A customer service view on user experience With Clare Burroughs, Customer Marketing Manager at WhatUsersDo
Hi! I’m Clare and I’m the new customer marketing manager at WhatUsersDo. What does that mean? It means that I’m here to represent our customers, to be their voice in the business. It’s something I’ve been doing for quite a while now and below I’ll take you through my journey…
Why won’t anyone listen?
My first (temp) job after finishing university involved working on the phones for a council. I was helping local people understand and use the newly introduced recycling scheme. It was pretty gruelling, as we had to go through the same points with people day after day, and were served up as cannon fodder for their rage and frustration. What became clear to me was the difference between annoyance with having to learn a new system (which is part of everyday life) and the baffling rage about new rules that plainly made no sense.
While talking to the “users” of this new scheme every day, patterns became clear to me and 20 or so support staff. I tried to give feedback to my manager and was rebuffed. Being a cocky 23 year old, I kept on trying to explain to whomever would listen that there were some issues which were arising again and again. Perhaps I could have been more charming or tactical about it (a valuable life lesson). But the issue was the fact that there was absolutely no way to let those at the top know how their new system was working.
I guess this was my first taste of UX or, rather, a lack of UX. I saw absolutely no interest in the user—in this case, the local taxpayer. It stayed with me because, in the end, I felt as frustrated as those I was talking to.
Making sure the customer was heard
In my next role in customer services, I made damn sure that those at the top heard from us about what was happening, day to day, with their customers. My argument was, “You want to know what your customers think? We speak to them everyday – listen to us!” Luckily, this was for a new startup with a pretty flat structure and they were very open to it.
I created a weekly presentation, bringing together the latest complaints, compliments and patterns I’d seen emerging from how people used the website and product. I used this to make recommendations on what could be fixed and to get explanations on what couldn’t. I could then take this feedback and pass it back to the customer, ensuring that they felt involved and informed. That company was graze.com,now the fastest growing snack company in the UK, then a tiny little office above a warehouse. What mattered was that the founders listened and responded. Graze regularly wins awards for usability and customer service. I’m not saying that’s all down to me but I can take a tiny bit of credit, right?
Customer service + designers = BFFs
I particularly worked on fostering a relationship with the development team, as I could see that was a great way to put in quick fixes and get quick answers. So, imagine my joy when, as a new starter at WhatUsersDo, I came across a blog post talking about just this idea.
In it, Jonathan Shariat, a Silicon-Valley based director of product and design, and writer of the viral blog post, How bad UX killed Jenny, says:
“Every designer should be friends with customer support because customer support is the other end of user testing”
YESSSSSS! Victory! Validation of what I’ve always said. Designers in my case were developers but that’s pretty close. Turns out that I’d been an advocate of UX, or at least user testing, all along.
The “Meh” Effect
My favourite thing about WhatUsersDo so far, and it’s becoming clear that everyone in the business has their own favourite thing, is that it allows for what I’m calling the “Meh” effect.
What’s the “Meh” effect? Well, my experience in customer service feedback was skewed because I felt we were hearing from certain types of people. There were mainly complaints, because (really) that’s what customer service is there for, but also compliments about things that were going well.
We never heard from the people who just thought… “Meh.” They didn’t have any particularly strong feelings about the site or if they did, they weren’t going to get in touch about them. That could have been for any number of reasons: being too busy, not being sure how to phrase things or that they’d get a response, and so on.
WhatUsersDo is great because it gives these people a voice, literally. We hear from all sorts of people about websites, not just those who actively get in touch. And I think that’s just great.
That’s all from me
Listening to your customers has always been a passion of mine so I’m delighted to have joined a business that has this ethos at it’s core. It’s also great to see that other companies are starting to sit and take notice of their customers.
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