Andrew Ou is an award-winning UX strategist, designer and author based in Vancouver, BC. He helps SaaS companies increase their revenue and profitability by reducing cost of support and while building a better customer experience. His past clients include HSBC, Rosetta Stone, and Asurion.
- Can you share in your owns words, a little bit about your journey, how did you get to where you are today?
- Now, customer experience, SaaS products, support services, can you share with us maybe some trends that you see emerging or have emerged since 2022 as it relates to this part of service delivery or customer experience?
- From a UX strategy point of view if you’re building a product, how does the client or the customer travel through the journey that you are taking them through in a digital way, while still holding all of the same principles and values that you would if it was a face to face interaction, or even over the phone? So, how can we translate that in a positive way? And if it’s not done positively? Why would it impact our revenue and profitability?
- One of the other things that we do get asked a lot is, how can we reduce the cost of customer support? So, what’s one way? Would the strategy, putting something in place that eradicates that complaint from coming forward again be one way to reduce customer support? And are there any other ways?
- Could you also share with our audience maybe I would say 1 to 3 tips that you believe will help organizations build a better customer experience?
- Could you also share with our audience what’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
- Could you also share with us maybe one or two books that you have read, it could be a book that you read recently, or maybe one that you read a very long time ago, but it has had a big impact on you.
- Could you also share with us what’s one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about? Either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people.
- Where can listeners find you online?
- Do you have a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you will tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to get you back on track if for any reason you got derailed or you got off track.
Me: So, we always like to give our guests the opportunity to share in their own words, a little bit about their journeys. So, how did you get to where you are today? I know we read like a brief bio, but it’s always good to get in guests own words, a little bit about their own journey.
Andrew shared that he started off in UX design, he’s been doing that for he thinks over around 8 to 10 years now. And like Yanique mentioned, he used to work for companies like HSBC, Asurion and fit brains Rosetta Stone. And now he’s just sort of running his own consultancy where he helps SaaS founders build beautiful products that impact the world. And a lot of that has to do with creating an excellent customer journey and a good customer experience.
Customer Experience, SaaS Products, Support Service – Trends Emerging Since 2022 as it Relates to Service Delivery and Customer Experience
Me: Now, customer experience, SaaS products, support services, can you share with us maybe some trends that you see emerging or have emerged since 2022 as it relates to this part of service delivery or customer experience?
Andrew shared that he thinks there’s a very interesting intersection between customer experience and user experience, mainly that, both of the words and with experience and so it’s a very interesting intersection, because they sort of do affect each other. And a lot of the overarching trend is that we’re always moving towards a better user experience and what he noticed is that when there’s a customer experience issue, it typically always comes back to something related to sort of the design of the product and that’s where users get stuck.
So, one of the things he noticed is that when there’s a support issue, and you can actually fix it and make the product better from a user experience standpoint, and by getting to the root cause, it actually improves the product by a lot and there are a lot of benefits to it.
UX Strategy – How Does the Customer Travel Through the Journey and its Impact on Revenue and Profitability
Me: A lot of our listeners are also interested in the direct correlation between revenue profitability and customer experience. From a UX strategy point of view, how are you going to use an experience? Because whereas customer experience probably talks to the more tangible, user experience is probably more talking about the digital experience? Like, if you’re building a product, how does the client or the customer travel through the journey that you are taking them through in a digital way, while still holding all of the same principles and values that you would if it was a face to face interaction, or even over the phone? So, how can we translate that in a positive way? And if it’s not done positively? Why would it impact our revenue and profitability?
Andrew shared that the thing you have to realize is that, like, when a user is using your product, they sort of have an idea of how to use the product and that’s sort of like a customer’s intuition on how the product should work. So, when you’re designing a product, you should always keep that in mind and also set the expectations so that the users know where they are in the journey.
Now, a big part of where customer experience comes into play is that, with a good product experience, for example, like Google, and most of the time he thinks like, if you never had like most of those users never probably have to contact Google because their product, they’re just so easy to use.
Now, the opposite of that is you’re contacting a product for support, because experience is bad, and that’s what happens, right? That’s because somewhere along the way, you were trying to do something, and you couldn’t do what you needed to do so then you need to contact support to get it done. So that’s primarily what happens and that means there’s a cost to support associated with that, that means you got to spend the resource into fixing that issue.
So that’s how like a bad customer experience makes a direct impact, or has a direct impact on the revenue and profitability. Because you shouldn’t rely on customer support to help your users navigate the product. And if you’re seeing a really high cost of support in that aspect, that means there’s a really sort of like a gap in the user experience.
Me: So, dovetailing off of what you just said Andrew, what about those companies or products that don’t have an avenue for you to get through to customer support. So, I’ve bought products already and as you mentioned, I’ve bucked up on a roadblock, and I need to get some assistance, and I go to their website, and the only avenue that they have for me to get through to someone is to send an email, they have no live chat with live agents, there is no telephone number there for me to actually call a number and get through. And sending an email, of course, is clearly not going to have my issue resolved in the next 5 or 10 minutes. What are your thoughts on companies that take that approach?
Andrew shared that well, that means they definitely have a gap in the product experience, because you’re in a situation where you need to contact support, but it’s not there. So that means you must feel kind of frustrated, or you wanted to get your problem solved, but it’s not available, right? Is that how you’re feeling at that moment?
And he would always like to say that it’s really crucial that a company focuses on building a good customer experience, because that’s how you get loyal users to come back to you and raving fans that love your product. So, if you sort of like have that cut off for customer support, and people are having trouble reaching the company where they actually needed, he doesn’t think that’s a really good strategy and users like you will get frustrated and that might negatively impact your relationship with that company.
Me: So, then your recommendation is they should have an avenue by which you can actually get through to someone, a live human being who can answer your question, correct?
