CUA of the Month – September, 2009

verizon team
"There's a heightened sense of satisfaction from the employees who feel that the company is investing in them, and a heightened sense of confidence and professionalism that comes with having knowledge that they can apply day to day during the course of running their web projects."

"After we sent people through HFI training and did redesigns that leveraged their new skills, we won The Customer Respect Group's 2008 "Best in Class" review in account management and online support, beating all of our competitors hands down. And we won again in 2009 – twice in a row."
Mark Studness and the E-Commerce Team

An Award-Winning Strategy: HFI Training Helps's E-Commerce Team Win Multiple Industry Awards

by Diane Chojnowski

As Director of E-Commerce at, the first question Mark Studness asked himself was, "What's the best way to serve our customers online? Obviously, you have to build a great website, one that really serves customers' needs."

Mark and his E-Commerce team did that – and then some. was awarded "Best in Class" in The Customer Respect Group's 2009 Online Customer Service Study of Telecommunications Industry Websites for the second straight year – the only communications provider to achieve an "Excellent" rating in two subsequent years. Additionally, the Association of Support Professionals (ASP) chose's consumer support website,, as one of the "Ten Best Web Support Sites of 2009." Along with a healthy increase in self-service transactions, the awards validate Verizon's commitment to customer service innovation.

Mark is very clear about the source of that innovation. "At the end of the day, it's your staff that is going to make your site better. So when it came to making significant improvement to our websites, I decided to invest in our people's skill sets."

Mark and his E-Commerce team started to look around for user experience training. After sending team members through several courses, with positive but not entirely satisfactory results, Mark discovered HFI's Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) training program. The 10-day, instructor-led training proved popular with team members, who felt the course was thorough, research-based and grounded in practice. To date, more than 28 members the E-Commerce team have taken HFI CUA training, with another 3 signed up to take the training this year.

For Mark, one of the program's most significant features was the rigorous, 2-hour online exam that course participants have to pass to become a Certified Usability Analyst. "The fact that you have to get certified," Mark noted, "made it very real."

So did the results.

"The ROI has exceeded our expectations," Mark says. "We began to see positive feedback immediately after the training. Everybody on the team was able to take what they learned in class and apply it immediately. There was good, positive feedback, and almost with every release we saw an improved level of performance.

"We began HFI training at a critical time," says My Verizon Application Manager Tom Malone. "One of our challenges was to reduce silos of services within Verizon, all created and managed separately. So we were in the process of merging four product-line "buckets" – Internet, TV, phone and wireless – into a single, strategic application for the customer. HFI training was really fundamental to our success in accomplishing that initiative."

In naming's support site one of the "Ten Best," the ASP singled out the integration project. "The Verizon site developers faced a challenge that they solved quite effectively – how to provide a single customer experience that works across a very wide range of products and customers," said ASP executive director Jeffrey Tarter. "This kind of integration is extraordinarily difficult to deliver, but Verizon shows that it can be done."

With responsibility for the entire, end-to-end online customer experience at, Mark and the E-Commerce team use their HFI training to help them deliver on challenging projects every day. Yet they are not usability specialists or designers themselves. Instead the E-Commerce team manages the end-to-end online customer experience and is accountable for the results. Their role involves working with usability resources and designers to develop best-in-class customer experiences like "shepherds leading a flock," Tom says.

Judy Ferrell, Group Manager with eSupport, says other HFI course participants "were intrigued when they found out that we were business owners, not usability practitioners. 'Why are you going through this?' they would ask. Well, CUA certification has given us a clear advantage. Before we took the training, we hadn't necessarily made time in the schedule to test the user experience for all projects. Now we engineer time and resources to create effective customer interactions – and include validation steps with users to ensure a positive customer experience."

Says Mark, "The training taught us not to rush through the design process. Whenever anybody says, 'I think it should be this or that,' rather than committing ourselves, we step back and ask, 'Well, what does the customer think?' and we make time to obtain customer input."

Asked about the lasting value of HFI training, Mark is quick to reply. "At the end of the day, your own people are the ones who are going to make your site better. You can engage an outside firm to redesign a part of your site for you, but at the end of the day, it's your employees who ensure that the new design will work for your customers. So making the investment of HFI training for our employees was our ticket to A) substantial improvements, and B) long-term improvements."

