A study on the user experience that companies offer

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1 User Experience and return on investment A study on the user experience that companies offer Francesca Di Mari Michela Perotti evolving experience sketchin.ch

2 Executive summary Companies that know their end-users needs and behavior also happen to be those most satisfied with their business performance; also, the ones that achieve better results are the ones that carry out research, as opposed to those that rely on their opinion. The data gathered through the Study on the user experience that companies offer survey confirmed a close correlation between awareness of a company s end-users, their satisfaction, and return on investment. Companies and the importance of knowing their clients Right now customers or users are the center of attention like never before. We ve come a long way since the days when buying was something people were induced to do and the options to choose from were very few. This consideration holds true in regards to the market in general, but even more so for the one mediated by digital channels: the options a person has access to are many and it s what people choose that determines the success of a product or service. Companies can no longer legitimately think that their products will be successful without taking into account the needs and behavior of the people who are supposed to use them, at the choice-making stage as well as at the usage stage. In this context, companies in most cases declare they know their clients. But how well do they really know them? When knowing is illusory - the paradox of knowledge According to survey results, all companies affirm they know their clients. All of them (some more, some less) use strategies to better understand them. All the while, companies aren t certain that their offer fully meets customer demands. Survey results reveal that companies harbor significant doubts concerning client satisfaction and, above all, their business performance. Data shows how companies are actually unaware of the expectations that people who use their products have. It s otherwise hard to understand how they could declare that they know them and, at the same time, doubt whether their offer is good enough or if it really satisfies their end-users. 2

3 The right investment for the right size A careful examination of the correlation existing among company size, awareness of users, adequacy of the digital offer, and business performance, shows that mediumsized companies achieve the best results, followed by the smaller companies, and finally the larger ones. Small and medium-sized businesses can boast the best results. The behavior of the two business types is basically the same. Small businesses declare they know their clients more than anyone else, but are barely satisfied with their return on investment: 50% have a positive view of it. It s the medium-sized businesses that can boast the best performances, especially as far as the return on investment is concerned. In fact, 69.2% of the companies considered are satisfied with it. Large businesses are the ones who know the least about their clients needs and behavior, and consequently complain about the inadequacy of their digital offer and their clients dissatisfaction, and are themselves discontent about their return on investment. Only 35% of the businesses examined is satisfied with their ROI. As for the tools used to obtain feedback from their users, there are no significant differences: in all three groups the most widely used methods are direct feedback, social media monitoring, and the analysis of web statistics, following which are more structured tools such as market research, focus groups, and user tests. The different business results depend on how much companies invest in proportion to turnover, in terms of money and energy spent to get a better understanding of their clients. How does business performance satisfaction vary with a better understanding of users? How aware are you of the behavior and needs of your users? How well does your digital offer match the needs of your users and clients? How satisfied are your users or clients? How satisfied are you with your company s performance? 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% Small businesses Medium-sized businesses Large businesses 3

4 Investing in user experience is worth it By analyzing the sample group of companies all together, no longer divided into subgroups according to business type, the data proves that investing on understanding one s clients means having a competitive advantage. In the light of data analysis, it appears that a good understanding of the needs and behavior of a company s target market is closely related to business performance. It is worthy to point out that economic satisfaction increases proportionally with a greater understanding of one s users and clients. Same thing happens with customer satisfaction, as highlighted in the following diagrams. [...] investing on understanding one s clients means having a competitive advantage [...] The first diagram shows that investing in getting to know your clients better leads to a proportional increase in return on investment. The more you invest in user experience research, the more you re satisfied with your business performance. The second diagram instead shows how underinvestment in user experience research leads to relevant discontent in end-users. Investing just barely enough yields mediocre results, while investing too little or not at all means sure failure. How does satisfaction with business performance vary with a better understanding of clients? How does client satisfaction vary with a better understanding of clients? 70.0% % % 35.0% % 40% % % 0% 0 0% 0 0 none little neutral satisfactory a lot none little neutral satisfactory a lot performance satisfaction customer satisfaction 4

