How Customer feedback is leading Cisco to develop better experiences.
In digital marketing, it can be easy to let our hunches and personal preferences pave the way. But as Cisco Digital Marketing’s New Experiences team has discovered, talking to customers can unveil some pretty amazing things – from finding out what they love, to uncovering pain points, or even to unlocking new innovation paths and dreaming up new tools.
The New Experiences team constantly checks in with customers to ask ‘why’ and to see where customer feedback can lead them. It’s actually how the team’s latest project, the Cybersecurity Newsfeed, a third-party content aggregator got started, built, redesigned, and launched.
Time and time again as the team spoke with customers, a common theme rose to the surface. Customers were frustrated that they needed to monitor several sites and feeds constantly in order to do their buying research and to stay up-to-date on the latest security trends, news, and alerts.
This common theme got the team wondering: was there a way to address this customer frustration head on? This customer-first question kicked off an exciting design thinking projectthat led to the creation of a brand-new website tool,The Cybersecurity News Feed, that pulls in content from third party and Cisco resources, and allows users to filter, share, and even bookmark their favorite articles for later.
Read on to meet our team and learn more about their customer-focused design thinking process that that guides them and be sure to check out the new Cybersecurity News Feed at http://www.cisco.com/go/security-newsfeed.
Lauren Wright is the Customer Researcher on the New Experiences Team. Here, she discusses design thinking, why she loves talking to customers, and how these conversations help the team to unlock innovation.
1. What is design thinking, and why does your team use it?
To me, Tim Brown from IDEO says it best, “Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” There are five essential steps to Design Thinking: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test. On our team, we like to add that, in addition to it being an innovation methodology, it requires a change in mindset too.
2. Why do you find talking to customers so valuable?
Building empathy is the first step in Design Thinking and, in my opinion, the most important one. In order to build empathy, you need to talk and interact with people, to get to know them and their individual perspectives. I absolutely love talking to our customers because I learn so much from them. Talking to them helps me understand their points of view and who they are as a people, as well as their pain points and pleasing moments (with Cisco and with their job). This knowledge and deep understanding is valuable and essential in create improvements to the customer experience.
3. What did you hear from customers that caused you to uncover the need for this type of tool?
When I spoke to customers about their day-to-day and what they do when they’re considering making a purchase, they told me that they spent a lot of time researching. These purchases are important to their jobs and they want to make sure they’re making the right decision. These decisions tend to be complicated, with a lot of moving pieces and parts and more in-depth knowledge is often required. In addition to doing research when making a purchase, our customers need to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in technology. Time, being the scarce resource that it is, and our customers saying they spend a lot of time on researching and staying up to date on trends, we saw a need to create a tool to help customers do their research and stay up-to-date, while saving time – and the Cybersecurity Newsfeed was born!
4. What types of research techniques do you use to get feedback on prototypes along the way?
I primarily use in-depth interviews for getting to know our customers. Once we have built a prototype, I’ll loop back with them to show them the prototype and do more of a usability study (with some follow-up questions). In the future, I would like to do more ethnographic research, and our team is exploring cross-tabulation of quantitative data with our qualitative research.
5. Is there a way for customers to reach out and provide feedback to the team?
Yes, please do! If you’re a past, present, or future Cisco customer, we would love to hear from you. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexa Michael is the UX Designer on the New Experiences Team. Here, she explains why customer feedback is so important to her process, and how it pushes and informs her work.
1. Why is customer feedback so important to you in your design process?
We need lots of detailed feedback feedback from customers – pre–release and post-release, in the form of qualitative and quantitative testing so that we can prove or disprove our assumptions about the project.
2. What did you learn throughout this project that you’ll integrate into your design approach next time?
I learned that having customer research support is extremely helpful (shout out to Lauren!), especially as a newcomer on a new project. I also learned a lot from the A/B Testing team about methodology and the importance of rigorous testing in order to deliver the best possible product to customers.
My biggest takeaway from this project is that the key to successful user design comes from an iterative process of listening to customers and tweaking the design approach, based on real-time feedback–which we did with the Cybersecurity Newsfeed. Next time, we plan to explore a scientific design approach where we start with tons of ideas, eliminate less-promising ones, and eventually throw our arsenal behind the most credible ideas. Once we have our winning ideas, I’d love to go even further and conduct usability testing to explore various design solutions, examining user behavior closely. These measure will help us pinpoint a variety of user problems and improve our outputs. My personal challenge as a designer will be balancing the need for rigorous testing with the need to move quickly and efficiently.
Christina Wong is an OmniChannel Manager on the New Experiences Team. Here, she discuss the questions that she sought to answer in her testing approach, the insights that the results unlocked, and if testing is ever really done.
1. What were the main questions you were trying to answer in your testing approach?
Once the feed was built, we began our testing to see how our customers interacted with it ‘in the wild’. While a feed seemed super useful and interesting to us, we needed to see how it would impact someone’s usual routine on the site. Observing user behavior with the feed on various places on Cisco.com led to new learnings regarding user intent, content desirability, and the level of customer engagement with the tool. We also ran multiple tests to discover if the tool would inspire repeat return visits to Cisco.com. Gaining insights from our testing has helped us to continuously iterate and improve the feed for our customers. The great thing is that our work isn’t done. There is always more to learn from how our customers naturally interact with the site.
2. What key insights did you discover during A/B testing of the tool?
Before we launched, customers told us that they wanted the Cybersecurity News Feed to have content from third party resources, not just Cisco-authored content. They told us that they wouldn’t trust the feed if it didn’t support outside perspectives from the security industry, in addition to Cisco thought leadership. Knowing this, we implemented several 3rd party news sources based on the recommendations of our customers. When the Cybersecurity News Feed was implemented, it was exciting and validating to see that our highest engaging content source was one that was recommended by customers, with Cisco Security Alerts and Twitter posts with the next highest interaction. We also observed that while users engaged with the feed, and that its addition caused more return visits to Cisco.com overall, users did not re-engage with the tool on their return visits. This was very interesting to see and we want to continue doing testing and customer research to learn more and discover the right placement and design that increases engagement on return visits.
3. Is testing done now that the tool has been launched?
Nope! We will continue to iterate on this feed on both a design and functionality level, whether the feedback comes from customer interviews or A/B testing metrics. It’s just the beginning for the Cybersecurity News Feed and we can’t wait to continuously improve the tool so it’s useful and a must-have resource for our customers!
To learn more and get involved, email Cxlab@cisco.com. We’d love to hear from you, and to add your feedback to our design thinking process for current and future projects.