I attended Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum here in New York this week, and was really amazed by some of the technological advancements in the science of CRM. Of particular note was a presentation by Bill Albert, executive director of the Design and Usability Center at Bentley University in Boston.
During his session, “Essential Tools for Finding and Fixing Customer Experience Problems,” Albert showed off some innovations that the school has applied to gather customer reactions to products and services. Among them was the SMI Eye Tracking Glasses, a tool to map and track eye movements on a Web site, printed page, or other visual material.
This eye tracking technology from SMI Vision uses reflected infrared light to monitor subtle eye movements. In tracking the fixations (areas of focused attention) and saccades (movements between these areas), precise information about people’s visual attention patterns is revealed. The systems can be mounted directly beneath the user’s computer monitor or worn with a hat.
The system reveals which areas of a screen attract users’ attention, how they view the material, and their flow of attention (the order in which they look at various elements). With it, companies can, for example, compare several designs and creative options relative to products, marketing, advertising, sales brochures, packaging, etc., prior to launch.
Other technology at the Bentley facility includes Web cams and screen capturing software for usability testing, technology for tracking clicks and mouse movements,and even facial expressions. In some cases, sensors can be applied to the skin to register states of arousal or other emotional responses to certain stimuli, registering things like blood flow, body temperature, nervous system responses, and facial expressions.
From the presentation, it’s clear that the Design and Usability Center offers one of the most sophisticated usability testing, consulting, and design operations in the United States, combining in-depth industry expertise and scientific rigor.
Founded in 1999, it has helped hundreds of clients around the world understand their users’ needs and how those needs can be met by intuitive, effective, and engaging design.
Finally, science is being put to good use.