Tag Archives: business goals vs customer goals

Trust, focus & upsell – 3 UX lessons from online florists

26 Mar

Trust, focus & upsell - 3 UX lessons from online florists

Recently I read a really interesting article on how airlines are looking to other industries like retail, automotive, and hospitality in an attempt to improve the passenger experience.  About time too!

Looking at other industries is good practice

It’s a common approach in business to look sideways at other industry best practices to generate ideas for improvement. Rather than just look at the quote form for an insurance provider for example, we would commonly also look at airlines, ticket booking sites, and hotel booking sites to see how they deal with the quote and buy process. We find that this approach typically sparks great ideas, which would have been missed if we had only looked at direct competitors.
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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 after-sales anti-complaints process

29 Jun

It’s a well known fact that us Brits hate to complain. Instead, we like to keep quiet, seethe internally, and then vote with our feet and never use the service again. But there are occasions where you know you need to complain to get something done about the poor experience you’ve had. You might need to get a refund, get an answer to a problem, or get someone to do something about your situation.

So you’re feeling angry, frustrated, and probably stressed that you now have another item to deal with on your growing to do list. Faced with the daunting task of having to contact a company to complain, the last thing you need is a tough time finding a way to complain. Enter the anti-complaint process. Where companies make it very hard for you to complain.

So how does a company employing the ‘anti-complaint process’ operate? It’s pretty simple really. The company offers several pathways which appear to lead you to somewhere to get help, but in reality they lead you to FAQs, a generic helpdesk email, or a generic phone number offering no option to speak with customer services or customer complaints.

The Comet complaints process

Consider the example I had recently where Comet had come to install a washing machine I purchased from them. During the installation a water pipe was damaged which caused a leak. We ended up with no running water (and no working washing machine). Naturally I wasn’t pleased so sought out a way to contact customer service or complaints on their website.

After finding a generic contact number to call I was routed through to the Installations team. Unfortunately they could not help me and said instead I would need to submit a complaint. I asked for the complaints team number but was told there wasn’t one and instead all complaints were done in a complaints section on the website.

 

 

Eventually I found an a way to enter a complaint but this was difficult to find as there was no ‘complaints’ section. It also gave very little confidence that the enquiry would be dealt with in a timely manner, or any information on what team the enquiry was even going to.

The Google Adwords complaints process

Another example I noticed recently was on the Google Adwords site. Our site was hacked and resulted in Google suspending our Adwords account until we cleared the problem and asked them to review. The process had taken 9 days with no feedback from Google so I wanted to escalate my issue to customer services or complaints to get a response. I called Google and was told that there was no customer services or customer complaints department to speak to, and again I had to complete the complaints form on the website.

Although I found the form eventually, had I not been told that there was a complaint form I would never have been able to find it.

In both examples the companies had made it difficult to make a complaint. It could be argued that they had simply prioritised other more common user journeys instead, however one of the common reasons to make contact with a company is to speak with customer services regarding a problem with an order or your account. In both examples these journeys were made difficult. Whether they were made deliberately difficult is up for debate. The sceptic in me believes they are: the harder it is to complain, the less complaints they receive, the less staff they need to deal with complaints, so the more money they save. But if they are by accident, it shows they place little value on the after sales customer experience.

Customers who have paid for a service should be happy with their experience. In our research we find that users place equal importance on the after sales experience as the pre-sales experience. When things go wrong, if customers are forced to work hard to even talk to someone they will feel cheated and unimportant. If a company is unable to allow users to speak to someone directly using a complaints number, then the least they should do is allow users to access complaints contact forms easily on their website.

The John Lewis complaints process

As you might imagine with their great reputation for customer service, John Lewis offer a very good example of how to do this properly.

 

 

 

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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 difference between marketing profiles and user profiles

16 Sep

Personas Image

At University we always designed for the ‘target audience’, broadly meaning; the people who would use the product/website etc. Sounds simple and straightforward enough, and yet I always struggled with it, but never understood why.

 

So, what does a ‘target audience’ include?

The first thing we were told was to simply think about; who do you think will use the product? What job do they have? Where do they live? What activities will they do? How much money will they earn? Down to what clothes would they wear?

At university the ‘target audience’ was always something I personally struggled with. Trying to cater to an invisible audience that I had to define before the product idea had been fully developed stumped me every time. I just couldn’t get a grip on generalising (as I saw it) to that scale, trying to come up with minute details for these peoples’ lives so that I could design specifically for all of them. Now that left me feeling a bit stupid, but I was never told exactly what I was looking for in a target audience, how to work that out and how it should influence my concept and design. Needless to say I was never taught user profiling.

