10 things that businesses consistently tell us

Reading Time: 5 minutes

When we do user research with businesses, we often hear the same things over and over again, regardless of which design, platform or web page we’re testing.  

Here are a few things that our customers consistently tell us: 

1. Get to the point 

Business owners are time-poor. They don’t want to waste time reading through a lot of content. We need to get to the point quickly or we’ll lose them. 

They like clear, simple language and bullet points. They hate long paragraphs and jargon. 

When it comes to our digital services, we tend to focus a lot of how things work technically and what they look like – which are both important – but so much of the feedback we get from customers is about the words that we use. Words matter. We need to choose them carefully. 

Customer quotes 

  • “There are a lot of words there and my time is really precious.”  
  • “I don’t have the time to read the whole page.”  
  • “I’m dyslexic – that wall of words is off putting. I’d prefer to see it broken down a wee bit.” 

2. Keep it simple 

Poster that reads "Do the difficult complicated hard work to make it simple" with the words 'difficult' and 'complicated' crossed out.
GOV.UK design principles poster

Customers tell us they like it when we keep things simple. We should avoid anything that gets in the way of them doing what they came to our website/service to do. When our websites and digital services look and act like other government sites that they’re familiar with, they perceive us as trustworthy. 

Customer quotes: 

  • “It’s like HMRC, so it seems intuitive from that point of view.”  
  • “I like the clean layout.”  
  • “It looks nice and simple. I would make sure to keep it that way. No need to complicate it.”  

3. Only ask me for information once 

Customers expect us to remember information that they have given us and not ask for it again. When we ask them for information that they think we should already have, they get irritated and lose trust in us. 

Customer quotes: 

  • “You keep asking me for the same data. It is annoying and also erodes my trust in you.” 
  • “I’m copying and pasting content from one application to the next.” 
  • “I filled out the same application for three things.” 

4. Tell me if I’m eligible 

Customers want to be able to easily see if they’re eligible for funding or support straight away. We need to be clear about what our eligibility criteria are, and what information and documents they will need to gather to apply.  

Customer quotes: 

  • “’Is my business eligible’ should be first up – why waste my time?” 
  • “If you aren’t clear what you are being asked before you begin, it’s quite difficult to get your thoughts together.” 
  • “We got all the way through and then were told we weren’t suitable.” 

5. Don’t take too long to make a decision 

Our customers are busy people with businesses to run. They don’t want to have to wait for ages for us to decide whether we can help them or not. They need to know who is dealing with their application and how long it will take to hear back from us. 

Customer quotes: 

  • “Speed is of the essence in business.” 
  • “I can’t wait three months to fill in a form.” 
  • “The application process is slow, complicated and created added pressure on us. Not being able to start the project before the application has been approved.” 

6. I want to talk to someone 

We can build great digital services, but there will always be people who just want to speak to someone. That’s understandable, given the complex issues that businesses can face. We need to make sure that we always give people the option to talk to a human being if they want to.  

People who have worked with us tell us how much they value the relationships that they have with SE staff, and how the conversations they have with us are helpful to their business. Having someone who they trust and can go to with questions is important.  

Businesses are increasingly telling us that they want to communicate with us via live chat, because they see it as a quick way to get an answer. As one business owner explained, live chat would allow him to talk to us while doing his work at the same time. Time-poor, remember?  

Customer quotes: 

  • “Speaking to someone is still valid these days.” 
  • “I would probably just pick up the phone.” 
  • “It’s important to have a human on the end of the telephone.” 

7. Give me a copy 

When businesses apply for something with us, they want to be able to access a copy of what they have sent, whether that’s through a link, a downloadable PDF/Word document, or an email. If our systems do this for them, they feel reassured.   

Customer quotes: 

  • “I would be annoyed if I hadn’t downloaded the summary before I submitted it.” 
  • “I would have thought a copy of my application would be sent to my email.” 
  • “I like that you can download and review your application.” 

8. Give me a template 

When we ask customers to share documents like project plans or business plans with us, some people would feel more comfortable if we provided a template so they could see the format that we were looking for. This helps them feel reassured that they’re giving us the information that we need in the right way. 

Customer quotes: 

  • “It would be nice to see an example of a project plan or a template.” 
  • “A template that you could populate would help.” 
  • “A project plan template would be a big help to small businesses.” 

9. I want money 

SE can offer businesses support with everything from market research and innovation to intellectual property and sustainability, but what do businesses want from us? Money. We know that when we do give them non-financial support they find it valuable – sometimes more valuable than a grant – but they’re not necessarily looking for it. Our analytics and user research show that funding is their top priority. 

Customer quotes: 

  • “You give great advice, but let’s see some cash.” 
  • “I’m looking for words like ‘money, finance’ – I just really want some money.” 
  • “People just want to know how much money you can get.” 

10. I need to be part of the gang 

Some businesses think that we only offer support to big companies, and that you have to be ‘part of the club’ in order to work with us.  

Customer quotes: 

  • “People still need to speak Scottish Enterprise.” 
  • “If you were not used to SE form filling then it might be tricky. We know the right buzzwords.” 
  • “Trying to get in was difficult.” 

Common themes 

Don’t waste my time 

People who run businesses are busy, and they may be doing multiple roles in their company. They don’t want to waste time reading a lot of content, giving us information that we already have, trying to figure out whether they are eligible for something or not, or waiting for us to make decisions.  

Don’t make me think 

Our customers shouldn’t have to try to figure out what we’re offering or what we’re asking them to do. We should make it easy for them. 

Don’t stress me out 

Applying for funding or support can be stressful, and the last thing we want to do is make it worse. But when don’t make things clear enough for our customers, we could be adding to their anxiety. And that’s not what we want.  

Want to know more? 

If you want to find out more, you can get in touch with the user research team at customerfeedback@scotent.co.uk. You can also see what research we’ve done for different projects on our Github site

4 Replies to “10 things that businesses consistently tell us”

  1. I really like this! A great overview of what we all know is important and what we need to keep practicing to get right. Well said Katie

  2. Great post. Really enjoyed it and felt it emphasised all the things we’re trying to do. The fact that it can be really difficult to make things easy for customers doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

  3. I love this Katie, thank you. Your parting gift to remind us all of the need to keep the customer at the heart of everything we do.

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