Archive | October, 2007

Advertising vs. Customer Experience

22 Oct

Adverts are everywhere. Everyday we are bombarded by efforts to persuade us to buy this or use that. They raise our expectations by making promises about a product or service. When those promises aren’t kept, customers have a poor experience.

Recently we talked about how customers’ expectations are key to a good experience. Following similar thinking, we believe that when advertising raises customer expectations the customer experience must go beyond expectations in order to deliver a great customer experience.

Avertising vs. Customer Experience

Good Experience offer a brilliantly simple summary of the relationship between advertising and customer experience:

“Advertising is a promise of something.
Customer experience is the something.”

If companies are pouring money into advertising and raising their customer’s expectations, but they don’t match their investment in customer experience, it would follow that they risk investing in delivering a poor customer experience. As ICE suggest:

“If you were throwing a party, wouldn’t you clean up your house before you invited people over?”

Shouldn’t the people responsible for customer experience be driving the advertising? Only when they are confident the customer experience is consistently excellent should they start advertising. I suspect this is idealistic, but I wonder how much involvement or warning the departments contributing to customer experience have before an advertising campaign goes out.

What do you think? Is your advertising creating unfulfilled customer expectations? Are you spending too much on advertising and not enough on customer experience?

 

 

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

Amazon has a customer-centred redesign

15 Oct

customer-centred design amazon

It was only a matter of time before Amazon outgrew their old tab navigation system. They have just launched a new design which maximises the screen real estate while retaining a lot of what customers are familiar with.

The main changes appear to be the navigation where they have used a more traditional left navigation which works well. The navigation minimizes once in a specific section and is revealed by a rollover ensuring they have as much screen real estate as possible. They have obviously done extensive usability testing and conducted a thorough customer-centred design process. Here’s what they have to say about it:

“We consulted the foremost experts in the field: our customers.

We travelled around the world, inviting customers like you to come and try out the new features and design. We listened to their feedback and made changes based on their opinions. Then we asked more customers for their advice, and we made more changes from their feedback. The design you see today reflects the input of many real-life customers of our UK and international websites.”

Overall they appear to have done a great job and I’m really pleased to see that they have continued to offer a good customer experience by understanding what their customers’ goals are. They say that after speaking to their customers they found the four most important customer goals were shopping, searching, saving and buying, so they made those areas a priority. After having a good look around though, I don’t see any big changes which would improve my experience in these four areas so I can only assume that they made minor tweaks as they felt that those areas worked well as is.

Teams which follow a thorough customer-centred design process on their website can be confident that when they launch their new site, customers will continue to have a good customer experience. In our eyes it’s no longer a nice to have, it is an essential part of a website redesign process. How confident are you that your web team will follow a customer-centred design process?

 

 

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

An online grocery shopping experience

12 Oct

I’m totally new to online grocery shopping. I’ve been curious before but I’ve never really seen the benefit for me over just going to the store. I do hate the shopping experience on a busy Saturday, but I prefer to make informed choices about the food I buy rather than relying on a spotty teenager who might choose the bruised apples, or the mince that looks a funny shade of brown. But, this weekend I have a clear need to use an online service. I’m really not sure what the experience will be like so I thought it would be an interesting experiment in customer experience to record my thoughts as I go through the process.

Before I start, I’ll outline my goals and expectations.

My main goal is to get some groceries for the weekend sent to me as I’m without a car and I’m busy all day Saturday. My sub-goals are:

  • to see if this is a more convenient way for me to shop in the future
  • to save me the hassle of using a bus or a taxi to go to the supermarket and back again
  • I want delivery either today (Friday) or Sunday

My expectations:

  • to be able to choose the specific items and brands I want
  • to be able to choose products from a range of dates available so I don’t have 2 dinners to be eaten within 1 day
  • to have to log in with my details
  • to be able to choose specific delivery times
  • to be able to order items for same day or Sunday delivery

I don’t feel I’m being too unreasonable with my goals and expectations, so lets take a look and see if the site delivers.

I’m going to use Tesco’s website because thats where I do most of my shopping.

Tesco customer experience review

When I hit the tesco.com homepage, the first place I focus on is the Groceries & Wine area which suggests that Tesco have optimised this page for what I assume is their most valuable customer journey. The top left area of the page is where I looked first and where eye tracking studies seem to suggest is a key area for users to focus.

