Competitive UX benchmarking is not only insightful, but a secret weapon that you can use to raise the profile of research within your organisation.
Benchmarking digital experiences against those of your key competitors at scale (i.e. 100+ participants) is a great way to measure and improve UX through:
… all good reasons to run a benchmark. But, there are other “softer” reasons to run benchmarking studies, that will help you raise the profile of UX and increase your influence.
If you’re lucky enough to work in an organisation that is very mature when it comes to UX (e.g. if you cut the MD they bleed user insight) then there’s probably not much point reading on. For everyone else, here are three ways that wielding UX benchmarks has helped others raise the profile of research and increased their influence.
Senior managers live and breath metrics and measurement. They are also obsessed with beating competitors.
Sharing UX insight in the (metric) terms they are familiar for your own digital experiences vs competitors is a sure fire way to grab their attention – more so than a hefty report from your latest Lab sessions.
Take a look at the images below (taken from a report benchmarking four airlines) – they clearly demonstrate how to present UX insight to senior managers who have no innate knowledge of research.
This type of presentation often provoke questions like “What are we doing about it?” and “Why is that?” which are exactly the types of questions we need to senior managers to be thinking about – they’re starting to ask real research questions!
Measure UX and prove the value of research
Competitors’ UX can be a blind spot – without proper benchmarking senior people make sweeping statements about them:
“They’ve got this nailed, we need to be more like them”
“Nobody will use their new site, it’s too plain.”
By listening to these uninformed hunches (or hypotheses if we’re being kind) it’s all too easy to become distracted, misdirected and ultimately annoyed by inaccurately following/avoiding a competitor’s design. And that’s where running a benchmark on key user journeys comes to the rescue.
Allowing your organisation to compare competitor experiences through the only eyes that matter – your customers’ (and not yours and not your bosses).
Look at the two images below that objectively compare the paths people take and their success rates when attempting the same task on two different airlines’ sites. Insight presented in this convincing way, and at scale, helps eradicate hunch-based opinions of competitors’ experiences.
I have even known senior managers at two retailers (who shall remain nameless) both reference one another’s site as being an “exemplar” and “what we aspire to.”
Of course, running a competitor benchmark study won’t change your organisation to becoming customer centred overnight. But it can help you remind colleagues that those key journeys that matter to customers are still the key journeys that must be optimised with users in mind. Taking your collective eyes off these, and focussing on the latest tech innovation, is unlikely to improve UX as much as senior managers hope.
This quote from a Research Manager I know sums it up quite nicely:
“Site search, used by a third of visitors has delivered a pretty poor experience ever since I joined. But, rather than fix this, we’re introducing new personalisation technology because our senior team have been wooed by a big tech firm. What’s the point if you can’t even find what you want?”
Benchmarking key user journeys or top tasks (e.g. search, menus, filters etc for retailers) can help remind senior managers that these still need to work for real people, and that the latest tech could prove a distraction.
This is also a good time to combine benchmark metrics with video snippets that bring customer frustration from real people into focus. Like this example: