As user experience professionals, we’re always helping our clients assess how their customers really want them to operate.
In the early days of the World Wide Web, that meant coaching users to understand how to navigate hyperlinks. As the Web evolved, we added images and sound. New hardware brought gestures into the mix
, so that we can support taps, swipes, and even the occasional shake.
Now, as new chat and voice interfaces have sprung up alongside “traditional” websites, we’ve thought more about when and how to build all new interaction methods into our businesses. And those methods often mimic the ways that we would have worked with each other to solve problems a hundred years ago.
Choosing the channels that make sense for your business
Picture each new interaction method as a separate storefront you’ve got to manage. If you’re like most business leaders, you probably already manage:
- Your main website
- Social channels
- A customer-facing phone number
- At least one support e-mail queue
If you’re like many of the business owners our team has spoken with over the past ten years, you’re probably already frustrated with one or more of these existing channels. (This is why we’re seeing many companies locking down their social channels to promotion-only and moving support questions over to phone or e-mail.)
And yet, we’re encountering many business owners trying to “be everywhere” by adopting live chat or text message support, especially at companies nervous about converting as much website traffic as possible. Some companies have the teams and skills to pull this off. Most don’t, however. At best, they’re adding some urgency to their sales pipelines at the expense of creating consistently good experiences for all of their customers.
Adding more interfaces to a system that’s already strained isn’t the answer. If you’re considering bolting an AI chatbot onto your website, consider that your customers expect it to be better at its job than a human support agent. And if your support workflow requires chat, those agents should be fully empowered to conduct any piece of business your customer needs. (If not, why bother?)
Exposing the systems underneath your interfaces
It won’t matter how polished your interface is if your business’ underlying systems can’t answer your prospects’ questions or solve customer problems. Moving someone from their preferred mode of communication to something “weird” only pays off if they can effortlessly get the support they need.
If you’re relying on a chatbot to handle critical question-and-answer routines on your website, your marketing copy likely lacks detail or your offer is unclear. But, if that chatbot keeps handing “difficult” conversations over to real people, you’ve just created a new channel that needs constant attention.
Mastering the experience for your preferred channel
That’s why a good user experience audit isn’t just about whether your website user interface looks modern and your page layouts load. Instead, it’s about uncovering anything that keeps your customers from getting their needs met and revealing the elements that could cause them to get frustrated — and take their business elsewhere.
Swapping your primary customer experience over to chat or SMS doesn’t absolve your business from polishing and perfecting your website. (Unless, of course, you’re operating solely by phone or text already — which makes sense for a pizza place but not for most companies.) If anything, acknowledging that your website’s “broken” and you’re serving your customers more effectively with a bolt-on solution underscores the unease with which some prospects are approaching your business.
Fortunately, even if you just want to adopt new chat interfaces because “they’re cool,” auditing and updating your website doesn’t have to be painful. Contact our team today for a complimentary discovery session. We’ll explore your goals and show you how we’ve been helping companies like yours polish their online presence so they can focus on serving their customers.