India’s upcoming UX explosion
The amount of work for UX designers will increase dramatically in India over the coming years. Increasing western influences, a growing economy, and a lower cost arbitrage are converging to make a perfect storm for UX designers looking for a challenge.
A quick scan of the classifieds and conversations with colleagues tells me opportunities for UX designers in India at the moment are limited compared to other markets. But much of this might be about to change.
As UX designers, we know that providing a seamless customer experience can benefit an organisation not only be increasing customer satisfaction and repeat business, but also by nipping a lot of costly support issues in the bud. Historically in India however, companies haven’t made the upfront investment in perfecting customer journeys, because it has been more cost-effective to employ cheap labour, repetitively relaying the same support information, than it has been to fix the root problems.
Attitudes like this are currently in the process of change, giving rise to positions for talented UX designers to have huge scale impact in a country with over 1.2 billion people.
These three factors are the driving forces behind this shift:
1. International expectations
India is currently experiencing some of the strongest economic growth in the world. The cost arbitrage that bought overseas work to India, famously in IT outsourcing, is slowly disappearing as local workers have become some of the most experienced IT practitioners in the world. As a result, professional labour is beginning to reach price parity with other countries. This is encouraging many of those who left overseas for higher wages to return home, and has translated into increased worldwide mobility for those who never left.
This influx of well paid labour is bringing back with them experiences of the west, and pre-conceived notions of how companies should operate. Interestingly, is is also fuelling a growth for the long-lived western motto of ‘Time is Money’ – a concept that has not traditionally underpinned the Indian corporate system. We are seeing people with this overseas experience increasingly attracted to brands who operate in familiar western ways, and treat their time as expensive.
2. Customers are spending more – keep them happy.
With this increase in professional pay, customers are spending more and becoming more individually valuable. This makes keeping each customer happy more economically important to an organisation. It also makes keeping each customer happy more viable, as increased sales off a single individual often means increased margins and increased capital.
3. Prevention is now cheaper than cure
These changing expectations of how companies operate, especially from the increasing middle and upper classes, mean people are coming to value a one stop shop for support if a problem with their product or service does arise. However employing such well trained support professionals is, as mentioned above, becoming increasingly costly.
Simply put, it’s becoming increasingly cheaper to take some time and fix the root problems causing customer dissatisfaction than it is to provide increased levels of the type of support demanded from the most valuable customers.
The cost benefits to prevention through good UX don’t stop there however. Organisations in India are now learning that great interaction design can help establish customer rules and expectations, leading to more predictable behaviour and less need for individualised support. This good interaction design helps prevent staff from answering repetitive questions, and allows them to focus on more challenging work, leading to increased staff satisfaction, thus ultimately customer satisfaction, and staff retention. Retention, with rising costs of training and professional wages, is also becoming a hot topic to keep an eye on.
Companies looking to provide a different, often more western, user experience than what they have traditionally practiced will need help. Companies that increasingly invest in keeping every customer happy will need help to continually polish that experience. Companies that are looking to alleviate unnecessary support issues, increase staff retention and manage customer expectations, are going to need help to do this too.
These are three areas we’re seeing substantial growth in, and three areas that require top notch UX designers who are able to translate international practice into locally appropriate outcomes.
The unmentioned challenge behind all this is that user experience design and design thinking practice is new and not well understood to many organisations in India. Meaning they are searching for solutions to the three problems above, but may not have UX on their radar. Many UX organisations have been slow to embrace the Indian market so far, with the amount of client education and cultural understanding that needs to take place. My prediction is that those who put in the groundwork and lay a good foundation now will find themselves sitting on a gold mine full of interesting challenges in the upcoming years.