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10 Useful Usability Findings and Guidelines

25. Sep - 2009




1.      Form Labels Work Best Above The Field

2.      Users Focus On Faces

3.      Quality Of Design Is An Indicator Of Credibility

4.      Most Users Do Not Scroll

5.      Blue Is The Best Color For Links

6.      The Ideal Search Box Is 27-Characters Wide

7.      White Space Improves Comprehension

8.      Effective User Testing Doesn’t Have To Be Extensive

9.      Informative Product Pages Help You Stand Out

10.Most Users Are Blind To Advertising



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Smashing magazine :

5 Customer Experience Management Myths

11. Sep - 2009

Author: Robert Howard

As customer experience management (CEM) continues to gain importance in the minds of today’s CEOs, more and more companies are taking on customer experience management projects to improve customer satisfaction, develop better customer insights, nurture customer loyalty and advocacy, and improve customer lifetime value. The rapid rise to the top echelons of strategic priority has brought an unfortunate side affect; numerous customer experience management myths have begun to form due to a flood of conflicting definitions, perspectives and over-hyped promises.

For any company seeking to establish or improve its customer experience management capabilities, it’s important to dispel these myths once and for all.

Myth #1: Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the Only Metric You Need

The customer experience can be broad, long running, it can span channels, and is influenced by any combination of internal and external factors. Attempting to measure it effectively with a single metric such as customer satisfaction or net promoter score is overly simplistic and risky. Effectively managing the customer experience requires effective measurement and management of a portfolio of metrics that will provide a true measure of what is – or is not – working.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of customer advocacy that was the centerpiece of Fred Reichheld’s 2006 book titled ‘The Ultimate Question.’ The net promoter score is calculated by taking the percent of customers who are promoters less the percent of customer who are detractors. Obviously, the higher the resulting number – the better.

While the net promoter score is an effective measure of overall customer advocacy, it will not address all of your potential customer experience management questions. Here’s why:

1. Customer advocacy – or net promoter score – measures only one dimension of the customer experience. Focusing only on a single metric such as net promoter score means ignoring equally important dimensions such as customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. An effective and comprehensive customer experience program must take all of these dimensions into consideration.
2. The net promoter score is only an aggregated measure of the total customer experience. However, the number of factors and touch points that contribute to the overall customer experience can be numerous. Focusing only on an aggregate metric without understanding or managing the contributing factors can yield unpredictable results. Companies seeking to improve their overall customer experience must focus on managing and measuring the underlying events that contribute to an exceptional customer experience.
3. The net promoter score does not necessarily equate to customer action. For example, for every customer that says they would “definitely recommend” the company in a customer survey may not make any actual recommendations. Companies seeking to realize tangible results will need to correlate their NPS ratings with other key business metrics such as new customer additions, increase in profitability, or changes in market share.

While NPS is an important customer experience metric, companies that are looking to establish or improve their customer experience capabilities will need to identify a more robust set of metrics that will measure all dimensions of the customer experience lifecycle.

Myth #2: Customer Experience is Just a New Term for Customer Service

Customer service just doesn’t measure up to the customer experience. Make no mistake, customer service is as important as ever; delivering great customer service is one of the most tangible and visible methods for improving customer satisfaction. Customer service, however, represents only a small fraction of the overall customer experience. Companies that talk themselves into a false sense of accomplishment by focusing only on customer service are missing the bigger picture; customer experience encompasses much more that just customer service.
While customer service is important, focusing solely on customer service misses the mark on the bigger picture. Here’s why:

1. Customer service often represents only a subset of potential touch points: a receptionist, a call center representative, or a restaurant waiter or waitress. Each touch point does provide a significant contribution to how each customer is treated. Even the best customer service, however, won’t rectify an otherwise flawed customer experience. In contrast, the customer experience is broad and encompasses all touch points that can extend from the customer’s first impression to their ultimate defection.
2. Customer service often refers to human interaction with the customer. While human interaction is critical, consumers are increasingly utilizing self-service alternatives via the internet, automated telephone response systems, and kiosks. According to a study by Pew Internet Study, 73% of adult Americans use the internet, a touch point dimension that continues to grow steadily. Customer experience initiatives must consider all touch points and channels in order to grasp the end-to-end scope of the customer experience process.

While customer service is an important component of the overall customer experience, companies that are looking to establish or improve their customer experience capabilities should define their customer experience more broadly; the customer experience should be defined as an end-to-end process that begins with customer attraction, flows through interaction, and ends with cultivation – where the process starts over.

Myth #3: Each Channel Should Have A Unique Customer Experience

Thanks to technology and multiple points of presence, business just keeps getting more complex. Innovations in technology have brought new channels such as the call center, Internet, and now mobile channels in many industries. Many businesses, anxious to stay in the game, jump in with new channel offerings without an integrated view of the customer.

