Customer support: The UX team’s closest ally

August 5, 2019 by Kaitlynn Honeck

about the author:

Kaitlynn Honeck

Visual designer

Kaitlynn Honeck is a visual designer at Advicent, the financial planning technology provider of choice for nearly 100,000 financial professionals.

When was the last time you asked a stranger what they thought about your outfit, their feelings on your career path, or maybe an opinion on your restaurant order? If you would never think to ask a stranger these questions, who then would you go to? Maybe a family member or a close friend, certainly someone who would give you truthful, legitimate advice that you can rely on.

This same strategy can be used when looking at user feedback. Yes, external users are crucial to the feedback process and give needed insights, but who is going to tell you the cold, hard truth about the product you are designing? Someone who uses the product daily, knows the ins and outs of workflows, and isn’t afraid to tell you exactly how they feel: internal users.

Why internal feedback?

Internal user feedback isn’t something that a lot of people are talking about, but when they are, they are shouting from the rooftops. A company’s internal users are some of their most valuable resources when it comes to product creation, user feedback, and new ideas. This is because most internal users are not only using the product for their own professional needs but are also talking directly to external users and getting their honest feedback on frustrations, personal needs from the product, or in the moment thoughts.

Who are internal users?

Internal users are anyone within the company who uses the product or application to complete job-related functions or has end-user contact. This could include the sales, marketing, partner experience, and customer support teams for example.

All of these teams can have beneficial insights into how the end-user is completing tasks, how to make these tasks easier, and how different design decisions could impact them. However, customer support is one of the few teams that see these insights first-hand, logs issue-specific tasks for development, and is oftentimes overlooked for design input.

How did Advicent start using internal feedback?

Gathering internal feedback and using it in NaviPlan all started with our recent Visual Design Update project. Some design decisions needed user feedback, but we didn’t have time to plan, prepare for, conduct, and validate multiple rounds of external user feedback sessions.

Instead, we turned to the users that we knew we could be a little less formal with and would be able to give us the type of feedback we would need to make design decisions quickly and effectively. Because of how well this worked and how willing our internal users were to look at new designs and give their feedback on, we started Support and UX Quarterly meetings.

The Support and UX Quarterly Meeting is a time where the designers will sit down with the internal users to show new design ideas, ask opinions on design decisions, go through feedback that external users have given, and gather the internal users’ own opinions.

The feedback from these meetings is noted, added to a Confluence page (where all of the meeting topics, PowerPoints, research, and notes are posted), and tasks are created and placed in the UX backlog for future consideration affecting our design decisions.

How can you tap into this feedback source?

The answer to that question is easy; you just have to ask. Internal users are most likely going to be very willing to give you their feedback on the product, what they’ve heard from external users, and what would make their jobs easier.

Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Set up a time to sit down with either a whole internal user team or groups of internal users to discuss their thoughts on giving internal feedback.
  2. If they are interested, have a preliminary meeting to talk about the feedback that they have been gathering and the cadence of future meetings.
  3. Then, in following meetings, talk about how you have used their past feedback to better the product, show them examples, and ask if they have more general feedback or feedback on the changes you have shown.

To learn more about Advicent's customer support and training resources, click here >

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