In both business and design, nothing can be accidental. It’s important to think about every aspect of what you’re building and know the justifications behind a decision.
User experience design (abbreviated as UX design) is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product or service by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product. The system could be a website, a web application or desktop software and, in modern contexts, is generally denoted by some form of human-computer interaction — but any sort of business can learn from the practice.
I sat down with our world-class design team, in charge of every user experience, workflow, and interface within the Maxwell Health platform to talk about why it’s so important to learn our customers’ pain points, the strategies that they use, and what benefits advisors can learn from them.
It takes a village
In any business, customer feedback comes in both qualitative and quantitative forms, through many different channels and people within a team. As we discussed in our last article, it’s critical that everyone on your team understands the importance of gathering customer feedback and appreciates what the data will inform going forward.
Create a workflow to gather and categorize feedback as it comes to you, and hold your entire team accountable so they stick to the process. It is the responsibility of everyone that interacts with customers to be the eyes and ears on the ground for feedback, and to understand the next steps so the company can act on it.
Commit and assign a champion
Like so many business initiatives, gathering and acting on feedback gathered from customers will only be successful if there are resources dedicated to the initiative. It’s critical to assign a person or team to own the process and prioritize action.
Our company’s customer-facing teams aggregate, tag and categorize customer feedback as it comes in, saving it in a centralized system for our product teams to learn from and act upon. Product Designer Carrie Casey owns the process of pulling the data on a monthly basis and sorting it based on common areas of improvement in order to get a high level, but valuable, view of the most common areas of feedback, and prioritize what to dive into more deeply.
Reach out early and often
It’s also important to reach out proactively and talk to the people who might not regularly raise their hand to share their experiences with your team.
Our design team reaches out to users at every stage in the UX design process, with a variety of strategies that can adapt to agencies’ services and client support.
“Before we even start designing, we’ll often sit in on support calls, or read recaps of actual conversations our team has had with our customers. We’ll also host exploratory sessions where we don’t show anything, we just ask things like, ‘In an ideal world, how would want to solve this problem?” says Athena Ziavras, UX Researcher for Maxwell. “It’s super important for us to let them do the talking, and not to drive the conversation. We want to understand their frame of mind and hear their dreams.” Asking open-ended questions like this of your clients can help you drill down to their most important problem, right away — and it may not be what you expect.
After initial exploratory sessions, the design team leads usability sessions with prototypes and interactive wireframes. These are low-cost, quick ways to test a concept, without using resources that should be dedicated to making finalized designs a reality. They’ll do several rounds of wireframes and usability sessions before settling on a final design, making sure to incorporate user feedback throughout the process of conceptualizing a new initiative. Similarly, you should go back to the drawing board after hearing your clients' problems or questions and come back to them with an action plan for addressing it, upon which they can provide feedback.
When designs are final, the team uses short surveys, both within the platform and through other channels, to gauge sentiment on recent improvements both during the experience of using a new function, and after. The team also follows up with anyone who indicates in a survey that they’re willing to share in order to learn as much from them as possible. Some of our benefit advisor partners conduct customer satisfaction surveys right after an enrollment period to help understand where there's room for improvement on both the employee and HR side.
Be transparent with your customers
In taking time away from their work to provide feedback, your clients are doing you a favor. It’s an indication that they rely on your service and they’re invested in your success as a company. They’ll look forward to seeing their ideas come to fruition, especially if their feedback comes from a specific pain point.
Building empathy goes both ways. Be transparent with your clients and help them understand your process to incorporate their feedback into solutions going forward. You don’t always need an instant solution. Making sure that your clients feel listened to, and making sure that they know you’re working to solve their problems is paramount to creating a positive, long-term relationship.