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InícioUSER EXPERIENCEWhat is Business Empathy?

What is Business Empathy?

Hint: You need it to design digital products

In the context where businesses have recognized the value of UX design as part of building successful digital products and great businesses, it is no longer the question of “Do we need to hire designers”.

As someone who interacts with many young designers & students who are starting their journey, the common question I now get is…” What do designers do in a company”.

Do they…

Conduct research with usersDeliver designs made in FigmaMake products user friendly & easyReduce the number of clicksMake the digital product more aesthetically pleasing

The real answer of course is…” It depends”…for each company tends to use designers differently. In some companies it may be for strategic work, in some, it could be crafting customer experience, and in some, it is purely executing what is sketched for you on paper. I digress… let’s get back on topic.

Let’s talk about the term usability or user-friendly. Commonly used terms that both businesses and designers feel are the end value of doing digital design work. Is it all about just making things easier?…so if we make the product easier what would happen? Would it ensure that the business would see the impact on their revenue or bottom line?… maybe not.

Making things easier or reducing clicks does not give certainty of business success. Users still may not onboard, perform transactions, sign up for offerings, or want to pay you just because the experience of using the product is easy.

It is very critical to understand that designers are not in the business of making things “user friendly”

Designers craft experiences that create behaviors that achieve business outcomes. You are in the business of creating or changing behavior to drive business numbers. To be able to craft such business-centric behavior what does it take?

You need “Business Empathy”

Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

While most product teams hail “User empathy” as the secret sauce, to make products user-friendly & successful…The critical ingredient may be ‘Business empathy’. The ability to influence user behavior to create business outcomes lies within the unique context of the business you are building the product. This ability to understand each business’s unique context is called business empathy.

Some critical questions to ask to build ‘business empathy’

What customer types are you trying to influence?What is your unique value to these customer types?How exactly do you make or save money in this context?How does the market landscape look in terms of your approach to these customers vs how competition is attacking them?What do you know is already going to happen in the near future and how are you strategically placed to respond?What objective are you trying to achieve agnostic of the envisioned digital product?How do you think you will win?

Focus on Key Desired Behaviors (KDBs)

Photo by Anthony Fomin on Unsplash

For businesses to win the next critical ingredient is ‘Key Desired Behaviors’. Businesses are built on behaviors that they can manifest and thus make money off of. These desired behaviors may or may not be natural to the target customers and this requires careful strategies to actually create them.

The ability to create a behavior always stems from understanding existing ‘Real Behavior…but how?

We must conduct user research! because that is the genesis of understanding human behavior and the possibilities of how we may influence the same. This is definitely, a critical piece since our ability to influence behavior lies very clearly within the context of existing behavior. Observing their natural conduct and exploring what could possibly trigger, motivate, and then finally create behavior is key. Focus on…

What are your customers actually doing and not just saying?What part of their natural behavior presents an opportunity for you to trigger and then create additional behaviors that benefit you?What behaviors do you need to influence or create to succeed?

Strategy with applied psychology & ergonomics

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

Once the KDBs are identified and you have significant clarity on the real behaviors within which these would lie…create your strategy.

Craft and imagine an experience…a storyboard if you may. That would describe how the user within their real behavior would get started & deliver the KDB. What tools in your ergonomics or psychology arsenal would you use to create this?

Trigger: It starts with a clear trigger within real behavior which would catch the customer’s interest, create intrigue, and seed an idea.

Build up: To take the customer deeper, a layer of tools could be used to raise motivation levels to cross the threshold of creating behavior.

Pressure: Building motivation brings the customer to a crescendo but does not create the urgency of ‘Now’. What tools would you use to drive the user to perform the KDB at the moment, preventing them from deferring the act or how would you ensure that they would perform the same in a relevant moment later?

Imagine all this coming together, like a movie director…imagining and crafting each moment to create a desired emotion and end effect. Agnostics of channels, UI, & technology… it’s about defining how the KDB would manifest across touchpoints and not about sketching a UI flow needed to stitch together an app.

Bringing it to life with Technology

Photo by RAFA HANSEN on Unsplash

Post testing & iterating your strategy through prototypes and other constructs, it’s time to build the touchpoints. Focus on how you would enable each touchpoint across surfaces rather than crafting together information architectures & enabling navigation.

Each touchpoint will require the right front-end and back-end technologies to enable the experience. Keeping an eye on ROI is key as it may not be practical to implement AI-based or high-investment solutions. Critical to not get carried away with the trending technology…so if AI is cool…everything about your experience design can’t be AI.

Ask the following critical questions…

to enable these touchpoints do I need a multi-channel, omni-channel, or cross-channel strategy?What all surfaces & modalities will work in tandem to deliver the experience?What part will you enable through AI, UI, Object, Or Human?Given the tech stack availability, what is the practicality of the implementation? In terms of cost & GTM?Photo by Mehdi Sepehri on Unsplash

As a quick summary…

As a designer, you will be bombarded with philosophies on ‘Ease of Use’ or UX optimization. It is quite easy to lose focus and drive away from the clear purpose of how you are helping businesses succeed. So remember…

Designers craft experiences that create behaviors that achieve business outcomes.Develop ‘Business Empathy’ to define the context in which you have to winIdentify the KDBsCreate strategies with applied psychology & ergonomics to create the KDBsBring strategies to life with technology, pragmatically

What is Business Empathy? was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.