterprise Research Strategy at UserTesting, says: “We’ve seen a shift in how executives and leaders invest in the customer experience. Those that are providing the best customer experiences are making significant investments to place the customer at the center of every decision they make.”

In fact, it’s not just a few people in sales or marketing that are now paying attention to user experience research. Everyone in the organization wants to be involved in the process to determine what this research can tell them so they can meet their strategic objectives.

Multiple Benefits Of User Research

All types of organizations across a multitude of industries are also seeing the benefit of user testing that can provide a means of improving how they manage their overall strategies and platforms.

The industry report also highlighted other benefits that companies are now realizing from their user research and customer experience efforts. The majority responded that user research was making their companies more efficient and was helping to improve the quality of their products or services. Those within these organizations also agreed that user research would help them develop and implement more effective marketing campaigns.

More Resources Directed At Research And Testing

The majority of survey respondents reported their testing frequency increased moderately or significantly while two-thirds predicted that they would increase testing and budgets for this effort in 2017. Brian Smith, Vice President of Marketing at UserTesting, says in the press release:

“Buy-in from the C-suite could be one reason for the growing user research budgets we’ve seen in this survey over the last four years. According to Forrester Research, the revenue impact from a 10 percentage point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion. Because better user experiences dramatically impact customer loyalty and the overall customer experience, businesses are prioritizing and maturing their UX and user research strategies.”

There was also a large spike in the amount of competitive research with the efforts nearly doubling in 2016 over the previous year. It would seem that more organizations felt that they needed to understand how their competition was handling the customer experience to assess how they might differentiate themselves.

Trends Impacting The User Experience

Determining the key trends that affect the user experience or were another area where executives are beginning to see value in regularly assessing. The respondents commented that areas related to Artificial intelligence (AI), multi-device interaction, and IoT were critical trends that they viewed as impacting the user experience over the course of the next five years. Retailers involved in the survey noted that mobile sites and omnichannel were the key trends they identified that would influence their ability to provide a better customer experience in the near future.

This provided more insights into the areas of technology where they might invest in order to enhance their customer experiences. Michael Mace, Vice President of Product Marketing at UserTesting explains, “Driven by the rise in messaging services, chatbots, virtual assistants, and other conversational interfaces are storming the mobile world. In parallel, businesses are realizing that better user experiences are key to their success.”

Reality Calls For User Experience Focus

As the report on user and customer experience research concluded, “What once seemed like science fiction is now top-of-mind for leading companies. While organizational leaders are rushing to determine how AI, IoT and voice interaction will impact their business, the now-commonplace trends of touch interfaces and wearable technology have dropped in importance year-over-year among survey respondents.”

Now is the time to get your organization focused on better understanding what defines an excellent user or customer experience by getting out there and asking those that determine how well it goes, following what the competition is doing well or missing, and gauging how technology trends will impact the overall ability to create that memorable user experience.

 

This article was written by Steve Olenski from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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