I’m then lead through a couple of clear decision making steps to choose grocery over wine, and I’m a returning user or a new user needing to register. All is well so far. Next I arrive at a page which looses the finesse and clear layout I was used to and instead I’m faced with a large scary looking registration form. Of course I’m expecting one, but the clean layout and the well sign posted decisions to get me here had set up my expectation that it was going to be a smooth process, instead I’m faced with a large form with lots of information to read. I wonder what the drop out rates are like in the traffic stats at this point as my first thought is that maybe I should just get a lift from someone to the store instead.

tesco registration form 1

tesco registration form 2

I carry on anyway and find that the form isn’t anywhere near as scary as it looks and once complete I’m told to check my email to continue. I go to Hotmail and find a fairly pleasant email giving me login details. Unfortunately though, the email misses a small but vital element for me to continue my journey: there’s no link back to the site for me to jump straight to where I was in the process. Instead I have to find the Tesco site again and navigate back to the login page. OK, no massive big deal but not exactly giving me a smooth journey to reach my goal either.

I go back to tesco.com, click on groceries and am pleasantly surprised to find I’m already logged in and can immediately find out when I can get my groceries delivered.

Grocery home

The delivery slot page surprises and disappoints me all at once. I’m happy to see I can get a delivery tonight, but I’m really disappointed to find that I have to pay a fair amount of money to get it delivered. At this point I feel pretty stupid for not expecting to pay this much for delivery, but as it wasn’t what I expected I’m now questioning if I want to continue. The other thing I notice is that Tesco are selling advertising space on their online shop. When I think about it I guess I’m not that surprised, but it goes against my expectations and contributes even more to my disappointment.

delivery times & costs

Feeling a bit despondent I decide to take a look at Sainsbury’s to see if they will charge the same amount for delivery. Before going through the registration process I want to find out straight away what the delivery cost will be and if I can get it delivered today or Sunday.

Continuing to prove the ‘top left’ theory, the first thing I spot is the ‘buy groceries online’.

Sainsbury’s home

Straight away the site feels more friendly and I get a sense of confidence that this site can help me out when I see that I can check whether they deliver to my area. I just hope they can tell me how much and when.

Sainsbury’s online shopping

Once again, I’m feeling disappointed and like I’m really going to have to work to find this information. Of course its nice to get confirmation that I can use the service, but what I really want is more information on delivery dates and costs. Where to now? There’s no further information on this page apart from a link to continue shopping which doesn’t help me reach my goal.

sainsbury’s delivery

As the website doesn’t appear to be helping me I decide to find a phone number and call them instead. Clicking on ‘contact us’ gives me a number. All the options presented to me in the automated system seem to assume that I already have an account, so I choose to ‘hold if you have any other reason to call’. The lady on the other end asks me for my account number or order number and seems a little unnerved that I have neither. So instead she asks for my name and postcode and whether I’m the account holder. I politely explain I don’t have an account yet so she assumes I’m having registration problems. Once we get past all her assumptions I get a chance to explain that before I register I want to know more about likely delivery costs. I’m told that they are between £5 or £6 depending on the store and there is a minimum order value of £25.

At last I can make an informed decision. Seeing as I only need a couple of things for the weekend, and £6 seems an expensive delivery charge to me I decide to look for an alternative way to get to the store which is something I considered right at the beginning.

30 minutes later I’m left slightly aggravated and I still haven’t achieved my main goal.

If I was given the delivery cost, minimum order, and likelihood of receiving a delivery when I needed it on either website I would have had a good customer experience with them despite converting to an online customer. A positive customer experience with either Tesco or Sainsbury’s in combination with the knowledge of the delivery process is more likely to lead me to converting to an online customer in the future. Instead I’m left with the feeling that online grocery shopping is simply too much hassle.

A summary of usability and customer experience learning points for online grocery retailers:

  • clearly signposted decision making tools leading customers through their initial journey is likely to build confidence in the service
  • the registration process should be clean and free of unnecessary copy
  • every step in the registration process, particularly steps which lead customers away from the site (i.e. confirmation email) should be focused upon guiding customers to completing their goals with links back to the next stage in the process
  • deliver information on likely costs, availability and minimum order conditions should be made available clearly at the very beginning of the customer journey
  • customer profiles detailing likely customer goals, and mapping out customer journeys should be used by online grocery retailers to ensure their website and call centre staff don’t create unnecessary barriers though false assumptions assumptions which lead to barriers
  • If Tesco and Sainsbury’s had generated customer profiles and mapped out possible customer journeys to reaching likely goals, maybe they would have anticipated my goal and ensured the website and call centre staff could assist me in achieving it as quickly and easily as possible

Does your website or call centre help your customers achieve their goals quickly and easily?