It wasn’t until I started my role here at ES that it finally clicked, and I understood why I had had so much trouble with the ‘target audience’ aspect at university. What I learned from the guys here is that there are two types of profiling that happen within the sphere of a target audience; a marketing profile, and a user profile. They appear to be the same thing, and it took some patience on their part in order to communicate to me what the specific differences were between the profiles we make, compared to the profiles that are generally thought to represent that of the customer.

 

Marketing Profiles – a look at where they work, what car they drive…

Marketing profiles, generally speaking, are what companies use to determine how they can sell products and services to their prospective customers; what paper do they read, where do they live, what car do they drive, what their household income is, etc. They need to know this sort of personal information so they can target, design for, respond to, and basically pander to the customer’s interests and habits.

This information helps them to speak in the right language, at the right level. It helps them to advertise in specific publications. It knows what TV programs they are most likely to watch, and therefore where to place their ads. This of course is all relevant when trying to publicise the company. For example, your marketing profile might look like this:

“Mary, a 35 year old mother of two, household income of £60k, drives a VW Golf, reads the    Daily Mail, uses the internet mainly for emails and shopping, lives in the South East”

But how does this help to prioritise the content and functionality on a website?

 

User Profiles – focusing on the individuals goal

On the other hand, a user profile focuses on the goals of people who will use the service. When creating a user profile there are a different set of questions which must be thought about, for example; what is the user’s goal? Why do they need to achieve this? How quickly do they need to achieve this? And what steps do they need to go through to reach their goal?

If we take an online balloon retailer who needs their site redesigned, a user profile for that site would look something like this:

“Mary, her daughter’s birthday party is in two weeks, she needs 20 balloons that will ideally have    her daughter’s name (Louise) on and be pink in colour”

Of course these questions will be affected by such things as who the individual is and what kind of job they may do, however it is not dependant on all, or sometimes any of those factors at one time. It doesn’t matter if I am a mum, sister, or friend planning a birthday party for someone, I will still need to buy 20 balloons. That is my end goal which I want to be as simple, easy, and stress free as possible.

 

So what did I learn?

Although I still feel mildly ignorant for not having figured this out by myself, I now see where I went wrong at Uni. A user profile, and decent understanding of the goals your end-user will want to achieve, should be the main force driving the design of a products core structure. A marketing profile can then be used to help decide on the visuals and aesthetic appeal to appeal to the use once the site is built in a user-friendly way.

What do your profiles look like, and how do you use them?

 

 

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Samantha Harvey

About Samantha Harvey

Sam recently graduated from Visual Communication. She joined our team in April 2011 and has been conducting user research and has been making sure our user interfaces follow good design principles. She's keen to point out our poor selection of fonts... er I mean typography (sorry Sam). Follow Samantha on twitter @samharvey_ux

Pukka miss an opportunity to design a great customer experience

7 Feb

Pukka teas are a brand that’s easy to like. They present themselves as a healthy, organic company. They have a nice overall feel, they have good quality products, their packaging is appealing, their website is…well, ok.

 

Pukka Customer Experience

 

So, over the years while I’ve been a customer, I’ve found a few teas that I really like. But I have tried some that I don’t like so much too. I know they have quite a big range so every time I see their invitation for free samples on the inside of their box I think “one day I should do that”. I can try out a bunch of different teas, and expand my horizons a little. Pukka get more money from me and everyone’s happy. Every time I found myself in the supermarket to buy some new teas I looked at their range, hungry to try something new but wary of buying a whole box if I didn’t like the taste. And every time I would kick myself for not filling in that free sample form!

 

My goal was clear: Broaden taste horizons by sampling different teas without having to commit to a whole box in case I didn’t like them

So after lots of times telling myself I should, 2 weeks ago I finally did. I went to the website and filled in the form with anticipation. Then after completely forgetting about it, this weekend I received a small package in my letter box.

Pukka Service Design 1Pukka Service Design 2

 

Excited when I saw it was from Pukka, my next thought was it looked a little small. I opened it up to find 2 free tea bags, both of which I had tried before. Excitement turned to disappointment, which then turned to anger. I’d wasted my efforts in filling out the form and telling myself off every time I hadn’t filled in the form.

 

Pukka Customer Journey

 

Pukka could turn customers into brand advocates
Pukka had an opportunity to turn me from a regular customer to a loyal customer who spends more money with them and who will potentially go on to become an advocate to recommend the free samples to their friends. Allowing Pukka to grow their customer base and increase their customer data capture from their free samples form. Instead they offer a sub standard customer experience, leaving me frustrated and much less likely to fully engage with the brand further. Although they haven’t done enough to stop me from being a customer altogether, its unlikely I’ll ever try out the other options in their range and will just stick to what I know until I find an alternative brand which interests me more.

