Tag Archives: customer experience journal

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

Online security questions. Is there an easy answer?

24 Aug

To survive the day to day dangers of using the Internet I use a range of passwords, user names, and email addresses, all created to make my online world more secure. And, like most people we observe in user testing, am pretty used to having to answer or create a security question when registering on websites.

But this one caused me quite a while of hesitation…

Can you see why?

 

Why do security questions cause such a usability problem?

I was applying for tickets to the 2012 London Olympics (above), and I was offered three security questions. I provide these below with an explanation of why I was unsure what to do:

What is your best friend’s name?

This caused me a few concerns. Firstly, I consider myself to be pretty even to my close friends and don’t regard any of them as a ‘best friend’. Secondly, I would actually feel guilty if I had to choose one over others. Thirdly, I wouldn’t remember which friend I chose when I come back to the site in January to get my tickets. Maybe I should have chosen my wife!

Who is your favourite sportsperson?

I’m 34. I like football. When there is no football, I follow a bit of tennis, some athletics when it is on, and the odd game of rugby. I don’t have a favourite sportsperson. If I had to choose one now, how would I remember this in five months time when I return to the site?

What is your favourite food?

I’m a bit of a foody. I dabble in cooking but am lost without Jamie Oliver. So I like lots of food. Asking for my favourite food is like asking for my favourite song, or movie. It completely depends on how I’m feeling. So when I’m asked this question in August, I’m feeling summer food; barbeques, Mediterranean, crazy salads, summer fruits. When I’m asked in January it will be comfort food, hearty food, soups and pies.

So the common issue I had with all these questions was that I simply could not answer any of them with confidence. I had a discussion with my wife. I pondered. I questioned. In the end I just had to jump in a choose one with the expectation that I’ll struggle with this next time I come to use the site. What kind of user experience is that?

 

What makes a good security question?

The reason for these security questions is to back up who you are should you forget your other security details (username, passwords, etc.) and testing often proves inconclusive in finding the ultimate security question, especially if your audience is international.

When asking a security question, the question and answer should be:-

  • Easy for an individual to answer confidently
  • Not obvious enough for hackers to guess or research
  • Not subjective, open to interpretation, or reliant on mood and feeling
  • There can clearly be only one answer

Yahoo! attempt and tackle this with a range of options for users to choose. As long as you’re not a young and single only child to a single mum who has no siblings! Which just shows how difficult a problem this is!

The commonality with good security questions that we come across are those asking for firsts; your first pet’s name, your first school, your first musical instrument. But like any security question we can come up with, there will be a percentage of users who can’t answer it.

In some cases, users are able to write their own question and answer. However, this poses an issue for websites that need good security because users may choose an easy question (for someone else to guess), i.e. Who won the World Cup in 2010?

 

How do we instil good usability and incorporate a security question?

I’m no expert in online security, but we use PIN numbers for our bank and credit cards, so could this system be added to secure websites?

If we must use security questions, allow users to have some control but ensure the answers are not easy. Ask users to complete a question, and provide an answer. For example:

Alternative secret question

This would require usability testing in contex before it was used. But it may help to make the process easier for users to create a more secure secret question.

We would be very keen to hear how other people have resolved this issue. What good and bad examples of security questions have you come across?

 

 

Related services: Usability Testing & Information Architecture

 

 

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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

Weekly usability checklist

18 Sep

usability-checklist-image

For many in the retail industry a regular shop walkthrough is an essential part of the manager’s role to ensure the environment is clean, the products are in the right places, and the shelves are stocked. Do you do the same checks on your website?

Your website is just like a retailer’s shop floor, it’s your front of house. How much time do you spend reviewing your website in a week? How often do your staff, or other team members, spend on the website every week? Ask them. You may be shocked to find that no-one is regularly checking the site. What are you waiting for? Customers to complain? Sales to drop? Traffic to plummet?

Stop waiting and start implementing a set of regular and very simple tasks to ensure that your site is checked on a weekly basis. Websites grow organically and although there’s no substitute for regular usability testing, there are methods you and your team can do adopt to keep a check on your site to ensure usability issues don’t develop as the site grows. After we work with a client to improve the usability of their website we provide them with a checklist to use which helps them maintain usability, you can download it here for free.

pdf-icon1Download our Weekly Usability Checklist for you and your team to maintain good usability on your site. Feel free to pass it on to colleagues

Some of these may seem overly simplistic, but many companies are not carrying out these fundamental checks on a regular basis. If you and your staff were to spend 10 minutes a day or an hour a week just running through some of these simple checks you can be confident that you are keeping your front of house in check and giving your site visitors no encouragement to go back to Google to visit your competitors

Are you keeping your site in check?

Related services: Usability testing, and User experience audit

 

 

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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

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

The online gambling user experience fails to support ‘newbies’

27 May

Betting user experience

According to a recent article I read, there are over 5,000 people employed in the UK online gambling sector today. Judging by my recent experiences, few of them have ‘user experience’ in their job title. What amazed me was how most of the sites I looked at were clearly not focused upon the novice gambler experience. Maybe they work seamlessly for a seasoned gambler, but for a ‘newbie’ like me, it was so painful that I gave up in the end.

