When most people think of UX, they usually think of a designer creating an aesthetically pleasing interface on a digital screen. This is definitely part of UX, but user experience encompasses a whole lot more.
To follow Nielsen Norman Group’s summarized definition of user experience, a “user experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
The key points here are all aspects with the company, services, and its products.
“User experience is more than just a digital interface.”
In other words, for product and UX designers, there are other aspects you can focus on besides what the user sees. To some this is venturing into the territory of service design, which is improving and streamlining the experience behind the scenes. However, I consider this within the user experience realm. By improving the “backstage” and improving the employees’ experience you will in turn improve the users’ experience—whether that be through a customer service call, logistics, or a digital screen.
Related: User research isn’t too expensive
In my example, I’ll walk you through how I used user research to streamline our process, decrease company costs, and improve service scalability, which ultimately increases business value… all in the name of user experience.
Our company is a digital mobile ad tech company taking advantage of the increasing digital advertising budgets. In other words, while traditional advertising channels are losing advertising budgets, we’re capitalizing on the increase in digital advertising spend.
However, when a company brings in a lot of revenue at a very fast pace this usually means the cost to service that revenue also increases very quickly. These increasing costs could be very noticeable, like hiring additional employees or paying for an online service to help service that additional revenue.
There are also hidden costs, for example, like the internal processes becoming so inefficient that the time to service that revenue is actually more costly than the revenue it brings in. It’s like you’re bringing in $90 of revenue but it costs you $100 to manage it.
In other words, you’re losing money.
In addition, our internal users were spread so thin managing all the mobile ad campaigns that our clients’ experience was suffering.
“Use analytics to help determine what to work on next.”
We had to prepare for an influx of increased revenue so that we could:
- A) Service all our campaigns
- B) Service all our clients
So, we needed to increase our efficiency and were tasked with decreasing our mobile campaign setup time by 25%.
Before working on this challenge, it would take an account manager approximately 9 minutes and 12 seconds (552 seconds) to set up a campaign. We needed to get the campaign setup time to 6 minutes and 54 seconds (414 seconds) in order to reach our 25% goal.
The theory is we will decrease the cost to service the incoming revenue to a point where we can bring on more revenue with minimizing the increase of cost—this is essentially economies of scale. This will also give our internal users more time to service these mobile ad campaigns so that they perform better.
And not only that, account managers would rather spend their time giving clients insightful feedback rather than tedious setup work.
Happy employees equal happy clients.
How we tackled the challenge
To start, we learned every step our account managers took from start to finish. We sat with them, watched them, and talked with them. After understanding their process we had a general idea of what took the most time and where we could make immediate improvements: setting up campaigns.
So, we sat down and watched our account managers set up all types of campaigns and timed every single interaction they took. We timestamped every click and analyzed over 30 interactions and categorized the different interactions.
Now we had established analytics for our campaign setup time and found out what types of campaigns were being set up the most.
In addition to this, we analyzed and organized the campaigns that made up a bulk of the revenue.
How we decided what to improve
We couldn’t build features to improve every interaction, so we focused on the 80/20 of where users spent the most time and looked at the interactions that took the longest.
Half of these enhancements were building automations to auto-populate the most commonly used fields and the other half were UI enhancements to make these interactions faster and easier for our power user account managers.
After implementing the updates it was time to see if we achieved our goal.
We did not achieve our 25% goal
After releasing all the enhancements, we had to time the campaign setups again and noticed that we decreased campaign setup time from 9 minutes and 12 seconds (552 seconds) to 2 minutes and 36 seconds (156 seconds).
That means we decreased campaign setup time by over 71%!
One very cool byproduct of these enhancements and automations was that it led us to a future feature that would further enhance the experience. That enhancement was automating campaigns to start, run, and finish on their own.
In other words, our system would automatically receive a campaign, set it up to run, and finish on its own. Our account managers didn’t have to do anything for a campaign to start, run, and finish.
What was UX’s ROI on this project?
Okay, so we achieved automation and scale with our services so that we can provide a better experience to our clients and spend time optimizing our campaigns to perform better.
But what about the actual numbers?
I’ll write out an example that simulates our real-life scenario.
Let’s take the senior account manager job salary of $75,000 here in Los Angeles (according to Glassdoor). Now let’s say we had four account managers who could manage up to 100 campaigns a month, with each campaign worth about $3,000.
Over a year, it’d cost us $300,000 to support $14,400,000 per year of revenue.
Now let’s say that the 71% of time saved for campaign setups means each account manager can now support up to 166 campaigns.
This means our UX improvements allow the same number of employees to manage an additional 66% of revenue without increasing costs. Our initial four account managers can now manage up to $23,904,000 per year instead of the original $14,400,000 per year.
Moral of the story
User experience design encompasses all aspects of the company, services, and its products. Remember to take into consideration the improvement of the “backstage” and use analytics to help you determine what to work on next.
Applied correctly, UX design can directly improve the financials, the operation, and, of course, the overall experience.
Michael is Head of User Experience at Gimbal in Los Angeles, California. He has founded and advised several companies ranging from one of the most popular social apps in the iTunes store to the most used hospice software in the country. He loves turning ideas into tangible working products and believes in a holistic user experience that also includes elements outside the confinements of just the digital screen. He has helped companies like Grindr, Honda, EXOS, MC & Saatchi, Daily Associates, Ohio State University, HCHB, DivX, and Entertainment Arts. Michael has taught at UCLA and Cal State Long Beach and received his BA from UC Irvine.