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Error Reduction, Productivity Increased, Customer Satisfaction: Usability the Amazing Solution to Business Problems

Maureen McVey, CBAP
 
Determining the root cause of a business issue is one of the activities that the business analyst engages in. We do this through process analysis, reviewing metrics, business rules analysis, observation and conducting interviews among other things. Many issues such as customer satisfaction, production errors, and a dip in sales could reside in the user interface. 
 
Here are just a few examples of real business issues encountered by real users:
 
  • There were 200 calls to the help desk every day since the new expense reporting tool was launched. The business analyst reviewed the issue ticket report discovering that 95% of the calls were related to the entry into the manger field. The system requires the user to enter the manager’s “last name, comma, first name” which is not how someone would naturally enter a name. The data solution would cost too much, but a simple instruction on the entry page provided guidance to the user. 
  • It was taking the insurance administrators three hours to review and analyze a customer claim. The business analyst observed six administrators and determined that the volume of information, crowded pages, and small font was slowing them down. A redesign of the pages ensuring the flow of the information mimicked the natural flow of the claim process, reducing the processing time by one hour. 
  • To address the high-volume of customer complaints about the reservation system, the business analyst interviewed randomly chosen customers to better understand the issues. The top complaint was the time it was taking to complete the reservation form. One customer made a workable suggestion: “Why can’t the system just auto populate my information? I have a frequent flyer number – can’t that information be used to populate the form?” 
  • Sales were dropping after the launch of the new online catalogue and order system. During an interview with the business analyst, a customer stated, “Shopping online is great, so convenient. But when shopping on your website, I searched for my product, chose the quantity, and entered my address, including country. Upon choosing a shipping method an error message appeared advising that the product could not be shipped to my country.” Needless to say, he didn’t purchase the product. Upon review of the process and business rules it turned out the certain products could not be shipped to certain countries. Including information about shipping restrictions and alternative products on the product page allowed the customer to make informed decisions prior to going through a process that resulted in frustration.
 
Who would have thought that a few small changes to the user interface could make such a big difference and help the business achieve its objectives and goals? Include user interface and knowledge of user experience (UX) into your business analysis toolkit. 
 
Visit the IIBA® Online Library to find out more about UX and metrics. Check out the UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience by Rex Hartson and Pardha S. Pyla, Chapter 10: UX Goals, Metrics, and Targets.