The Gist

  • Digital magic. Web designers skillfully balance CX success and project constraints to create measurable user experiences.
  • Metric variety. KPIs differ across industries and projects, with target users (B2B, B2C, B2E) significantly impacting design outcomes.
  • Guiding principles. Aligning UX goals with business objectives, leveraging user feedback and fostering a culture of continual improvement help ensure CX success.

In the early days of the internet, web designers were regarded as digital magicians, conjuring up products that amazed and delighted users. The truth, however, is that every part of this process is measured, from business goals and brand guidelines to user ratings and ADA compliance. Designers continually push the boundaries of CX success while working within the given constraints of each project. Whether a user journey ends up sublime or second-rate, it is always measurable.

Even the briefest of online searches into measuring UX success will bring up dozens of “must-have metrics” to which designers should adhere. Just because we can measure everything doesn’t mean everything is going to help track true customer success. Key performance indicators (KPIs) vary a lot from industry to industry and project to project. The biggest factor affecting a product’s look, feel and functionality — and by extension, its KPIs — are its target users: B2B, B2C or B2E.

While UX professionals will be familiar with NPS scores, CSATs, click-throughs, customer lifecycles, ROI, customer effort, customer churn and many more metrics, a UX designer working on an internal tool is much more likely to forego sales metrics in favor of productivity measures. Given this vast choice of metrics available, UX and CX professionals need to be savvy in how they steer product design in their organizations. Here are six guiding principles that should inform the metrics that measure CX success.

1. Map UX Goals Onto Wider Business Goals

That UX teams should understand the wider business context and strategic goals are no-brainers. Typically, these will be expressed in revenue or growth targets. But what’s harder is translating these enterprise targets into CX success criteria. After discussion with internal stakeholders, the end result should be a set of drilled-down metrics that UX professionals can influence and track, such as making customer journeys quicker and easier, improving usability or increasing engagement, to name a few.

Related Article: Top Customer Experience Metrics That Impact Internal Operations

2. Pay Attention to User Feedback

User feedback is rightly considered one of the most important levers we have at our disposal when looking to improve UX design. By listening to users, designers can identify areas of improvement, as well as better understand the user’s needs, expectations and pain points. Some of the most common ways of tracking user feedback are surveys, engagement metrics and tools that monitor customer satisfaction (NPS, CSAT, etc.).

All these resources help to build a better understanding of the user, their journey and how to improve it. A lot of the time, CX success is about improving these journeys, so the importance of user feedback cannot be underestimated.

3. Beware of User Feedback

When asked about the value of customer feedback in the development of the Model T, Henry Ford reportedly quipped, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” In other words, there are some scenarios where designers should not faithfully address user feedback, typically when there is potential for a big visionary leap in functionality that the user/customer may not be able to see.

Fast forward to today — an age in which whole industries have been digitally disrupted in just a few years — and this quote serves as a good reminder that there is always room for innovation and improvement. In today’s environment, when I hear users saying things like “I want to do that quicker” or “I wish I could do this,” that is my cue to examine the root cause of what they’re trying to achieve. Sometimes, the answer lies in rethinking the solution rather than making it faster or more efficient.

Related Article: 20 Customer Experience Metrics Critical for Your Business

Learning Opportunities

4. Reap the Rewards of Stakeholder Collaboration

In B2E deployments in particular, digital transformation initiatives that promise benefits such as improved productivity or increased efficiency can be unsettling for the users for a range of reasons. Such implementations can result in low user acceptance. Perhaps employees are worried about job security in light of the technological revamp, or perhaps they’re comfortable with the current process and are reluctant to learn a new system. Whatever the underlying reason, user acceptance is a key indicator of success.

Time spent investing in stakeholder engagement can feel slow, but it is ultimately rewarding. By taking the time to secure buy-in, aligning expectations and goals and thoroughly training employees, organizations pave the way for improved CX.

5. Create a Culture of Continual Improvement

Continual monitoring is a valuable tool for identifying areas of improvement. As well as many of the ways we measure satisfaction and engagement, tracking user reviews, ratings and customer surveys are all practical ways to gauge customer sentiment and identify common complaints or issues.

What’s more, these early indicators offer the first telltale clues when something is amiss, long before a sales or revenue target is missed. When measuring CX success, including continual monitoring of metrics can help the business troubleshoot problems early.

6. SMART Metrics for CX Success

I can’t tell you what precise set of KPIs are right for your project, but however you frame your CX success metrics, you should ensure that they are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound). Simply, providing more context for KPIs almost always delivers better results. This could mean tweaking a target to show an acceptable range (“reduce help desk calls by 15-25%”), breaking down goals into manageable timeframes (“improve error rates by 25% in the first three months), or reframing KPIs (putting dollar equivalents to CX improvements).

Measuring CX success can be challenging due to the vast number of metrics available. Many of these metrics are critical as part of a measurement strategy that aligns UX goals with the objectives of the business. Rather than a prescriptive approach to goal setting, I believe UX teams should be guided by several best practice concepts when formulating metrics to create meaningful experiences for users.

Furthermore, given the pace at which digital services are accelerating and that user needs and expectations are shifting, reviewing metrics and methodologies regularly is critical to help companies embed a culture of continual improvement.

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