It is the question we hear every time we start a re-imagination journey for any module. Will it ever become pretty, and provide a standardized and consistent “wow” experience? Will it be like Facebook or LinkedIn?
First, deciders aren’t users
It is like the first bicycle that my dad bought me – I couldn’t test ride since I didn’t know how to; I couldn’t choose because the money wasn’t mine and I couldn’t argue the choice, because between the two of us I was clearly not the bigger or the older one.
In the business world, the experience that fascinates purchase decision makers like CXOs/IT heads might not be the same that eases the life of an employee. Some colorful dashboards or fancy features are ‘Wow’ for CXO demos, but the IT specialist might want all validations covered everywhere. Unfortunately, the wow of an easily executable simple feature doesn’t often translate into good business metrics to impress buyer decision makers. Moreover, the rare and few usability tests that are done, are conducted with existing users who have probably found a way to perfectly execute simple things in complex systems.
There is no Skip button
Facebook tries to sell stuff to me and I can conveniently skip it. I can be really annoyed about sponsored search results in Google, paid posts in Facebook and ad breaks in the middle of YouTube videos, but I have an option to never click the sponsored links.
It is not the same for enterprise app users though. The most simple and intuitive flows for the end-user might not be great for the company’s bottom-line. ‘Skip Customer Insights’ is a good option for me as a teller with a long queue, but then, there is a loss of a conversation or cross-sell opportunity that is bad for business.
As much as we claim them to be seamless, force-fitting interventions in the flow is often a pain. Smart users might find shortcuts to skip them and find new ways of using the product. The not-so-smart ones may get highly skilled with a nasty application flow and then even resist the change in this pattern.
And then there is the exact opposite of this – enterprise applications that are purely meant for task completion. Everyone sees everything and all kinds of complications are part of the same flow; which brings me to the next point:
It is not the same thing for everyone
There is only ONE version of the product in most B2C products, except for few customizable preferences. But enterprise users often in a specific role do the same set of things over and over again and don’t touch the bulk of the rest of the application. And it is totally different from another set of users using the same product in the same bank.
This reflects in the way performance is measured as well – a higher page load time may be acceptable for the back-end user if system does more validations. This might be an annoyance for the frontend user frantically searching for the customer’s open service request when a customer is standing right in front of him.
And hence the standardization question – Why is this flow not the same across channels/roles? Quickly creating a prospect is highly important when a customer expresses interest in a product on the Internet; but no customer walks into a branch to give just their name and phone number! We need to judge how much of the paper application form we really need to capture right away in the system to create intelligent prompts.
Legacy OR the big elephants in the room
Sometimes ‘Digital Transformations’ are not as pretty as we would want them to be –enterprise applications don’t change dramatically overnight. The earlier transformations might have just moved things from pen and paper to a system and retained the exact same process. There might be hundreds of costly systems in the bank that haven’t moved at the same pace. And unlike android updates, the upgrades don’t come for free and banks don’t change hardware every 2 years. There will be older versions, older integrations and older customizations.
Do we refuse to even get inspired?
Of course not, but replicating elements needs much deeper thought and understanding of the real user. And if we do understand our users, we need better ways to articulate it to those who make decisions for them!