A Proven Method For Showing The Value Of Good UX

Step 2: Identify The Frustration Costs

Almost always, when there is extreme frustration coming from a product or service’s design, that frustration shows itself somewhere on the organization’s bottom line:

Frustration costs due to lost sales revenue. Sales are going to competitors, the salesforce is discounting to compensate, or customers are taking a long time to sign up.

Frustration costs due to increased support costs. Call-center representatives are spending time answering calls that come from the user’s poor experience.

Frustration costs due to lost productivity costs. Backlogs are requiring more working hours or preventing the organization from being efficient.

Frustration costs due to wasted development rewrites. Development costs are higher because the team rewrites the same code multiple times.

Frustration costs due to unused feature development. Development costs for never-used features is a resource that could’ve been used to build something else.

With a little digging, we can calculate these costs. If the problem is lost sales, we can ask the salesforce to estimate the size of the sales they’ve lost. Or if the sales team is discounting to win against a competitor with a more delightful design, we can add up the discounts they have to give out to win the business.

If the frustration costs are coming from support calls, we’ll calculate how much those calls cost. We find out the budget for the call center, then divide that by the overall number of calls they get. That gives us the average cost for each call. When we multiply that average by the number of calls needed to deal with frustrating user experience features, we have the cost of that frustration.

We can do something similar with the lost productivity numbers: Figure out how much those personnel are paid and calculate how much time is spent dealing with the waste from the frustrating user experiences, either working with it (production workers) or creating it (developers). Multiply the percentage of time by the total personnel costs and you have a rough estimate.

Often, these rough estimates are all that’s necessary to get someone’s attention. After all, if this is the first time the organization is thinking about user experience, it’s likely the costs are pretty high. In one instance, we found that the costs of handling password resets at a large bank were costing the call-center support team $75,000,000 each year. That large number was enough to quickly get the attention of senior bank management.

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