x marks the spot
Customer experience testing provides dividends to both strategy and the bottom line PHOTO: Les Chatfield

Emphasis on the digital experience (DX) is increasing for a reason: the strategic value and ROI of customer experience (CX) testing is now understood across organizations and industries. Even small improvements to the digital experience can equate to impactful upticks in sales.

For instance, when ticket marketplace StubHub collected and listened to user feedback about its path to purchase on mobile devices and desktops, the company quickly generated millions of dollars in additional revenue simply by changing a critical link — previously labeled ‘Get Details’ — to a bright orange button labeled ‘Go’. This small change alone led to a 2.6 percent increase in StubHub’s conversion ratio (CVR), resulting directly in more sales.

Test Early, Test Often 

These days, marketers and product leaders alike are testing more and more elements of their business, both early and often. In its fourth annual UX and User Research Industry Survey Report, my employer found that nearly two-thirds of the 2,300 marketers and other professionals involved in improving CX planned to increase user research frequency in 2017. 

More than 35 percent of the survey respondents also reported that their 2016 user research budgets increased moderately or significantly over 2015, showing repeat growth in the practice. 

Insights Into Competition and Consumer Attitudes

Organizations are also catching on to the array of digital and physical media they can research to understand and improve their customer experiences. For example, nearly 50 percent of study respondents reported researching their competitors, 41 percent researched mobile apps, 53 percent researched prototypes and a whopping 70 percent researched websites. 

What’s more, companies are conducting user research more frequently and from the earliest stages of product development, both to understand their customers’ behaviors and attitudes and to fend off competitors. 

Nearly 19 percent of survey respondents run usability tests weekly and 26 percent run tests monthly. The majority also said they invest in at least three research methodologies, with usability testing, surveys and interviews topping the list.

Think Quantitative and Qualitative Testing

Both quantitative and qualitative testing methods are essential for marketers to get a full view of customer satisfaction with their brands. Quantitative data will show what’s happening and where customers are dropping off. 

Qualitative research will explain the whys — how customers feel about their experiences. Testing every step of the way ensures that you capture the whole of your customers’ experiences so that you can design solutions that meet their unique needs.

Pinpoint Pain Points Via Analytics 

To begin measuring digital customer experiences and finding ways to improve them, web analytics are one of the most valuable tools. A great place to start is by comparing conversion rates across different device types. If certain channels appear to be more or less successful than others, it could be time to investigate them further. You can also try to pinpoint drop-off points in the customer journey by asking:

  • How often are shopping carts abandoned on desktops, tablets or smartphones?
  • Which pages of my website have the highest bounce rates?
  • Do any pages have an unusually high or low time on page?

Inspecting your analytics for any data that might be raising those red flags is an excellent place to start. Remember though, that just finding something strange or negative in the data won’t explain what’s going through your customers’ heads or give any clues about what improvements to make.

For those answers, it’s important to conduct some form of qualitative research.

Measuring Opinions and Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction surveys and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are useful methods to measure customers’ opinions of your brand. NPS asks customers how likely they would be to recommend a company to a friend. Other types of surveys ask customers to rate their levels of satisfaction with recent purchases, interactions with an employee or the company overall. 

Yet while these tactics help uncover trends in the customer experience, they don’t offer the context behind those trends. To get a more realistic picture, observe customers interacting with your company’s touch points using different devices, ideally in their natural settings. 

By watching real people speaking their thoughts aloud as they attempt to complete various tasks, your organization can understand where your customers are getting frustrated or confused — and why.

Identify the X Factor

These are just a few ways to dig into collecting the feedback needed to improve your company’s customer experiences across digital channels. It’s key to marry qualitative with quantitative research by remembering that the common denominator between DX, CX and UX is simply eXperience. Focus on the ‘X’ factor to improve conversion rates, increase revenues and earn loyal customers.