Granted, each channel has unique characteristics and can be used in different ways and for different purposes by the customer. Treating each channel experience as unique and independent, however, is a recipe for disaster. Each channel may indeed be different; the customer experience shouldn’t be.

Ever since the day that Ray Kroc began expanding the McDonald’s empire, he set the standard for consistency across each and every location. No matter where you are in the world, the McDonald’s experience is the same. Ray Kroc’s formula for consistency should be a blueprint for any business operating in a multi-channel environment today. Managing each channel as unique and different shouldn’t be. Here’s why:

1. Customers are increasingly expecting multiple channel options. According to a Sterling Commerce Study, 80% of customers surveyed feel it is important to have a choice of shopping across multiple channels when choosing a retailer. Businesses with only a single channel option, or channels which are discrete and disconnected, will likely miss the boat.
2. Customers expect the customer experience to be the same across channels. According to a survey conducted by Tealeaf, 85% of adults expect their online service levels to be the same as offline, an increase of 3% from the prior year. Providing inconsistency across channels will only contribute to customer frustration or confusion.
3. Customers will likely switch channels. As the number of channels available to the customer continues to grow, so too does the challenge of providing seamless cross-channel integration. A customer experience that begins in one channel should transfer seamlessly and be continued in another without interruption. Lack of consistency across channels will only detract from the overall customer experience.

While each business channel has unique characteristics and can be used in different ways and for different purposes by the customer, each channel experience should not be designed or managed independently. Companies that are seeking to establish or improve their total customer experience should focus on cross-channel consistency and seamless channel handoffs regardless of the customer experience scenario. Simply put, maintaining discrete channels with separate customer experiences won’t cut it for today’s demanding customers.

Myth #4: A Centralized Customer Database Provides a 360-degree View of the Customer

Establishing a 360-degree view of the customer has long been the holy grail of any CRM program. Many companies consolidate their multiple customer databases into a centralized customer database and declare victory. Although establishing a single customer database is foundational to a 360-degree view of the customer, a customer database alone often won’t provide your company with a complete view of the customer. Here’s why:

1. A centralized customer database often contains only basic or static data including name, address, account number, demographic and profile information. Although this core information is critical, it often won’t provide historical information regarding transactions or changes to address, account, or profile information. Without historical information, it’s difficult to get a complete picture of the customer.
2. Customer interactions can take place in many forms, at multiple locations, and across multiple channels. Unless the customer database is specifically designed to store interactions, you’ll be missing an important element of your customer’s behaviors.
3. Customer databases are often designed to support operational activities such as transaction processing, order management, and billing. Operational databases often lack robust customer analytics that are necessary to unlock the secrets of the customer experience.
4. Customer feedback is often collected and managed separately from customer information. As a result, correlating customer sentiment to specific customers or customer segments can be difficult.

Although a centralized customer database is foundational to a 360-degree view of the customer, a database alone won’t provide the complete picture. Companies that are seeking to establish or improve their total customer experience should look beyond customer databases to more robust data warehousing capabilities that include a view of historical changes, transactions, interactions, and feedback that can provide a complete 360-degree view of the customer.

Myth #5: CRM Software = Customer Experience Solution

As CRM concepts have matured, the hype-engines have been thrust into overdrive. The resulting marketing can make it difficult to differentiate between CRM and CEM. But make no mistake; Customer Experience Management is much different that Customer Relationship Management. Choosing a CRM software solution to solve your customer experience issues can miss the mark. Here’s why:

1. CRM software is typically more functional (rather than process-centric) in nature. Many CRM systems are designed to provide specific point solutions to support CRM functions such as call center support, eCommerce, marketing automation, or loyalty reward management. While each point solution often works well, CRM software solutions alone won’t enable or help to manage the end-to-end nature of the customer experience process.
2. CRM software is limited to the reach of its technology and can’t support or influence all touch points. While CRM software has come a long way over the past decade, there are still customer experience touch points that can’t be directly influenced or managed by CRM software. Touch points such as employee interactions, aspects of direct marketing, and third-party touch points may have a significant impact on the customer experience but may not be supported by CRM software.
3. CRM software is often implemented as a best-of-breed solution and lacks the level of enterprise-wide integration necessary to develop and manage a true 360-degree view of the customer. CRM software solutions are great at managing customer information. The view of the customer can limited, however, if a complete set of customer interactions, behaviors, or preferences aren’t properly captured and analyzed. Interactions such as inbound and outbound communications, campaigns, or customer care interactions are often not tracked and managed by CRM solutions. CRM solution alone won’t solve this problem; businesses must take the steps to engrain CEM concepts throughout all touch points in their enterprise.
4. CRM solutions provide a limited set of customer experience metrics. While CRM solutions often provide key functional metrics, they are often transaction in nature and won’t provide a comprehensive set of metrics necessary to analyze, measure, and manage the end-to-end customer experience.

