The value of experiencing business from the outside

TECHNOLOGY
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At the end of July, I had a bicycle accident that shattered my pelvis which required surgery. I am his Vice Chancellor and Professor at UT Austin and he spent just over a week in the hospital related to medical school recovery before returning home.

I have spoken to many faculty members and administrators about our hospital over the last few years, and as a patient, I have seen many small opportunities for improvement, such as needing more vegan-friendly options in our meal service. This has led people in any organization to think more broadly about how often they truly get a customer or client perspective on their business and how much they can learn from it.

In general, many organizations do not do enough testing of their user interface and user experience. These techniques lead a typical user through a series of tests of key software and processes to determine where limitations exist. Even with a solid user experience program, it’s still valuable to have core team her members experience what it’s like to be a customer or client.

When designing a set of processes, you make a lot of assumptions about how much your customers and clients know about your business. You can also envision ideal interactions and settings for people to engage with you. However, your customers are very likely multitasking while engaging with you, and may be talking to you from a bandwidth-limited internet connection or a noisy environment.

Until you try some of these processes yourself, you may not understand the reality of the customer experience. You may notice many problems that weren’t there.

In fact, there is a field of empathic design that focuses on helping those working on product and process design engage in activities that give additional insight into the pain points that users are likely to experience. I have. Individuals can then use their design expertise to overcome the problems they identify.

A particularly interesting version of empathic design involves creating extreme experiences that test the limits of a particular product or process. This can lead to new insights on how to improve how your business works. For example, try interacting with a customer service center while playing the radio loud to simulate being in a crowded environment. Use the website in 1,000 to 7 second increments to simulate multitasking and stress. The idea here is that you can better absorb the other person’s experience by creating situations where he can walk a mile in their shoes.

These experiences become more important as you move up the organization. Frontline workers often recognize inefficiencies in the processes they handle. They may not realize it’s worth raising these concerns with their boss. Even if you mention the issue, sometimes the issue is not escalated. However, if you are several layers away from these frontline roles, you may not have first-hand experience with that customer or client. It’s time.

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