Just as I was about to post this, I found an article suggesting that over 70% of consumers have not used online grocery shopping before. Judging by my brief dabble here, I can’t say I’m surprised.

 

 

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

Video on poor usability and software rage

10 Oct

Usability and software rage video

I’ve just watched a brilliantly funny but thought provoking talk by David Pogue on the TED website . Their strapline is ‘Ideas worth spreading’, so I thought I’d do just that: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/7

“New York Times technology columnist David Pogue opens his talk with a rousing musical number about the trials of customer support, then launches into some sharp commentary on “The Software Upgrade Paradox” (“Improve a piece of software enough times, you eventually ruin it”). Next he takes on the worst interface design offenders, the causes of “Software Rage.” After a couple of trips back to the piano, Pogue moves to the success stories, offering examples of products that celebrate the power of simplicity.”

 

 

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

Ideas for a more customer-centred team

8 Oct

customer centred team
Let’s say you have a large internal team. Although they’re great at what they do, you might find it hard to get them to really focus on delivering great customer experiences. You may have tried setting new targets, team structures, motivational techniques, and away days to focus on a new customer-centric vision, but you’re still not getting what you want from them.

How do you get your internal team to unite behind a common customer-centred vision?

Here’s what we’d suggest to get your team to focus more on customers:

1) Run some usability tests on your website and get your team to attend – usability tests are great eye openers for people who’ve never seen them before. If you can get an external company or a separate internal team to run usability tests at your location for 2 or 3 days, you can invite as many people as you can to go along and watch. An hour of watching customers struggle to use your website is a great way for people to really understand customer behaviour.

2) Set your team some typical customer goals to achieve – get them to follow them to their conclusion without using shortcuts, technical tricks or internal knowledge. By getting your team to put themselves in the shoes of your customers, they can see firsthand some of the barriers they experience. The shift from an internal perspective to an external one can be a great way to realign their understanding and focus.

3) Work with your team to generate customer profiles - brainstorming customer characteristics and needs in a group helps people to incorporate a wider view of customers into their perception. Once the customer profiles are committed to paper and everyone agrees to them, you’ll find that the team no longer uses elastic terms like ‘customer’, ‘user’, or ‘consumer’ to justify their own personal opinion. Instead they remove their ego and talk about what Bob, Mary and Joe need.

4) Challenge your team to justify their work from a customer perspective – whenever your team present an idea, proposal, new product, or feature, ask them how it helps the customer. If they tell you all about how it will help Mary to achieve her goals then you know you’re starting to see a more customer-centred view from your team.

5) Appoint a ‘customer representative’ in each team – by ensuring that every project team has someone who represents the customers’ best interests at all times, you help to promote more customer-centred debate within your team. The more they get used to anticipating questions and concerns raised by the customer representative, the more you’ll get results which really improve customer experience.

These are just a few of our ideas. What do you think? How else could a team unite to be more customer-centred?

 

 

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

The customer experience challenge for Multi channel retail

5 Oct

Pier 1 no longer multi channel

Offering consistently great customer experience across all channels as a retailer is at the top of retailer’s to do list at the moment. With such a large growth in the industry to date with sales exceeding £4bn a month for the first time, up 80% on last year according to Brand republic and with the industry expecting to triple in the next 5 years according to Verdict (UK e-retail report 2007 ) its no wonder that retailers are working long and hard at improving their online customer experience. UK retailers such as House of Fraser  and Karen Millen  have recently worked hard to add an e-commerce aspect to their online channel (we’ll be reviewing these soon).

Interestingly, the US retailer Pier 1 has instead just shut down its e-commerce and catalogue channels  in order to focus purely on their in-store customer experience. A message on their website states:

‘You’ve probably visited other websites that seem to have a lot but end up having much that’s “not available.” That’s bad. And that’s something we don’t want our customers to experience; therefore, starting September 1, 2007, pier1.com will no longer offer online purchasing. ‘

According to internetretailer.comPier 1 is ‘the second major chain retailer to exit e-commerce in recent years. TJX Companies Inc. discontinued retail sales at its sole e-commerce site for its T. J. Maxx and HomeGoods brands in October 2005.’

There are clear advantages for focusing on just a single channel as it allows the company some purity to focus on providing an excellent customer experience in one channel rather than spreading their resources, attention and profits thinly across a number of channels. We saw this recently with the serenata flowers review. Are we are going to see more of retailers choosing their choice of channels more wisely? Or is the trend in multi channel retail going to continue to grow across all retail sectors?

 

 

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees