Names of world-class B2C apps pop out when we think of user experience (UX). Customer obsession, experimentation, tracking every view & click to continuously iterate is a quintessential part of the life of a B2C product team. On the contrary, for a B2B product team, the focus is always given on the completion of functionality.
Functionality is more important than CX for B2B Products- Is it true?
Let us start by asking ourselves 2 simple questions:
Who is our customer?
We often fall into the trap of believing that business partners/business SPOCs who have helped us to build our products are our customers. This is seldom true. Most of the time, these B2B or internal products are used by staff who work on these products without any form of direct formal training. They use our products, unassisted and unguided like how a normal B2C customer downloads and uses any B2C app. So, focusing on UX of B2B products to enable self-learning becomes as crucial as any B2C product.
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Are our real end customers obliged to use our products?
Even though as B2B product managers, we would like to believe it, but in reality, it is far from being the truth. Often our end users will have some or the other legacy system which they have been used to since ages, and thus, our product will have a great ordeal to grow through before they begin to get adopted. Moreover, we should be aware that their KRAs are linked to their task completion goals, not how much they adopt our tools/products. So, even in our case, it becomes inevitable that we treat our B2B products as B2B2C products and focus on acquisition & engagement aspects like how a B2C team does.
In the present world, there are so many B2B products available in the market which not only help our business partners achieve their business goals but also provide a great user experience. Thus, the historical lines drawn while designing & building B2B and B2C products stand blurred in present times. So, if we can solve the complex business problems in the most user friendly way, it may work wonders.
4 Core UX values that every B2B product should have:
- Consistency-Learn once Use Everywhere
Consistency does not just mean using the same colour and font style, but it also focusses on the accessibility of information and links. Every module/sub-module of your B2B product should provide the same experience. The placement of links and buttons, navigation & interaction experience, the application of filters & other elements should have one consistent behavior.
2. Modularization- Show only what is a need.
Bucketing of information is extremely important in a B2B context where the features sometimes become very complex. Exposing all information (all reports/ all dashboards, all fields) to the user on a single page load may make our product unnecessarily difficult to be comprehended. It will just prolong the learning curve of users. Moreover, bucketing information takes care of the loading speed as well.
3. Access Control-Persona & feature mapping
There are many business divisions in the customer’s organization. In a single function also, there can be various levels. For eg an admin might have access to all the features, but a viewer may have access to limited modules. So, while chalking out the vision of our product & modularisation of features, we should keep the provision of enabling access control always in mind. This helps in keeping the functionalities logically separate based on usage.
4. Product Nudges- An invisible guide to train users
Usage of helper texts, info bubbles, contextual FAQs against features, short training videos embedded in relevant sections across our application can help the users to learn fast in an absolutely unguided & non-intrusive way.
Track the user experience journey. Embed view and click events like how any B2C product does.
We build products for humans, whether they come directly to us as a B2C customer or as a Business customer, it hardly changes the equation. Let us continue building products that our customers love to use and not forced to use. Cheers!