While CRM software is an important first step for any business seeking to improve their customer relationships, it is not a surrogate for Customer Experience Management. Companies that are seeking to establish or improve their total customer experience should look beyond CRM software solutions and seek customer experience solutions that augment CRM software. CEM specific capabilities should include business process management, sophisticated customer experience analytics, and enterprise-wide visibility to customer interactions that span the total customer experience.

About the Author:

Robert Howard is the Founder and Chief Executive of ClearBrick LLC, a leading provider of customer experience business solutions, research, and advice.

Find out how to develop your own Customer Experience Blueprint.

Article Source: ArticlesBase.com5 Customer Experience Management Myths

Influence of Cultural Background on Non-verbal Communication in a Usability Testing Situation

01. Jan - 2009

Pradeep G. Yammiyavar, Torkil Clemmensen, Jyoti Kumar


Designers are continuously engaged in elicitation of user data, prior to new product conceptualisation as well as during testing of prototypes. When such user data collection happens across different cultures, data is often collected and analysed ignoring the rich qualitative cues embedded in non-verbal communications such as gestures. In cross-cultural situations, gestures can yield additional information from the user. This paper analyses non verbal kinesthetic cues of users engaged in a verbal protocol based testing situation. To know the extent of influence of the participants’ cultural background on the nature of non-verbal communications such as gestures of the head and hands and to find out if there is an increase of gestures in the vicinity of usability problems, gestures in videos of usability Think- Aloud sessions were analysed using a content analysis software tool. The experiment revealed that there is a rich non-verbal component of communication in the form of gesture-clusters and body movements that happen in an interactive cross-cultural usertesting situation. While some gesture types are culture specific, cultural background itself seems not to influence the rate or pattern of the gestures’ occurrence. Therefore, gestures do hold potential as a source of additional user behavior data in a cross-cultural testing situation.

Selling good usability as a project goal

24. Dec - 2008

by David on September 28th, 2007

There is no doubt that usability is incredibly important for most Web sites, yet an alarming number of sites exhibit serious usability faults suggesting strongly they were not user tested and probably not developed with user-centred design practices.
Usability is becoming an increasingly important element of Web design and development, yet why is it such a tough sell?

1. Consequences are invisible – users might be shaking their heads in despair and bailing out of a site within seconds of arriving, yet most usability problems go unnoticed and unreported; if you can’t see a problem, there’s nothing to fix.

2. Clients want click-click-wow! – Web sites typically get judged on very superficial criteria. A great concept and slick design are enough to get a thumbs up and the invoice paid. Like any business, agencies must satisfy their clients.

3. Fun factor for the project team – creativity, innovation and pushing boundaries are undoubtedly more fun than dry boring user-centred design practices.

4. Usability perceived to stifle design – if a project starts with and is driven by a creative process, there will be resistance to user-centred design practices interfering with aesthetics. There is no reason why this should be such a problem. Teams need to work in harmony.

5. Overstretched budgets – what gets dropped when the budget starts to run out? Usability, and documentation are often the first to go. Core activities gobble up budgets which are already eaten in to by client/project acquisition costs.

6. No measurement of success – remarkably, many Web sites are not evaluated for how successful they are. With most other forms of marketing or promotional activity, measuring results is essential. Web sites seem to escape this scrutiny.

What is missing here? Users.
Clients quite correctly assume that when their appointed design/Web agency creates a Web site, the job will be done well, and this includes whatever needs to be done to deliver a successful project.
Taking responsibility
So, if important work like usability (which includes accessibility) and basic SEO get neglected, is the client or the agency responsible?
Few clients will insist upon specific technicalities, never mind conduct due diligence checks. It is therefore up to agencies to ensure that project scope includes work like usability and that budget allocation covers it.
Herein lies the problem: Web sites are more time (and therefore, cost) intensive than most people realise and it is the less visible work which typically gives way when tight budgets are stretched, particularly by expansive agency overheads.
The solution, therefore, is not only to raise awareness amongst both clients and agencies, but also for budgets to be more accommodating. For this to happen, clients need to appreciate the value, importance and scale of their online initiatives, and agencies need to control costs and manage budgets more carefully.

It is not unusual for large proportions of a Web site budget to get consumed by project acquisition costs and creative work, even before the developers have fired up their code editors. This leaves little room for the likes of usability, copywriting, content development, QA testing, SEO, security audits, online marketing…

It is quite understandable that agencies are driven not only by their own creative values, but also by a desire – and business need – to satisfy their clients. Until users, customers and true results start to count more, usability will struggle to attain the level of importance it needs and deserves.