Andrew stated that that’s actually one of two strategies. So, yes, like talking to a human helps, but on the other hand, you can also look at when these problems occur, like why did they happen, and from a company strategy point of view, if you’re having these issues come up pretty often, they should look into solving that so that it doesn’t happen again and that will actually be a better strategy for improving the user experience.
Reducing the Cost of Customer Support and Eradicate Complaints From Coming Forward
Me: One of the other things that we do get asked a lot is, how can we reduce the cost of customer support? So, what’s one way? Would the strategy, putting something in place that eradicates that complaint from coming forward again be one way to reduce customer support? And are there any other ways?
Andrew stated absolutely. And that’s coming from like a UX strategy point of view. So, he’ll sort of tell you like a lot of what companies do when they have these issues, because he’s experienced it himself.
Andrew shares a story, he was using this product, it was like a LinkedIn outreach tool. And he was having trouble using it because he was expecting the software to function a certain way, but it didn’t. So, then he had to contact support and then support was explaining to him like, “Oh, no, that’s not how our product works. You got to use it this way, or do this and that. And then then you won’t run into this issue.” And he’s thinking like, if he’s having this issue, there must be a lot of users who are also having it because the way that he had envisioned it to work was actually really, really different.
So then, what’s happening is these companies are training their customer experience reps to explain the product should function a certain way. And they have to do that over and over again, and it’s not solving the root of the problem.
So, what companies should actually do is, when they encounter these issues, and these issues, they’re likely frequent, they should actually look at it from a design point of view and see how they can solve that because once they do, it leads to a lot of benefits downstream, like when you eliminate the root of the problem, you eliminate the cost of training and the cost of support and documentation for that problem, because they no longer exist.
So, he thinks companies, when they face a situation where they’re seeing the same support issues over and over again, they should look into solving that and getting to the root of that problem and solving that directly. And that will actually ease up the support volume, and also reduce the cost of support.
Tips that Will Help Organizations Build a Better Customer Experience
Andrew shared that he thinks number one, is you got to be really customer centric and that means doing your best to make sure that you give the customers the best experience in whatever avenue. So, if they’re having troubles, become human and try to help them solve that problem directly, instead of being so strict or so robotic, and your policies.
And he’ll give you one example. He was using a software a while ago, and he had forgotten to turn off my billing, and they just billed him without even telling me and they didn’t even send out emails or anything. So, he sort of felt like a complaint because he was not happy with the way they were doing things.
And they actually responded and there’s two ways that they could have gone, one is they just say, “Well, sorry, according to our policy, we don’t actually offer any refunds.” But the support rep was really, really human and sort of talked to him in a way that was human and really nice and she actually helped him solve that problem. And he actually appreciated that, that gave him so much more like hope and happiness, because he really appreciated the fact that they were customer centric. And being that, it makes him want to become more of their customer. So, he thinks that’s definitely the most important tip.
Because if you focus on just giving value to your customers, he thinks your customers will really appreciate that. And he thinks the second thing is, again, sort of similar. But again, it’s focusing on the user experience side of things because if you really focus on building a great customer experience, you’ll have like an amazing product and the benchmark of a really amazing product is that it doesn’t require so much support for the user to navigate the product and learn how to use it.
App, Website or Tool that Andrew Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business
When asked about an online resource that he cannot live without in his business, Andrew stated that that’s a sort of interesting one. He thinks from like a business owner’s perspective, he thinks tools that helped him eliminate time, like, count Calendly, for example, definitely helps just clean things up. He definitely thinks he can’t live without that, because organizing all his meetings and becoming aware of them. Getting like a good email is also good because, again, it helps him organize his time and everything. He guesses that’s coming from more of like a business owner perspective. Getting all your tools done, the main idea is to cut out all the little things, all the little distractions, and any tools that will help you do that, it’s something that you want to look into.
Books that Have Had the Biggest Impact on Andrew
When asked about books that have had an impact, Andrew shared stated that this is going to sound interesting, because this book isn’t really like a design book, it’s actually a martial arts book from Bruce Lee called the Toa of Jeet Kune Do. But what he really appreciated from this book was just the philosophies in there were just so eye opening, it talks a lot about like, simplicity and everything. So, it talks about like a lot of principles of simplicity, economy and efficiency when it comes to martial arts and it’s totally different, he gets it. But he’s adapted a lot of that principles in his design. So, that means, like a lot of his design principles actually come from that, simplifying things when it comes to designing interfaces, so on and so forth. And it’s really just mind opening.
What Andrew is Really Excited About Now!
Andrew shared that right now he’s helping tech founders build amazing products. And he thinks just the whole idea of, he’s the kind of person where he really likes to improve things. So, when he’s working on these projects, he thinks about how much they can impact users in the world. And so, he’s also making it efficient for himself to help other tech founders do that. And that to him is really exciting to help a lot of tech founders build amazing products, and really seeing a lot of their ideas and then talking about ideas, working through them and then coming up with solutions that really help other people.
Where Can We Find Andrew Online
Website – www.andrewou.com
Andrew also shared that he has a gift for all the listeners here, it’s an 8 page like super easy to read PDF that you can consume in 8 minutes or less. And it’s about the 5 ways UX can help SaaS companies increase revenue and profitability. And that’s on www.andrewou.com/guide
Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Andrew Uses
When asked about a quote or saying that he tends to revert to, Andrew shared that through his challenging times, there’s one quote that keeps coming back to him and it’s by Winston Churchill, and he thinks it goes something like this, it’s like, “Out of immense complexities, immense simplicities emerge.” And for some reason, that just sticks with him, like if you’re going through a really complicated process, or a part in your life, there’s always going to be some light at the end of the tunnel and the answer to that is going to be fairly simple.
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