User Experience is King
March 22, 2022

Rob Mason

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For businesses of every size and industry, customer experience should be of the highest priority. In today's "new normal," the majority of customer experiences are now happening digitally. This means everything from signing up for an account to checking out online needs to be perfected for a smooth, easy user experience. If potential customers are frustrated by your sign-up process, or things don't work as they'd expect, it's all too easy for them to turn to your competitors for similar offerings and easier user experiences.

To get insights into how users feel about signing up for new digital services and overall expectations of their online experiences, my organization, Applause, conducted a survey last month with over 4,200 participants globally on this topic. Here's what we found.

Nearly 2/3 of consumers have abandoned an online purchase or account sign-up because the process was too difficult. This stat alone highlights just how important user experience is. The majority of a business' potential customers will go elsewhere or not complete a sale just because of user experience. With that in mind, excellent digital user experience isn't a nice to have for today's brands. It's not even a competitive advantage. It's an essential, and without it, a business is unlikely to succeed.

Taking it a step further, we asked what specifically was difficult about the online sign-up process that led users to abandon it. The five most common challenges were:

■ Too many steps / too long of a process

■ Process was unclear

■ Something didn't work right, a bug in the application

■ Account activation issues

■ Difficulty entering the required information

Poor customer onboarding hurts any organization's bottom line. It increases the costs required to get a new customer, lowers customer retention, and in today's online-first world, can result in negative reviews for your application or website that make potential customers avoid it entirely. Today, poor user experience equals lost opportunities, and worse, poor brand reputation.

Other findings from our survey included:

■ 64% of users had created two or more new digital service accounts within the past month

■ 55% reported experiencing a digital process that took too long or had too many steps

■ 32% said they experienced a digital process that was unclear

While these numbers show just how little the margin for digital error is, they could be even worse. When users were asked why they didn't abandon a process, they typically reported that the account was required (for work, school, etc.), or they couldn't get the same product or service elsewhere.

The bottom line findings from this survey were that in a digital-first world, user patience is low and expectations are high. Users expect applications to be easy to understand and use, and to work without any issues or errors arising. If a process is too complex or slow, that is enough to send a potential customer to your competitors.

The reality of the situation is, no user experience can be totally perfect for everyone. Each user is different, coming from a different location, using a different device, among many other variables. The best thing an organization can do is give application development and testing the time and resources needed to get it right. You can equate prioritizing digital user experience with prioritizing your customers, something brands have been doing all along. The main difference is that the landscape for making customers king has shifted to online. As you would train employees to deliver excellent customer service and be ready to help customers when they enter a store, you need to bring that same thoughtfulness to your digital applications, by designing and testing them with your users in mind.

Rob Mason is CTO of Applause
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