User interfaces that are easy to use have become standard in the consumer sector. But there is still a lot of catching up to do with corporate software. Why this is so and how B2B companies can significantly improve the user experience for business applications.
Usability is a decisive criterion in the use of software and thus also in software development. But while the user interfaces of apps and online shops in the consumer sector are primarily self-explanatory, there is still some catching up with business software. Excel lists and faxes are still used for orders. In addition, the input masks on the web are often complex and confusing.
Business Software Is Characterized By Functionality
There is a simple reason why many business applications are not user-friendly: B2B software is traditionally characterized by its functionality. The software ergonomics came later. On the other hand, in the consumer area, the topic of usability was considered from the start. Because: The users are usually not particularly tech-savvy. If you use an app, its functionality must be immediately apparent via an intuitive interface.
However, approaches to optimization such as font size, colours or buttons are not so easy to change with B2B software. Many applications map highly complex processes. Changes to the surface often affect the system architecture. The effort for improvements is therefore much higher than in the B2C environment.
The Boundaries Between B2C And B2B Software Are Blurring
Despite these challenges, usability is also a must for business software today. Websites, apps, online shopping – everyone comes into contact with the software regularly. The private and business sectors are increasingly mixing up. The use of business tools alternates with private purchases and the use of social networks. This direct juxtaposition of B2B and B2C applications increases users’ expectations: They want to be able to use business applications just as intuitively as they are used to in their private lives.
User-friendliness is also becoming more and more critical due to the increasing flood of information that users are confronted with today. The patience to familiarize oneself with company software has noticeably decreased. Operating problems lead to frustration. With complex B2B applications – for example, payroll and financial accounting – it is, therefore, all the more important not to overload the user interfaces and menus.
Usability Leads To Cost Savings And Satisfied Users
Ultimately, an improved user experience saves time and money because users can complete their tasks faster. And it leads to higher user satisfaction – an aspect that should not be underestimated, especially in the cloud age. Companies can change software providers quickly and easily in the cloud if they are not satisfied with their user experience.
The transparency of the offers is also increasing. Intuitive systems that require neither training nor extensive tests are in demand. The user experience in the B2B environment always remains a compromise, especially when it comes to software for financial accounting with thousands of functions. However, there are proven best practices that can help:
Only Show What The User Needs Next
With systems that can be operated intuitively, it is always clear what to do next to the user. This claim can also be implemented in complex software – in that, not all functions are displayed at once, but only the next step in each case. The surface becomes even tidier if it is tailored to the respective user. For example, if an employee only needs customer master data, this is displayed, including the corresponding operating elements. He can then use the settings to adapt the user interface to his way of working. This clarity saves time, as the user can concentrate better on his tasks and find the functions he needs more quickly.
Contextual Help With Business Software
Many B2B applications leave the user alone in the event of difficulties. Intuitive software, on the other hand, recognizes itself if there are problems. As soon as the user gets stuck at one point, the software offers contextual help that shows him how to proceed or that specific calculation processes are currently in progress in the background, and he has to wait. Explanatory texts or videos can be displayed in a context-sensitive manner to guide the next steps in the software – for example, an invoice can be created, or a booking can be made.
An analysis of user behaviour is also functional. For example, if a user always navigates to the same area and never uses specific input masks, the software can hide these elements in the future. In addition, the company software can prepare settings that are used repeatedly, such as evaluations from data that the user regularly creates. Optimization options like this are possible through artificial intelligence, which practically evaluates telemetry, i.e. the recording of where the user often moves on the surface.
Chatbots Provide Interactive Help With Company Software
Chatbots, which meanwhile already support customer support on many websites, offer particularly timely user support. Often, speed is critical to prevent frustrations for the user or customer. According to Forrester, 63% of customers leave a vendor after just one bad experience, and nearly two-thirds wait no more than 2 minutes for help. Chatbots can usually answer frequently asked questions automatically. This relieves the employees because customer support only receives inquiries that require human qualities. Speech recognition can also improve the usability of the software. Above all, the combination of chatbots with AI ensures better usability: Bots can learn to understand people and their problems with operation.
A Push Of User-Friendly Business Software
“In the past 20 years, user-friendliness in B2B software has often been neglected in favour of a variety of features. However, the developers are in a phase in which the software is taking the step into the cloud. In this step, the old desktop interface has to be adapted and modernized for use on the web,” explains Oliver Henrich,
“That’s why there is often a real boost in user-friendliness from B2B software: The step into the cloud offers an ideal opportunity to clean up, rethink and modernize. And it is time to update: Today, better usability is a necessity to survive the competition. Well-designed software ensures satisfied users who have also become more demanding with their expectations of the user experience of their work system. “