If you manage, or work for, a large organization, you may find yourself wondering why you should care about user experience. This is particularly the case in industries like education, government, and healthcare that seem to be outside the technology sector of the economy. Sure you have an organizational website, an intranet, and some tools you use for collaboration, but you don’t make technology products like software, web applications, and mobile applications. UX isn’t as important for your organization as it is for a company that makes those sorts of things, right?
In fact, we’d like to claim that UX is just as important for large organizations outside the technology sector as it is for those within that sector. Below we present 3 specific reasons why UX matters for large organizations.
Reason 1: Cross-Channel UX or Managing Multiple Points of Contact
First off, the larger your organization is, the more points of contact you have with your customer base. Universities around the world now commonly offer entire degree programs online. K-12 schools are flipping the classroom by requiring students to watch video-recorded lectures at home so that they can get help with projects from real, live teachers during class. Local, state, federal, and international governments are increasing the ability of citizens to interact with their elected officials through the Government 2.0 movement. Hospitals, clinics, and outpatient facilities are making health records and other important sources of information available to providers, patients, and insurance companies through e-health systems.
More people are accessing organizations through more channels than ever before. And each of these channels must work seamlessly across devices and technical proficiencies. You can’t have a senior who needs constant access to life-saving medical advice stymied by a bad experience with technology. At the same time, you can’t expect millennials, who were born in an era when internet access was already commonplace, to utilize clunky interfaces that only work properly on a particular operating system.
UX matters now more than ever because more and more people are interacting with organizations as users first, foremost, and sometimes solely.
Reason 2: Usability = Usefulness
At the same time, if we define usability by how learnable, efficient, memorable, error-free, and satisfying a technology is, there are many technologies we encounter on a daily basis that fail to meet some or all of these criteria. How many times have we tried to get our health information from the complex application that houses it? Was it easier, or harder, than simply making a phone call? As the Healthcare.gov rollout brought into sharp focus: unusable applications can create major consequences for millions of people.
Though usability might not be fully synonymous with usefulness, the two are clearly linked. A technology that frustrates its core users with errors, non-intuitive interfaces, and difficult-to-learn tasks is most likely doomed to failure. In the case of large organizations, this failure can cost millions of dollars in lost revenue, repair work, and PR issues.
Reason 3: Who Are Your Users?
Finally, it can be difficult for large organizations to really get to know their users. An organizations that gets millions of website visits a month might be understandably confused at to what any one of those users really wants. Without a clear means of interacting with users and uncovering compelling insights from them, organizations may struggle to meet the needs of diverse groups of people who rely on their services.
A lot of organizations think of this a customer service problem, which it is, but again: many of those customers are also users. People are now about as likely to shop first at a digital storefront as they are to shop in a physical store. Customers ranging from patients to students to campaign donors now want to keep track of a wide variety of information, often in real time.
Without in-depth knowledge of what makes their core users tick, most large organizations will struggle to successfully meet the needs of those users. Churn rates will increase. Customer satisfaction will plummet.
Good UX is now becoming a key benchmark for pretty much every organization with at least one digital point of contact. If you don’t develop a satisfying user experience for your customers, chances are someone else will.