A recent ad for Bank of America stated “Life is Mobile. So is your bank.” BofA isn’t selling their product—they’re selling their customer experience. You could even say that customer experience is the product.
This example underscores a significant trend in the last few years: customer experience is the single most important competitive advantage for businesses in many different sectors – in one recent study 89% of companies put it first. If you then add the fact that customers increasingly interact with brands on their digital platforms, it is indisputable that the design of digital products by experienced UX designers is one of the most important keys to business competitiveness. This trend is also true for B2B enterprise SaaS companies.
The key word here is “experience”, and this is why user experience designers must be distinguished and elevated from those who just do user interface. The latter is concerned primarily with the functional aspects of all the features of the digital product. This is important, to be sure, but only a part of the overall digital experience that a great UX design team provides.
Apple’s recent challenges with mobile application devices that overwhelmed users by the number and complexity of their features demonstrate that simply adding more features is going to disaffect customers; their product features reached the point of negative return. Good UX and UI design services put the user first by addressing the emotional, psychological as well as functional experience of digital products – the total experience – which leads not only to improve customer experience, but also a higher level of personal attachment to the product – and by extension – to the company. We know from a variety of studies that the emotional bond between customers and their products leads to a much higher level of referral and recommendation – any company’s best marketing tool.
Developers are often given the task of designing and building the customer’s user experience for enterprises, and generally, they are less expensive than bringing in an experienced UX team. Not surprisingly, project managers from engineering backgrounds are primarily concerned with budget and speed of delivery. But in the end, this approach may turn out to be more expensive and take longer because the final product will not create a user experience that satisfies intended customers on all levels. We know that well over half of development work is re-work: fixing problems that could have been avoided by doing more comprehensive research into the user experience from the start. When I hear that UX designers are too expensive, my response is to say that not hiring them is even more expensive.
Experienced UX designers begin every project with a research phase that includes determining whether or not there is a market fit for the product (most products fail because there is not), and then a deep dive into understanding the targeted users on every level. This process may seem to extend the development time, but again, without this understanding at the outset, there is a high likelihood of time-consuming reversals of course later on.
Too often UX design for enterprises is still an untapped research; a recent survey showed that for over 50% of companies, UX has existed for less than three years. But If your competitive advantage is customer experience, and those experiences are increasingly digital, then making a real investment in professional UX design will yield a great return.