Enterprise User Experience: 5 tips to get it right

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Customer Experience is certainly a trendy theme these days.  Browsing my LinkedIn feed, all I see are major CX projects and initiatives, blog posts about the best techniques to get the CX right, and even some discussions about the ROI of CX. It’s great to see that we care so much about our customers – and it should really be the way to go.  But what about Enterprise User Experience? 

Great customer experience requires great Enterprise User experience 

Customers are only the first layer of great products & services. In order to fulfill their needs, many organizations are deploying digital tools to make sure that customers can engage with them in a frictionless way. 

However, hundreds of employees are playing a big role behind the scenes to support a stellar customer experience for most businesses. Most of their activities happen without even getting in touch with customers.  Processing orders & payments, managing inventories, crafting & packaging products, shipping finished goods or handling customer service. This all happens without your customers noticing.

Too often, a bad experience for those Enterprise users will reflect badly on the customer experience.  Designing with the customer in mind also means that you need to design with the Enterprise user in mind. 

Enterprise User Experience: building products & services for employees behind the scenes 

On one side, we can consider employees as “internal customers” when it comes to designing solutions for them. In this scenario, taking a user-centred approach to design should help you to build processes & systems that would take their specific reality into consideration. 

On the other side, employees are not your typical users.  From my experience, they have 5 key characteristics that differentiate them from your customers. 

They are captive users

Employees in your warehouse fulfilling your customer orders have to use an inventory management system. This is essential to track their work and make sure that things run smoothly & on time.  However, they must use the one & only system your organization carefully implemented. They don’t have the luxury of shopping around and choosing another system. 

What it means for you: building empathy for your users is critical here in order to select or build the right solution for them.  Otherwise, employee morale & engagement can go down really fast, impacting your customer experience. 

They are everyday users

Underwriters reviewing applications for insurance coverage and accepting or rejecting them based on risk analysis are doing this job 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. They perform their work using a few critical systems that can make or break their productivity, like most employees in organizations.   

What it means for you: design for everyday use. Always make sure that users can accomplish their tasks in the most efficient way possible.  Keyboard shortcuts, appropriate navigation and field grouping will help you to achieve this.  A good experience saving each of your employees one minute on a task performed 30 times a day can mean thousands of dollars saved in productivity each year. 

They are knowledgeable users

The fact that employees are captive, everyday users means that they get to know their job very well. Therefore, your design should provide enough guidance for more junior users, without getting in the way of senior employees. Moreover, in larger organizations, there are often groups of employees specialized in addressing the needs of specific lines of business. They need to be considered as well. 

What it means for you: be sure to involve all relevant ranges of employees from all lines of business. This way, your solution will be designed with their specific characteristics in mind.  At the same time, you want to avoid over-designing your solution to address everything you find. Optimizing & standardizing the work across all groups of employees can often be a remedy to existing problems. As a bonus, they can make your system design activities easier. 

They face many different cases

While your digital tools usually cover for the most common scenarios your customers might face, your customer service employees are handling all exceptions.  This means that the systems they use need to support very well exceptions & edge cases to maintain your customer experience level to high standards.  

What it means for you: just as you need to consider all types of employees to design your solution, be sure to identify, analyze & design for all different use cases your users will have to handle. Also, keep in mind that all scenarios don’t have to be supported by a system. Designing manual procedures to handle edge cases is often more cost-effective! In the end, it’s all about making sure that your employees know what to do to accomplish their tasks. 

They use systems in non-linear ways

Working behind the scenes usually involve 80% of “business as usual” activities and 20% of exceptions to handle.  This often translates into the creative use of your systems, which may be ready to support this non-linear way of thinking… or not.  By making your flows & business rules as transparent as possible, you allow users to make quick decisions to work through the 20% remaining and maintain your customer experience. 

What it means for you: allow flexible use of your system by guiding users through the flow, not forcing them. This will give them the flexibility to handle non-standard situations. Moreover, analyze which information is required by your employees to handle their tasks, and make sure that it’s available to them through your design. By doing so, you will empower your employees and make sure they can support your amazing customer experience. 

Making the magic happen with Enterprise User Experience 

I was recently involved in a project in which we applied those principles. Our goal was to design a new platform to allow employees to manage insurance policies through their lifecycle.   

Even though managing insurance policies is not the sexiest thing on Earth, we were able to clearly demonstrate the value of designing for our Enterprise users.  Compared to the previous platform, the overall satisfaction among users went up by 23%; ease of use went up by 26%; perception of efficiency went up by 40%; intuitiveness went up by 59%. 

Enterprise User Experience is not always the easiest path, but it’s clearly worth it.

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Eric Provost

Making sense out of chaos as a BA & UX specialist

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