Mark was too modest to mention C) two coveted, industry awards for customer service excellence.

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to

Privacy policy

Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which Human Factors International, Inc., an Iowa corporation ("HFI") collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users (each, a "User") of its website and any derivative or affiliated websites on which this Privacy Policy is posted (collectively, the "Website"). HFI reserves the right, at its discretion, to change, modify, add or remove portions of this Privacy Policy at any time by posting such changes to this page. You understand that you have the affirmative obligation to check this Privacy Policy periodically for changes, and you hereby agree to periodically review this Privacy Policy for such changes. The continued use of the Website following the posting of changes to this Privacy Policy constitutes an acceptance of those changes.


HFI may use "cookies" or "web beacons" to track how Users use the Website. A cookie is a piece of software that a web server can store on Users’ PCs and use to identify Users should they visit the Website again. Users may adjust their web browser software if they do not wish to accept cookies. To withdraw your consent after accepting a cookie, delete the cookie from your computer.


HFI believes that every User should know how it utilizes the information collected from Users. The Website is not directed at children under 13 years of age, and HFI does not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under 13 years of age online. Please note that the Website may contain links to other websites. These linked sites may not be operated or controlled by HFI. HFI is not responsible for the privacy practices of these or any other websites, and you access these websites entirely at your own risk. HFI recommends that you review the privacy practices of any other websites that you choose to visit.

HFI is based, and this website is hosted, in the United States of America. If User is from the European Union or other regions of the world with laws governing data collection and use that may differ from U.S. law and User is registering an account on the Website, visiting the Website, purchasing products or services from HFI or the Website, or otherwise using the Website, please note that any personally identifiable information that User provides to HFI will be transferred to the United States. Any such personally identifiable information provided will be processed and stored in the United States by HFI or a service provider acting on its behalf. By providing your personally identifiable information, User hereby specifically and expressly consents to such transfer and processing and the uses and disclosures set forth herein.

In the course of its business, HFI may perform expert reviews, usability testing, and other consulting work where personal privacy is a concern. HFI believes in the importance of protecting personal information, and may use measures to provide this protection, including, but not limited to, using consent forms for participants or "dummy" test data.

The Information HFI Collects

Users browsing the Website without registering an account or affirmatively providing personally identifiable information to HFI do so anonymously. Otherwise, HFI may collect personally identifiable information from Users in a variety of ways. Personally identifiable information may include, without limitation, (i)contact data (such as a User’s name, mailing and e-mail addresses, and phone number); (ii)demographic data (such as a User’s zip code, age and income); (iii) financial information collected to process purchases made from HFI via the Website or otherwise (such as credit card, debit card or other payment information); (iv) other information requested during the account registration process; and (v) other information requested by our service vendors in order to provide their services. If a User communicates with HFI by e-mail or otherwise, posts messages to any forums, completes online forms, surveys or entries or otherwise interacts with or uses the features on the Website, any information provided in such communications may be collected by HFI. HFI may also collect information about how Users use the Website, for example, by tracking the number of unique views received by the pages of the Website, or the domains and IP addresses from which Users originate. While not all of the information that HFI collects from Users is personally identifiable, it may be associated with personally identifiable information that Users provide HFI through the Website or otherwise. HFI may provide ways that the User can opt out of receiving certain information from HFI. If the User opts out of certain services, User information may still be collected for those services to which the User elects to subscribe. For those elected services, this Privacy Policy will apply.

How HFI Uses Information

HFI may use personally identifiable information collected through the Website for the specific purposes for which the information was collected, to process purchases and sales of products or services offered via the Website if any, to contact Users regarding products and services offered by HFI, its parent, subsidiary and other related companies in order to otherwise to enhance Users’ experience with HFI. HFI may also use information collected through the Website for research regarding the effectiveness of the Website and the business planning, marketing, advertising and sales efforts of HFI. HFI does not sell any User information under any circumstances.

