I LOVE psychology. I love psychology so much that I went out and paid thousands of dollars to get a nice nifty college degree in the subject of psychology. Believe it or not, I try to apply the principles learned in my psychology classes back in my scholarly days to my life today. Maybe all that studying was made for one moment; that moment perhaps being this very blog post…
One of my favorite psychology classes was cognitive psychology – this is the study of mental processes such as attention, language use, memory, perception, problem-solving, and creativity. To put it simply, it is the study of how people think. Within the cognitive psychology class the topic of “cognitive empathy” is discussed. Cognitive empathy is the capacity for a person to understand another’s perspective or mental state. Again, to be simplistic in the definition; this is the old saying “put yourself in another person’s shoes” to try to understand how they feel or perhaps see the world from their personal experience. From a business standpoint, I wholeheartedly believe that empathy should be rooted in the culture of every organization as it can be a game-changer when relating to employees and more specifically, customers.
“The reality is that for business leaders to experience success, they need to not just see or hear the activity around them, but also relate to the people they serve” – Jayson Boyers
I am confident in saying that the most successful businesses past and present are the ones that truly know their customers and have empathy towards them. In the marketing realm, they say that the only marketing strategy you ever need is understanding your customer, this is known as customer-centric marketing. It is within this approach that companies stop trying to tell their customers what they need but instead meet them where they are and craft messaging and content around the unique needs of their customers. You can see the customer-centric business approach time and time again with companies such as Trader Joe’s, Zappos, Netflix and Dollar Shave Club. These companies are obsessed with knowing their customers and being empathetic by providing good customer service, offering personalized experiences, perks and overall quality products. Perhaps it can be assumed that these companies put people before profits in their pursuit to provide top-notch customer experience.
So how can empathy be related to technology? Where does it fit in when it comes to the aspects of a business’s digital transformation? When thinking about businesses, most organizations have established digital entities such as a website or ecommerce platform. When it comes to these digital products, there is an expectancy that people will engage and will use said applications; may they be employees or customers. It is these people that are considered “users” of these digital products and these products should deliver, include, and provide a good user experience. Businesses need to incorporate empathy into their application design and development process to ensure the user’s goals, feelings, actions and motivations are considered. Time and time again, organizations develop digital products with their own goals in mind and often forget about the user; leading to applications that are hard to use, clunky, or provide no real value to the user. When considering the user, how do businesses provide the best digital experience? Here are seven factors to reference before designing a digital application to keep the best user experience in mind (reference from usability.gov):
Is the product useful to the person who is using it? Users will not waste their time with products that don’t help them quickly accomplish their goals.
Is the product effective and efficient for users to accomplish the goal they are trying to achieve by using the product? Overall, is the site or application easy to use?
Content needs to be navigable and locatable onsite and offsite. Is the application easy to find?
Users must believe what the business tells them. The best way to achieve this is through success stories, testimonies, product reviews, etc.
Image, identity, brand and other design elements are used to evoke emotion and appreciation.
When designing an application, businesses need to consider accessibility to those with a limited range of capabilities.
Does the application provide a user experience that is valuable to the user? Does the site or application provide valuable information that the user can reference or eventually use?
“A design study of 408 different companies found that the more a company invested in and focused on design, the more sales they saw, the higher their customer retention and customer engagement was, and the faster they moved through their product cycles. All this simply because they kept UX design, and more importantly, the user, at the very core of their business” – CareerFoundry, The Trillion Dollar UX Problem
So, there you have it. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another can definitely add a tremendous amount of value to any business and can bolster bigger returns for digital applications while creating a positive user experience. One saying that came to mind while I was writing this blog post that is cheesy but still worthwhile, “keep the user in mind before you design.” This simple saying can be well worth remembering when considering user experience. As an example, “ESPN.com revenues jumped 35% after they listened to their community and incorporated suggestions into their homepage redesign.” It is important for organizations to understand who will use their products, how those people will use the product and ultimately how that product adds value.