Often during a design or strategic process I will be asked why we can’t just categorise the information on a web site to mirror an internal business process or the way it was before.
You know I wish we could, but unfortunately customers often don’t think the way information has been previously presented.
The problem is that customers will not have the same experiences and background as the internal staff, who often helped design the previous category system. Therefore the way customers think will often not really be taken into account.
Interestingly, for specific customer segments, it’s often the influence of our education, personal and professional environments that make a difference. We will all borrow terminology, ways of categorising, learned procedure and experiences and the like to form our own person categeorisation system. This makes for an interesting mix.
With such a varied mix, every customer would be different? Yes this is true, but there will be statistical averages and norms for any specific customer segment. It is these that we work with.
Listen to the Customer Voice
Understanding and using the way customers think is what makes an app or website easier to use.
The more in tune any service is with the way customers think the easier it will be for them to access the desired information.
When a business listens to this voice of the customer and presents information inline with the experiences of the customer then there is a marked increase in the usability and use of the service.
Being Honest with Yourself
Implementing this can be sometimes difficult.
One of the biggest roadblocks that can occur in this area is a belief that we already understand our customers.
A belief that leads us to believe from our experience and customer education that we already know what they are thinking. That we already know how they categorise items and the terminology they use.
From my experience sometimes this is the case, but it’s usually the exception.
Most of the time we believe we have this knowledge, however in fact we often just have an outdated version from a past customer era.
This is where we need to be honest. We need to really cross examine if we do know our customers that well.
Do we know what the terms are that they use for our information categorisation structure.
Does the structure reflect our knowledge of our customers, and if so , what solid evidence do we have that our knowledge is correct.
Yes I know this is confronting, but to operate an innovative business successfully you have to be constantly questioning your processes and ideas.
Understanding Your Customers
Finding out how your customers think isn’t just a matter of asking them what is okay, it takes a little more than that.
What really needs to be done here is proper research of the customers language and terminology. Often this is where you call in a professional like us, who can expand upon the knowledge you already have of your customers.
Finding that customer voice and terminology is critical to business. It’s what separates a mediocre business from a great one.