Disclosure of Information

HFI may disclose personally identifiable information collected from Users to its parent, subsidiary and other related companies to use the information for the purposes outlined above, as necessary to provide the services offered by HFI and to provide the Website itself, and for the specific purposes for which the information was collected. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information at the request of law enforcement or governmental agencies or in response to subpoenas, court orders or other legal process, to establish, protect or exercise HFI’s legal or other rights or to defend against a legal claim or as otherwise required or allowed by law. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information in order to protect the rights, property or safety of a User or any other person. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information to investigate or prevent a violation by User of any contractual or other relationship with HFI or the perpetration of any illegal or harmful activity. HFI may also disclose aggregate, anonymous data based on information collected from Users to investors and potential partners. Finally, HFI may disclose or transfer personally identifiable information collected from Users in connection with or in contemplation of a sale of its assets or business or a merger, consolidation or other reorganization of its business.

Personal Information as Provided by User

If a User includes such User’s personally identifiable information as part of the User posting to the Website, such information may be made available to any parties using the Website. HFI does not edit or otherwise remove such information from User information before it is posted on the Website. If a User does not wish to have such User’s personally identifiable information made available in this manner, such User must remove any such information before posting. HFI is not liable for any damages caused or incurred due to personally identifiable information made available in the foregoing manners. For example, a User posts on an HFI-administered forum would be considered Personal Information as provided by User and subject to the terms of this section.

Security of Information

Information about Users that is maintained on HFI’s systems or those of its service providers is protected using industry standard security measures. However, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable, and HFI cannot guarantee that the information submitted to, maintained on or transmitted from its systems will be completely secure. HFI is not responsible for the circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures relating to the Website by any Users or third parties.

Correcting, Updating, Accessing or Removing Personal Information

If a User’s personally identifiable information changes, or if a User no longer desires to receive non-account specific information from HFI, HFI will endeavor to provide a way to correct, update and/or remove that User’s previously-provided personal data. This can be done by emailing a request to HFI at Additionally, you may request access to the personally identifiable information as collected by HFI by sending a request to HFI as set forth above. Please note that in certain circumstances, HFI may not be able to completely remove a User’s information from its systems. For example, HFI may retain a User’s personal information for legitimate business purposes, if it may be necessary to prevent fraud or future abuse, for account recovery purposes, if required by law or as retained in HFI’s data backup systems or cached or archived pages. All retained personally identifiable information will continue to be subject to the terms of the Privacy Policy to which the User has previously agreed.

Contacting HFI

If you have any questions or comments about this Privacy Policy, you may contact HFI via any of the following methods:
Human Factors International, Inc.
PO Box 2020
1680 highway 1, STE 3600
Fairfield IA 52556
(800) 242-4480

Terms and Conditions for Public Training Courses

Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

Cancellation of Course by HFI

HFI reserves the right to cancel any course up to 14 (fourteen) days prior to the first day of the course. Registrants will be promptly notified and will receive a full refund or be transferred to the equivalent class of their choice within a 12-month period. HFI is not responsible for travel expenses or any costs that may be incurred as a result of cancellations.

Cancellation of Course by Participants (All regions except India)

$100 processing fee if cancelling within two weeks of course start date.

Cancellation / Transfer by Participants (India)

4 Pack + Exam registration: Rs. 10,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (4 Pack-CUA/CXA) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.

Cancellation / Transfer by Participants (Online Courses)

$100 processing fee if cancelling within two weeks of course start date. No cancellations or refunds less than two weeks prior to the first course start date.

Individual Modules: Rs. 3,000 per participant ‘per module’ processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (any Individual HFI course) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.

Exam: Rs. 3,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the pre agreed CUA/CXA exam date before three weeks from the examination date. No refund or carry forward of the exam fees if requesting/cancelling or transferring the CUA/CXA exam within three weeks before the examination date.

No Recording Permitted

There will be no audio or video recording allowed in class. Students who have any disability that might affect their performance in this class are encouraged to speak with the instructor at the beginning of the class.

Course Materials Copyright

The course and training materials and all other handouts provided by HFI during the course are published, copyrighted works proprietary and owned exclusively by HFI. The course participant does not acquire title nor ownership rights in any of these materials. Further the course participant agrees not to reproduce, modify, and/or convert to electronic format (i.e., softcopy) any of the materials received from or provided by HFI. The materials provided in the class are for the sole use of the class participant. HFI does not provide the materials in electronic format to the participants in public or onsite courses.