 

Cost to send tea samples vs. benefit of delighting customers
If the issue is one of cost in sending out a bunch of free samples then there are different ways to look at it. One would be to give customers the option to indicate which teas they have tried and which they haven’t. Alternatively Pukka could look at the opportunity to create loyal customers or customer advocates who will bring them more customers. They may decide that the cost associated with sending a larger number of free samples is worth it to acquire new customers and larger purchases from repeat customers.

 

Pukka took an opportunity to delight and instead replaced it with one which frustrated and angered. Are you making the most of your opportunities to delight your customers?

 

 

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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

Getting the balance right between website business goals and user goals

15 Dec

Pushy sales guy

Our primary function as a business is to bring our clients closer to the users of their website. It’s difficult to remain objective and see things from your users perspective when it’s your website. When you have conceived ideas, directed the look and feel and even written the copy. You know your website and your organisation inside out and you know what you want to achieve with your site.

 

Users don’t care about your business

When we put users in front of your site, they don’t care about what you want them to do, they don’t care about your business, they just need to get things done. It can be really difficult for us to break this news to our clients sometimes, but more often than not users don’t care about you, they are too focused on all the things they need to get done. Finding out more about how great your company is hasn’t made it to their to do list.

 

You need to make a decision about your website

If you run a website, you need to make a decision. You can either continue to push the objectives of your company and go on the hard sell, or you can accept that you are not that important in the users eyes, and focus on helping them instead. We encourage our clients to think of their site in terms of a sales person just inside the door of a showroom. As the customer walks through the door, what type of sales person do you want to be? The pushy sales guy, or the genuine sales assistant?

 

The pushy sales guy website

The pushy sales guy website acts something like this when a customer walks in the door/enters the website:

Top heavy business goals

Unfortunately, this type of website is quite common. The homepage is all about the organisation and all the navigation and calls to action are designed to push the business goals without any real thought for what users goals might be.

 

The helpful sales guy website

The helpful, genuine sales guy on the other hand might go something like this:

 

Balanced business goals

 

Focus on user goals and you’ll satisfy your business goals

Ok, so this is all a little oversimplified perhaps, but in principle we find the websites that really frustrate users are those which are too inwardly focused and over prioritise their business goals over their users’ goals. In contrast, the websites we find users naturally want to use again and again are those which balance the needs of their business with the needs of their users. By ensuring their users can find what they are looking for quickly and easily, they generate more repeat business and more sales as a result. A genuine focus on user priorities generates a big difference to their business goals.

 

Does your website act like a pushy sales guy?

 

 

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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

Does web-retargeting benefit or just scare users?

4 Oct

Retargeting Example  - click to see image in more detail

Retargeting example – See larger image

As part of a casual query, I once typed in my car registration into a certain site that offers to purchase absolutely any vehicle. Scoffing at their derisory offer for my motor, I went on to live a full and happy life, and part-exchanged my car for multiples more than the site offered.

However, for the next month, almost every advert I came across on any website was a reminder of how much this company, that will acquire any auto for money, would offer for my, now crushed, car. Friends have reported similar experiences on a range of shopping sites, where your previous interest in an item can haunt you like a marketing-oriented poltergeist.

This technique, known as retargeting is an online advertising model where ecommerce websites can re-connect with past website visitors to remind them of what they had looked at with the hope of stimulating a sale. If you forgot what site you were on or what exactly you were looking for, then it can prove a useful reminder. But, if you were looking for a present for a partner, or for, ahem, a sensitive medical or entertainment item, then it might come as a bit of a shock to anyone else who uses your PC.

Whilst its an obvious benefit to businesses, with some companies offering a no-conversion, no-fee model, there may be some user experience concerns which may not be fully considered when deciding to kick-off a retargeting campaign.

 

High-wire balancing act, without a net

If you want to attempt this kind of approach on your site, then you need the kind of balance that would do Man on Wire proud. Most sites that engage in the activity of retargeting use a third-party service, such as TellApart or Criteo. Over time, these services have responded to the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) over retargeting and improved their user communications to make it easier for a user to understand why their shopping searches are suddenly following you around the web, and to disable them.

Why are you being shown this banner?

Explaining to users why they are being shown retargeting ads

 

Kicking off a retargeting campaign must consider user experience

If you do decide to use such a service to promote your site, you should be aware of the potential pitfalls involved in customers feeling stalked by you. Privacy is a big concern for customers and comes up again and again in our research. If customers feel like their privacy is under attack, however small "the attack" may be, they may associate negative feelings with your brand. Rather than initiate sales and inspire revisits, you may well result in negative reviews and less repeat visits.  

If you choose to use retargeting then you should enquire as to whether you can limit it to certain ranges, perhaps high value items, as no one wants to be chased across the web for a book purchase. Also, ensure a reasonable time limit is in place as well. On the whole, think about it from the user’s point of view.  

