Team & News

An Interview With SAGE Publishing: Empowering Customers With Continuous Listening

5 min read

SAGE Publishing, founded in 1965, is an international Higher Education & Academic publisher of innovative and high-quality journals and content. Lucy Taylor, Associate Product Manager, works to enhance the SAGE journals platform through UX design.

Lucy chats with Usabilla about how SAGE users have redesigned their own UX, how she shares customer insights with various stakeholders, and how Usabilla helps define their roadmap. Let’s dig in!

Can you tell us a little about your role at SAGE?

I’m an Associate Product Manager on the SAGE Journals team. I manage roadmap enhancement projects, from inception to seeing them through live on our website. I also do internal reporting on our product and platform – mainly using Google Analytics and Usabilla.

How do you use Usabilla?

We mainly operate the feedback button with a generic feedback survey so users can leave general website feedback. We also collect a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score, and we’ll sometimes collect NPS on these surveys. The feedback button helps us identify bugs and areas for improvement. Secondly, we’re using the surveys and campaign functions to ask users questions on specific user journeys that we want to improve.

How has feedback helped improve your Customer Experience?

In December 2016, we migrated from one platform vendor to another and had to change our entire URL structure. In April of that year, many of the URL redirects broke. We saw a huge spike in Usabilla feedback items. Our users alerted us to the fact that the redirects were broken. In real-time, we were able to say something’s gone wrong and alert our users that we were working on fixing it.

We went straight to our developers and were able to show them the scale of the problem so they could go in and fix it right away.

What kind of feedback do your users leave?

Users will often leave feedback on the content itself. Some articles might have an author’s name spelled wrong, and our users are very eagle-eyed, they see that kind of thing, and often tell us things they would like to see on the site, which greatly informs our new enhancements.

When you’re handling feedback — how do you organize and share that feedback throughout the organization?

We have an internal set of labels that make the feedback actionable, we know what each label means, who should see it, and how to deal with it.

Other people on our product management team have access to Usabilla, and I’ll try to share feedback via email every week with the digital team.

Recently, we’ve been holding feedback analytics meetings. If we run a campaign, we’ll gather multiple stakeholders from various departments and give a presentation on the results.

Who takes part in those meetings?

Journals editorial and marketing staff, editorial teams and others from the marketing teams as well. They want to know what’s going on with the platform and our initiatives- because customer experience is top-of-mind for their departments as well, they really value the insights.

When you’re going to make a UX change or user journey change – what does that process usually look like?

We recently did a redesign of our article page template, the template for the majority of the content on our site, and started and ended the process with Usabilla. The first thing we did was look at the Usabilla feedback, look at what people were saying about the template. Then, we cross-referenced the feedback alongside the data we receive from GA to compare what people are saying in the feedback versus what they’re doing, matching up the behavior with the why.

From there, we identified some of the pain points and our points of strength- figuring out what users would like to see, and incorporating that into the UX changes. Our UX designer is heavily involved in the process and we try to base our redesign off exactly what our users want.

Next, we used our Usabilla feedback to inform our live user testing sessions, including one Usabilla survey in those sessions.

Post-redesign, we ran a Usabilla survey to make sure our changes were actually effective.

In the survey, we asked users: “How would you rate the article reading experience 1-5? Initially, we had a score of 3.6. After the redesign, we ran the same survey and ended up with a score of 4.3.

How do you measure success after a redesign?

In the 2 months since launching the changes, our average score from the feedback button went up by 23.4%. Our NPS went up by+44 points. It was so clear to see these changes had a very positive impact.

Another great aspect of feedback is that we were able to show we had improved the site, with the ability to capture additional feedback on the things we needed to continue working on in the future, continuously optimizing.

What kinds of things have users requested that you’ve implemented?

On our table of contents page, we added a previous and next button so you can get to a new issue of the same journal — lots of people were telling us they wanted that feature and it’s made navigating various volumes and versions of journals more accessible.

With Higher Ed & Academic journals, articles need to be cited within the correct format. Our users need to be able to cite these to reference management tools quickly and easily,  so we’re going to add an item to those pages where they can download all their citations at once which was in high demand from Usabilla feedback.

What’s on the horizon for SAGE?

Next year I’ll be reviewing last year’s trends in order to plan for next year’s roadmap.

Thank you, Lucy! Any parting words?

With Usabilla, we can actually understand the entire user journey. It’s important to know what you want to test and why, and to continuously capture feedback so you can always be improving. For us, our users give us a lot of great feedback that we integrate into our design decisions.

Rachel Bodony
Rachel is currently living in New York City as Usabilla's Content Writer. You can find her at her desk taking grammar quizzes, reading about AI, or dreaming up her next adrenaline-inducing adventure.