May 15, 2013
This probably both dates me and marks me as a bit of a nerd, but I like the 80s movie “Tron.” If you have not seen it, the movie is about a guy who gets transported from our world to inside the software world of a computer.
From the perspective of the real world, Tron is a security program written to block malicious programs from accessing and stealing data. Inside the computer system, Tron is personified and is a hero. Why? Because, as he puts it, he “fights for the users!”
As one of the people who designs the user experiences found in the PeopleMatter Platform, my job is to put the user first. I approach any change or new feature by asking, “How will this impact our users?” I strive to think, not about how I would use our website, but how the user would. My personal goal is to be Tron and fight for our users as we continue to build the Platform.
In the design world, we have many tools to help us stay focused on our audience — though none of them are quite as cool as the light cycles and discs from Tron. The user experience of a website parallels the customer experience of guests in the service industry. With this in mind, it is possible for you to take some of the tools we use to keep ourselves focused on the users and turn them into tools you can use to help your team provide great experiences in the real world for your customers.
Storyboards are an excellent way to walk through how users will use our product and identify their motivations. Rather than just writing it out in words, you draw it. You start by defining the problem, then identify the solution and recap the benefits. Even drawing a simple stick figure goes a long way to help visualize a problem and solution.
Storyboards are also an excellent opportunity for training your team members. If a picture is worth a thousand words, you could easily transform your text-heavy, new-hire training manual into something visual. This has the added bonus of being easily referenced on the go.
If you are worried about having to draw things yourself, then have your team do it. Not only are your employees more likely to retain the information after drawing a storyboard, but it will help you to quickly identify potential misunderstandings long before they make their way to your customers.
Once we have a feature close to ready, it is incredibly helpful to take it and put it in front of people for them to test drive. While watching someone use one of your designs for the first time can be very humbling, it is an absolutely fantastic learning experience. One of the interesting things about usability testing is that you do not necessarily need an actual user. Someone who has not seen the feature — like a new hire — can stand in just as easily.
You can take the idea of usability testing and apply it to the service industry by putting your teams in role-playing situations. This is a great way to have both new and experienced team members work through different customer scenarios. Just like with usability testing, your team can role-play with each other, with one person standing in for the customer. This gives the added bonus of both people having the opportunity to learn from the role-play experience.
Fighting For Your Customers
Nothing is more powerful for your business than customers who walk away feeling great about the experience your team provides. To do so, you need team members who can handle both the good and the bad with confidence. The tools discussed in this post can help take great hires and turn them into great employees. Employees that will be your very own Trons — fighting for your customers.