Ultimately, when it comes to adding new features that could cause even mild confusion among your user-base or site visitors, remember to treat them with kid gloves. Users do not like surprises and they hate any infringements on their perceived privacy. While the marketing spiel from a retargeting company may offer the world and massive ROI, its benefits will be countered by accepting that some users may be completely turned off by retargeting and may damage brand perception.

 

What do you think of retargeting?

 

 

 

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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

Small changes can make a big difference to customer experience

5 Sep

Credit Card Machine

I paid for a train ticket over the counter yesterday. As I completed the transaction I nearly walked off leaving my Debit card in the PIN machine. As I turned back to the machine to retrieve the card the chap behind the counter said something along the lines of, “That was lucky. We’ve already had three people leave their cards here this morning.”

Three people, this morning, have walked away leaving their card in the machine. Can you imagine arriving for a day in London and realising you’ve left your Debit card somewhere? Pretty stressful huh?

If your customers are suffering – take action

So having already experienced people leaving their cards, would it not be courteous to remind customers to remove their cards after the transaction?

Since Chip & PIN, all organisations have had to invest heavily in installing new equipment to cater to the new technology. However, I can’t help but ask myself if some of this technology either hasn’t been thought through properly, or is not being used properly.

Technology shouldn’t create customer experience issues

If the staff working behind a counter are unable to see the Chip & PIN machine it would be useful for their screen to inform them that the card has not been removed. They can then prompt the customer. Like most ‘simple’ fixes, it becomes less simple to fix once the technology is complete.

If the full customer journey and scenarios are planned and mapped out prior to build, these minor details will be catered for. And if customers are introduced to the project early, to test a prototype, the barriers will be highlight and dealt with before these ‘simple’ issues become costly fixes.

Do you involve customers in your project process early enough?

Related services: Customer Journey Mapping and Usability Evaluation & Testing

 

 

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Ali Carmichael

About Ali Carmichael

Ali (or Alasdair) is an experienced project manager who loves his Gantt charts and milestones! He has over 12 years' experience managing successful online experiences for world class brands. Ali is responsible for ensuring our clients love what we do for them. Follow Ali on twitter @AliJCarmichael

Rigid process can hamper customer experience

23 Aug

One of our major supermarkets does a great pizza, which they make for you whilst you wait. I must say, they do taste good. If you order your pizza at the beginning of your shop, ten minutes later when you’ve picked up your other groceries, it is ready to take away. It has won awards.

I was a little miffed on Friday evening when I had to wait forty minutes for my pizza. Here’s what happened:

On ordering my pizza the young lady informed me that she was on her own so it may not be ready for twenty minutes. Excellent! I’ve been informed about the extra time, and although it is inconvenient I look through the magazine and book department. However, when I return after twenty minutes my pizza is not ready. The poor girl is working through a long list of pizzas, with a queue of people waiting and ordering more.

The employee experience is an important aspect of customer experience

Whilst the pizza backlog grew, two other employees are working at the same counter, but on cooked chickens and Indian/Chinese take away. There are no queues for these offerings, yet the two members of staff have a joke, pack up some chicken, go out back, come back again, pack a couple more chickens, and serve the odd customer. Not once, in the twenty minutes I waited, did I see them look to the poor pizza girl, let alone offer to help out. I got quite angry at this.
When I finally got my pizza I assured the girl that she had done a great job, little good it did her, and paid for my groceries. On leaving I visited the customer services desk to complain and stand up for the girl on the pizza counter. The lady informed me that the other two staff were unable to help out on pizza due to health and safety. On realising how daft this sounded she phoned through to a manager. After a five minute conversation I was informed that the chicken must be closed down before any help can be supplied to the pizza counter. I gave up!

Business process can remove common sense thinking

The help of one member of staff for fifteen minutes would have reduced the backlog and the queue. So the internal process looks to be wrong as employees stick to the process rather than helping their customers.
This can happen with rigid process. Employees do not see things from another point of view because they are blinkered by process. I’m not sure why the Managers didn’t do anything about it. But then I didn’t see any managers. Maybe they were following a process out the back?

Process is good, but it must allow for flexibility to ensure common sense prevails. Especially when good customers experience is at risk. By simply ensuring the process includes some thought provoking questions like:

  • Is there a problem here?
  • What do I need to do to resolve the problem?
  • If this was my company, what would I do differently?

These questions provide the opportunity for all employees to step outside the process to think for themselves.

Does your internal process ensure an excellent experience for your customers?

Related services: Customer Experience Research and Customer Requirements Capture

 

 

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Ali Carmichael

About Ali Carmichael

Ali (or Alasdair) is an experienced project manager who loves his Gantt charts and milestones! He has over 12 years' experience managing successful online experiences for world class brands. Ali is responsible for ensuring our clients love what we do for them. Follow Ali on twitter @AliJCarmichael