Last week I read this excellent post at Boag World I cant agree more with Paul Boag in his point that User Experience is not restricted to the User Experience on the Website (like many people think). He makes several points on why this is such a key concept for a company to understand.
I would like to add a couple of things to his post to prolong his reflexion. One of the main issues that a company faces when trying to keep an overall successful user experience is that different departments have different policies, and sometimes there is some sort of competition among these departments. Also, people from different departments have different priorities, and usually, they don’t have the general vision to understand what is good for the overall user experience, instead, they look for what is better for the user in the context of each department. A classic example is the: "Lets add this paragraph on the shopping process so that we don't get five user complains every month". Well, the extra paragraph usually is directed to a niche group and showing this information to everyone, the experience of all the users is affected. There are always ways around theses issues, unfortunately it usually takes some extra work and there is never the time to do it.
In my opinion there is the need of a cross-department group that is in charge of testing and user experience evaluation. Things like copy writing review (error messages, double meaning sentences, poorly written areas, outdated text, misleading text on the packaging, etc.), web flow (unnecessary steps, lack of call to actions, errors, etc.), customer support, how fast/satisfactory is the response, package opening (if the company sells physical products), mobile support, social media, refunds, how informed are the retailers on the company's product, etc.
This cross-department group should review all the processes (online and offline) also bring real users to the testings and produce informs with the conclusions of the testings that can bring to the decision-makers in the company and show where are the problems and how can they be fixed. When the errors are corrected, they should test again and produce new informs to evaluate the progress.
Websites, now more than ever are living entities, they have to be updated often, prices change, products change, even users change, the company website have to be updated constantly to keep up with all these changes.
Thats why these cross-department groups should be permanent inside of the companies, it is not a enough to perform these sort of tests only once or twice a year, the website must be reviewed constantly, there are always things to improve and a pretty website that works well is not going to help when it takes two weeks for the users to receive the products at home. Users are now more demanding than ever and they have the tools to make the world know if something stink in your company's website. Keep it in mind.