Looking For a User Experience Expert? Look In The Mirror

By Jeff Hunt, Snap36

Each morning I wake to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and eagerly make my way downstairs to fire up the MacBook. I start my daily online journey exploring the countless stories and pieces of wisdom bestowed by newswires, blogs, tweets and occasional self-proclaimed guru friends who send me their daily soapbox. And, every day, as part of that process, I sift through the overwhelming amount of industry fodder on how to increase conversions, reduce returns, enhance the online user experience and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. How to drive more sales and grow my business. It seems everyone has an angle.

Information overload is now the norm, no longer the exception. We're constantly bombarded with so much information it becomes impossible to keep it all straight. So, it's no wonder many marketers and website owners are enlisting the help of interactive agencies to sort it out. 

While I believe there are many brilliant minds across these agencies that produce unbelievable creative content, I'm also continuously amazed at the lack of confidence extremely qualified, high-level marketers have in deciphering the best ways to address their own customer base. They turn to the help of "experts" when in fact, they may very well be the best case study to follow. Let's face it, if you are a marketer working in an online, ecommerce environment, yet you're not considered a power user or shopper on the Web, you may very well be in the wrong business.

Amazing things can happen when you truly know your customer base and how they measure success. You'll develop better solutions to their problems and understand how to sell to them. Yet, instead of believing you need to immediately enlist the experts to help you get to know what your customers want, first take the time to look inward. Grab your magnifying glass and examine why 'you' bought that pair of shoes on Zappos.com last night, or that great new plasma TV from Abt or the beautiful new outfit from Ann Taylor's website. What inspired you to get to the point of purchase? What led you to have confidence to hit the "buy it now" button? Your answers to those very important questions are the same answers that inspire the masses.  Deep down, we all share many of the same basic instincts when it comes to our online needs: 

  • I want to quickly and easily find what I came for
  • I want the ability to see and experience the product I seek to buy
  • I want to trust in what I'm buying based on my peers and their reviews
  • I want to be ensured a competitive price
  • I want the check-out process to be seamless 

These fundamentals haven't changed in 10 years.  The problem is, we often get distracted by the latest and greatest technologies and trends - mobile, social, virtual and so on - all of which are valid and should be incorporated into long-term planning. But, it is important not to neglect the aforementioned five basic principles when driving toward the ultimate online customer experience.

Not identifying customer needs correctly is like building a house on a weak foundation. But a good builder knows his stuff and draws from his own experiences and subject matter expertise before then consulting with specialists and contractors to help set a solid foundation.

Your customers look to you to understand their requirements. If you don't, you risk losing them for good. So, next time you review your online business offerings to ensure the very best customer experience, first take the time to look in the mirror before consulting with someone who doesn't know your business and customers as well as you do.  Doing so will put you in a good position for building a strong, lasting foundation for success. 

About the Author

Jeffrey Hunt is the founder and principal of Snap36, which provides professional full-service 3D spin photography. Its studio, automated technology, and post-production services make spin photography easy and affordable for retailers to enhance any number of SKUs.