Over the last decade we’ve all learned how important the user experience (UX) of software is to how well it performs. If features are hard to use and the interface looks stale, it’s less compelling to the user. The UX is particularly important in communications and social technologies because there are many other ways to communicate available to the user – the software has to make it easier and more appealing if it has a good chance of being used.
I believe that in online communities, the human experience – the HX – is equally important to the performance of those communities – without humans listening, responding, guiding, and enforcing boundaries, communities can very easily go off track, becoming any of the following:
- A ghost town
- Land of 1,000 Flowers
- Drama Central
- A Circling Storm
- A Clique
Because most organizations need to achieve business outcomes from communities, these risks are fairly high and the way to mitigate them is through a community management team. We’ve written before about The Value of Community Management and What a Difference A Community Manager Makes but as the discipline matures, it is also becoming apparent that the UX and the HX need to be aligned and working in concert with each other.
Aligning the UX and HX of a community requires you to look at the use case, identify the goals you want to achieve, and then understand the behaviors of members that lead to those goals. Once you have mapped out that behavior flow, you can optimize the software to encourage those behaviors and de-emphasize or eliminate the functionality that is a distraction. As the same time, you can create HX workflows that promote and reward the behaviors that lead to outcomes and discourage and de-emphaszie the behaviors that are destructive to producing results.
While many business communities today serve an explicit functional goal (loyalty, advocacy, support, knowledge management, professional development, etc) we think there is a strategic opportunity for communities to serve as the mechanism for providing a consistent HX across all of the interactions people have with an organization. That will require a consolidated point of view about what that experience should look like and how it becomes consistently applied. For customers, the experience across marketing, sales, and support needs to feel the same. For employees recruiting, on boarding, collaborating, professional development, and support programs need to all be working in concert.
Organizations with strong branding will have an easier time articulating what the experience should be for their constituents and I’ve suggested using art as a way to develop your organizations unique fingerprint. I particularly like how Radian6 has incorporated art by the same artist into all of their customer touch points – it reinforces the hard to articulate HX they wish people to have with their brand.
In the sort term community management teams are doing a lot of the smoothing over between inconsistencies in the HX across organizational silos but long term, this will require strategic re-alignment in order to scale and an understanding of the business of community by the senior executive team.
Who in your organization is thinking about the human experience (HX) across your organization and is it something your executives care about?
You also may want to check out:
The Case for Humanizing Business
Humanize These 3 Functions to Build a Social Business
The Human Side of Business: Traumatized but Ready for Recovery
Forget About The Human Business Experience: Social Business Failure #13
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