Baptiste Debever avatar
by Baptiste Debever on 12 Mar, 2019 ~8 minutes read

“Strive for user-centricity.”

“Listen to your customers.”

We have all heard that, at least once. But what is this noise all about?

No matter the stage your business is at, turning it into the one of user-centered companies will go a long way. However, it can not only 10X your results but also sustain long-term relationships with your users. Let’s break that down with some real-life examples.

What is the user-centered approach?

What does it mean to be user-centric? How come some companies have amazing reviews and fans, while others struggle to engage their few users.

First, to brush things up.

Being user-centered is not only about the design, as the User-Centric Design framework claims. It is also about listening to the users and constantly evolving with your users.

ux-loop-user-centered-companies

User-Centered Approach by UX Planet

Don’t get me wrong, it is always about providing a top-notch customer-experience worth remembering. How do I access the information easily and get the thing I want with the least amount of resistance?

Actually, it is most importantly about creating value for your users. You have to focus on the end user’s needs and wants. As the saying goes: “focus on the end user, and everything else will follow…”

Zest.is is one of the user-centered companies I truly admire. They solve a true pain point (How to access relevant marketing-related material) by encouraging other users to contribute and curate content for them.

I recall a Growth Everywhere podcast interview with Yam Regev, Zest’s co-founder, where he explained how and why he was still personally connecting with every single new user, no matter the stage they are at.

A user-centered approach is also about personalization and care.
— Yam Regev, CEO and Co-Founder of Zest

The best part?

user-centered-companies-zest

They send a personal and funny confirmation email. And i love it!

Listen to the users’ needs first

You got it. Building user-centered companies is about being personal but also being proactive. You don’t want your users to come to you and tell you about something they would like.

I’m not saying it’s bad. But I’d rather advise you to go, one step forward, and ask how you could make your customers’ lives easier.

Listen to the users needs, support and act.

On a final note, being user-centric is also about applying customer-success principles. Customer-success is on the verge, satisfaction metrics are closely watched. And there is a reason for that.

user-centered-customer-success-stats

_Results of the _customer success survey_ by Feedier

As a rule of thumb, always be one step ahead of your users and customers. Ensure they get the best ROI from their investment in your product and you will go a long way.

At Userpilot, as soon as prospect becomes az customer or paid user, I write a customized email to reach out to them to understand why they bought Userpilot, testing what would be the best pricing for them, and understanding what content do they need to become power users. This 30-minute call gives me more insights than anything else. I actively seek feedback from each customer. This is my biggest growth hack, learning from users and talking to them to understand their pain-point. I also try to understand what features they’d like to have to build our roadmap and how it makes their job easier.

You can also go one step further and build the roadmap with your users, ask them to vote for the future of your product. They will feel even more into the product.

Transparency and privacy by design

IAB Europe - a leading European-level industry association for online advertisers - recently published a research report stating that 67% of European would like to know where their data is being used, and for what reason.

This is simply to confirm that your users want transparency. They want to know where you are going with your product, but also what you are doing with their data.

If you are collecting feedback from them, tell them what you are going to do with the data and how it’s going to be incorporated into the roadmap.

How to become one of the user-centered companies?

The first step to becoming user-centric is to define the corporate strategy and communicate it across the board.

How to define the strategy?

First, you want to answer this simple question: what are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to strengthen your relationship with your users? Do you want to build more loyalty? Do you want to better understand your target persona?

You don’t have to abide by every single principle from the user-centricity definition I gave you earlier. Zero in on what resonates with your brand.

Whichever priority you go for, you eventually want to gather the insight you need to understand your users’ wants, so you can provide the best answer and build lasting bonds.

Once you have identified this strategy, the next step is to define goals. Those goals must resonate with the strategy, and be SMART.

What do I mean by SMART?

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time-Based. We will be looking at the overall strategy, and how to achieve the expected accomplishments.

Done? Awesome!

It’s time to communicate with the team. You want everyone to be on the same line, after all.

Implement the first iteration.

Once you have identified the priorities, it’s time to test, measure and iterate. It’s not a science, you won’t see 10X growth just because you started being more proactive.

But you can see stellar improvements by iterating and figuring out what is working best for you and your customers. It is all about building a feedback loop and closing the loop with your customers.

user-centered-companies-feedback-loop

Feedier’s feedback loop

In fact, this principle has been inspired by The Lean Startup book (by Eric Ries). The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.

The idea is to get back to the “act” step as quickly as possible after learning from the marketplace.

How do we act?

I mentioned that you need to create a loop. But what do you practically put in place?

The first thing to do is to consolidate the insights you already have, which is the first iteration of your loop. In order to achieve that, you collect feedback and measure satisfaction.

Then, go out there and ask your clients some more questions. Create a quick feedback form, embed it inside the app and give them a nice bounty for spending some time to help you. Feedier works well for that.

If you have more time to allocate to this project, you can conduct user interviews in parallel.

Create empathy maps

To summarize all the data you have about your users and run your first iterations of the loop, I’d advise you to work with empathy maps. They help you understand the user journey and what emotions is the user going through at each step of the journey. Miro (Realtimeboard) is a great tool for that.

You can then prioritize the actions in your team, implement the first changes and let your users know about them. Then, you collect the feedback and work backward again.

When collecting the feedback, make sure to work with all members and all customer-facing teams in your company. They have all different information and different insights as to how the user is feeling about your product.

Make everyone accountable, share the feedback with your team. For instance, you can set up a Slack report that pulls in the most recent feedback and shares them with the team.

Bonus: User-centered companies examples

Tim Suolo from Ahrefs shared in a recent article how they achieve 60% growth Year on Year and hit $40M ARR without any outside investment by listening to their customers.

This is exactly how industry leaders like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook found success: They poured the majority of their early resources into building unprecedented products and services — not trendy growth hacks — that generated “word of mouth” advertising.
— Tim Suolo

WisePops is another great example of the user-centered companies. It grew from 0 to 50K in MRR without outside investment.

They’re a bootstrapped company that offers a website popup software. For 3 years the company’s team included only one CEO and one developer. Together, they reached $50,000 MRR.

How?

We held as many 1-to-1 demos as possible, we installed a live chat on our website to collect questions and feedback in real-time, we discussed with 1000s of customers by email and focused on the features that our users were requesting (not the one that would generate direct revenue in the short-term).
— Greg d'Aboville, Head of Growth at WisePops

user-centered-companies-nps-trend

WisePops’ NPS went from 32 to 47 after we released a major update based on customer’s feedback.

In a nutshell, turning your company into a user-centered one is a simple - yet often neglected - strategy that has the potential to take your it to a new level.

Now, on to you. What have you been doing that made your company more user-centric?

Hero image by José Alejandro Cuffia on Unsplash.

About the author:
Baptiste Debever avatar

Baptiste Debever

Baptiste Debever is the co-founder and Head of Growth of Feedier.com, a software helping companies collect better feedback by offering a gamified and attractive user experience.

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