Why it pays to clear UX debt built up during the pandemic

800 449 Andy Curry

Digital transformation has been cranked up a notch since the start of the pandemic. Companies in every industry have been forced to introduce digital transformation measures. But with speed and function as the key priorities, UX has found itself on the backburner. 

It’s easy to see why. Businesses didn’t have the luxury of time to plan or develop a strategy; they simply had to do whatever they could to stay afloat. In fact, a McKinsey Global Survey of executives found that “companies have accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years”. 

Most respondents to the survey said their organisations had introduced both temporary and permanent solutions to meet new demands brought on by the pandemic. And these solutions were introduced much faster than they ever would have been before the crisis. 

The importance of prioritising UX in your digital transformation plans

With the focus firmly on introducing technology fast, decisions were made by solution architects and IT teams. But effective, long-lasting digital transformation involves more than just technology. Companies must strive to change attitudes throughout the organisation to build the best customer experience possible. 

This is especially important when it comes to digital communication. So while snap decisions may have been unavoidable in the early stages of the pandemic, business leaders must revisit those decisions in terms of UX as we emerge from the crisis.

When a business faces an urgent business need (such as a global pandemic), it often enters panic mode. This means they choose technology that is quick to implement and able to meet their basic needs. On the surface, it sounds great – the new technology addresses the pain point and is ready to use straight away. 

But while it might be the quickest way to get the ball rolling, readily available technology hasn’t always been designed with the needs of the business in mind. That means it’s unlikely to be the best solution, leading to technical and UX debts. 

What are technical and UX debts?

Technical debt is the expected cost of extra rework required as a consequence of choosing a simple (more limited) solution, rather than spending time on developing something to meet your exact requirements. 

UX debt is the cost of rework needed to re-evaluate the customer journey and highlight issues resulting from quick fixes and minimum viable products (MVPs). 

Just like any other type of debt, unaddressed UX debt will always become a millstone around your neck. If you don’t address it, the issue becomes bigger and more problematic. 

Legacy products and disjointed organisational processes will cause immediate harm to CX. But they will also be problematic in the future. For example, built-up UX debt makes it more difficult to innovate, advance and complete projects going forward. That’s why it’s vital to wipe the slate clean by clearing up any existing UX debt. You will then be in a better position to move forward with other new initiatives. 

Looking for ways to start repaying UX debt? Read on for our tips on how to get the customer experience back on track for your business. 

  • Explore the steps of every customer journey you currently have in place. This will help you to understand the impact of changes to processes and systems on customer touchpoints
  • Highlight any differences between departmental processes. Plan how to streamline and harmonise the digital strategy to ensure all departments use the same approach to engage with customers. 
  • Critically evaluate solutions you currently have in place. Which solutions improve the customer experience? Are there any solutions that have no real purpose or a negative impact? If something isn’t adding value, don’t be afraid to remove it. 
  • Review company communications in line with accessibility regulations. This area may have been neglected as a consequence of fast implementation of digital communications. 

Remember, a positive customer experience is one of the best ways to stand out from your competitors. Every business has needed to make changes to how it interacts with customers during the past year. However, these changes should never stand in the way of providing a high-quality customer experience.