5 Opinion vs. method By putting our data through cluster analysis, it appears that companies can be divided into two groups which differ primarily in the tools used to investigate people s behavior and needs: the first group relies on methods that are more structured and rigorous than those adopted by the second group, which prefers to use somewhat more approximate methods, followed by an interpretation based on extemporary considerations and not backed by a factual countercheck. Based on this classification, we identified two groups: the method group and the opinion group. Companies belonging to the first group on the average achieve better results than those belonging to the second group as far as suitability of digital offer, client satisfaction, and business performance of their digital products or services are concerned. The results are also significantly superior and the margin is between 30 and 40 percentage points. Knowing who your end-users are isn t enough; it is also important to know how this knowledge is gained: the adoption of structured and methodical approaches, investigation of users opinions and behavior through accurate tools leads to better and more profitable effects. On the contrary, relying on personal opinions, prejudice, and expectations leads to poorer results. How does business performance satisfaction vary with a better understanding of users? How well does your digital offer meet the needs of your users or clients? How satisfied are your users or clients? How satisfied are you with your business performance? 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% Method group Opinion group 5

6 Conclusion To achieve a satisfying performance, not only is it important to have an understanding of the people your commercial offer intends to reach; choosing which research method to use to investigate their needs and expectations is just as essential. Approaches based on research and on evaluation of objective indicators allow a company to confront the market in a constructive manner. Companies mustn t be afraid to evaluate their offer also on the basis of user and market feedback. They must therefore be brave enough to confront reality. Investing in user experience research and design in a systematic and structured way gives a considerable and desirable economic advantage. [...] A structured approach represents a strategic dimension when aiming to guarantee the economic success of a company s digital products or services [...] 6

7 A few tips The data shows that a structured approach to evaluating user experience represents a strategic dimension when aiming to guarantee the economic success of digital products or services. Research results also provide information that helps recognize successful cases; starting from the model adopted in the aforesaid cases, it is possible to offer suggestions to companies that decide to change their digital offer according to the user-centered approach. Rely on research The data shows that the best business results are achieved by those who adopt structured and rigorous methods to investigate the needs and expectations of their users and clients. This is why it is best to rely on research rather than on empirical and approximate methods. The better you know the people you want to reach, the more chances you have of designing a successful product or service. Invest in user research Devote a team of people and a fixed budget to user research. Restricting this activity merely to spare moments yields mediocre results. Allocating resources for user research activities is to be considered an investment and not a waste of energy. Be brave enough to change Understanding people and the contexts of use also means being willing to change, to transform your design project to adapt it to market requirements. Your idea, just as it has been conceived, might be totally approved by whomever is to develop it, but it might not be appreciated as much by other people. In addition, users, their contexts, and their needs aren t eternal, but change over time as conditions change; to achieve performances that are positive and steady over time, it s important that you be willing to vary your digital offer following changes in your market of interest. 7

8 Confront reality In order to understand who a service is meant for, it s not enough to just ask around, relying on what you already know or, worse, on preconceived ideas that have long flourished on your digital offer. To design and sell a successful product or service - one therefore appreciated by its designated users - it is necessary to confront reality in an objective manner: with the expectations, needs, desires of the users and the contexts in which they live and operate. All these expedients must be coupled with a design pathway, planned and developed in a methodical and professional way. Methodology Research was carried out by means of a structured questionnaire given to managers, entrepreneurs, and directors. Between September and November 2011, 97 questionnaires were completed. The sample group cannot be assumed to accurately represent the entire population. The sample group was selected among subscribers and followers of Sketchin s information channels and thus more familiar with the concept of user experience. This is why the results might be in some way distorted, providing a more optimistic picture of the situation. The figures are available in the technical data sheet attached. 8

9 We are a user experience design studio that focuses on digital products and services. We work with your company to discover, design, and drive evolution of successful digital products and services by working with the people who will use them. We are specialized in making the user experience of your digital products and services evolve over time while steadily improving them

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