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Reshaping the narrative: why tech needs to understand the ‘language’ of the customer to build the solutions needed

Written by Matt Hillier, Executive Vice President, Product at CloudPay

Several years ago, tech experts – myself included – faced the challenge of getting business leaders and decision-makers to understand the intricate details of the new solutions and products that we were developing – jargon became a key predictor of success. So often, we hear that those in the C-Suite need to better appreciate the language of technology to ensure they were making truly informed purchasing decisions.

Fast forward to today and the narrative has shifted to us as technology experts needing to better speak the language of the end-consumer and, perhaps more importantly, feed this into the User Experience (UX) Design.

The rise of UX

We’ve witnessed the rise of UX Design as demand from our consumer base has increased for user-friendly products and solutions. Technology plays a more integral part of our daily lives on a personal and professional basis, which has driven the need for greater innovation and, subsequently, the rapid growth of easily accessible consumer-focused technology.

The key to UX design though, lies in the ability to produce software that better speaks the language of the target audience and provides a more intuitive link between the technology and people by more prominently focusing on the user experience. Technology terminology plays an important role in driving collaboration between development teams and acts as a common language between developers and builders. However, the additional connection between the tech and the end-user is a pivotal point that can dictate the difference between success and failure, not necessarily in the right software or product design, but rather in the buy-in from businesses and consumers.

Teams who can bridge the language of the audience and the technical world have a large advantage over those who don’t. We see this playing out in tech across a range of specialisms, where friendly and approachable software that resonates with the audience outstrips more technically competent products that are more feature-rich or mature. We also can’t ignore the fact that businesses buy-in to solutions that match their view of the world and how they think about it.

Unfortunately, all too often some technologists can fall into the habit of trying to push technically correct terminology onto the customer as these terms and concepts align better with architectures and best practices. However, for those who do take this approach, it increasingly alienates stakeholders and users, making it harder for them to identify how the software is trying to solve the problems they see as users.

We also shouldn’t ignore the fact that users who clearly understand the solution also become stronger advocates and promoters, providing more valuable feedback to software teams on a longer-term basis, which will only aid innovation in the field.

Understanding the user

While difficult to achieve, the ubiquity of technology has made it more important than ever that software teams better understand their end-users, as people will gravitate to software that makes them “feel smart” for picking and using your solution. Perhaps more importantly, though, this is fully achievable. At CloudPay as we’ve evolved our approach and appreciation for the end-user experience, the smoother introducing tech innovation into the world of payroll has become, and the greater impact we have been able to have on our users

In our experience, one of the most powerful tools for understanding where customer-benefit comes from lies in hearing their stories. These bring to life the statistics, telemetry and user behaviours that we see in analysis, in a way that the data can’t explain. Statistics only show what the user did, rather than why they did it. Being able to explain and discuss customer stories with development teams creates an environment for innovative thinking and empathy with your users which is crucial for innovation.

Gathering this insight does require greater collaboration with other divisions who are more directly involved with, and connected to, the customer, particularly given the pace of change in consumer attitudes and preferences today. Building upon modern design thinking and inclusive pilot testing with a diverse range of demographics is also needed to ensure the user experience is relevant for multiple audiences. Tools for designers and software teams have leapt-forward in recent years, providing some of the best opportunities to visualise and validate ideas before any code is written, which can be a game-changer in both success and efficiency for teams willing to adopt. Supported with clear communication channels for feedback will further ensure that valuable insight is fed into software updates, once again helping to improve the UX Design.

However, what I would add is that for those without UX experience or in-house resources currently, investing in UX design experts and allowing them to be key decision makers is crucial. Yes, they will challenge tech teams, but your users will reward it.

It’s also important to ensure that agility is built into conversations and design. Finding a language that allows UX development to take on a life of its own, can enable a quicker build and an earlier pilot. Being able to connect with users and feed the information back into the design will enable you to develop features and capabilities that are more impactful.

UX design is only going to grow in value in the future. For technologists, now is the time to really become fluent in the language of your users. We should all see it as a superpower of the whole team, not just a burden that customer-facing teams have to carry.