Betting on the next Chelsea manager

Before this weekend there’s been a lot of debate among fellow Chelsea fans over whether Avram Grant will still be Chelsea manager next season. So much so, that I began to feel pretty strongly about the whole thing and in a debate I was challenged to put my money where my mouth was. So that’s what I decided to do. The idea of going online to place a bet felt a lot less daunting than walking into a betting shop, so I started working my way through a few of the more well known gambling sites. Before long I found myself very confused.

Most, if not all the websites I looked at have no ability to search, which I found distressing as they assumed that I knew exactly what I was looking for and where to find it. Finding the Football or Soccer sections seemed to be a struggle and, even when I did, I found nothing that would allow me to bet on the next Chelsea manager. Overwhelmed by the bombardment of ads, promotions and betting options, I struggled to find a betting site that would guide a new user to make clear decisions. I found that I could bet on almost any competition I liked that was happening now or in the immediate future. I could even bet on who would win the Premiership next season, but there was absolutely nothing on future manager predictions. Since this weekend where Grant was sacked, many of the sites now have clear promotions to the various betting options leaving me frustrated that these weren’t clearly available only a week ago.

Little support for gambling ‘newbies’

Intrigued by the online betting user experience, I decided to continue my investigation by looking at the betting for Euro 2008. Although most of the sites listed the betting options in order, from the favourites to the least favourites, I still managed to get myself confused when trying to work out odds like 13/8. Like most other betting ‘newbies’ I just want to know how much I can win if I bet a certain amount, but very few sites let me work this out without forcing me to take the bold step of actually placing a bet.

Many of the sites listing Euro 2008 betting options required a certain level of understanding of gambling terminology with terms like ‘Antepost Betting’ and ‘Double Chance’. These sites made me feel like I didn’t belong, but even worse, they made me feel stupid. As a new user, I required: good navigation allowing me to quickly find what I wanted to bet on, some tools to help me decide which bets might be sound than others (e.g. links to football statistics), a clear way to understand the different betting options, and a method of clearly working out what I would win on each bet.

Poor online user experience

It’s predicted that in 2 years time, the UK gambling market will increase to £1.6bn with 2.1m active gamblers. This growth can be achieved much quicker if these sites paid more attention to improving their user experience.

Customer acquisition and retention are key in the online betting market with the number of sites competing for business. The sites which take the biggest market share over the coming years are likely to be those investing in customer experience for people new to online betting. I found it surprising the barriers customers have to overcome before converting.

Understanding customer requirements and improving usability is not an expensive endeavour, but all too often we see websites that fail to meet the needs of large groups of their audience, and on the face of it, the online betting market appears to be no different.

Are you meeting the needs of your customers online?

 

Related services: Customer requirements capture, Usability testing, and Customer experience research

 

 

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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

Multi-channel retail experiences don't live up to expectations

20 Mar

multi-channel retail experiences

Within the retail market there is a lot of talk about Multi-Channel, where services are provided via multiple touchpoints. Most commonly, this refers to a website and a shop floor. So it was interesting to see that one of the UKs largest retailers is still experiencing gaps between what it offers in-store, what it promotes online, and what level of understanding its staff has.

This example was experienced as a bit of research I was undertaking to review the online experience of buying an affordable suit. I was testing the website, but as part of the user journey I needed to visit the store to reach my goal. Here’s what happened:

The website promoted a suit, shirt and tie combo for £32, which was exactly what my user profile was looking for but it wasn’t available to buy on-line. My user profile was not fond of shopping, and certainly didn’t want to go all the way to the store only to find they had no stock. So I called my local branch. The polite lady that I spoke to was not aware of such a combo offer, and informed me that their in-store stock was often different to that on the website. So my journey ended there and I hadn’t reached my goal. Well, out of character, I decided to pop into the store to have a look for myself. And guess what? I found a suit for £26, a shirt for £4, and a tie for £3. A suit, shirt and tie combo for £32.

So what has happened here? If your retail website does not allow you to buy the products online, then users will expect them to be available in store, and will also expect that when you mention the online products to the sales assistants then they will know what it is you are referring to. The key mistake made in this is example is that the retailer did not provide sufficient information and training to its in-store staff about the products and promotions currently live on the website. The impact of this is a potential online customer, happy to buy in store, is let down when he crosses channels. The retailer loses out on a sale, and the customer has to begin their journey again and go elsewhere.

Successful companies will need to provide its services across multiple touchpoints (shop floor, web site, call centre, brochure, etc.), but those that will come out on top will review all their touchpoints together as one solution and roll out each channel to provide a consistent experience and enhance the customer journey.

Is your multi-channel experience consistent across all your touchpoints?

Related services: Customer Experience Research, User Experience Audit, and Customer Journey Mapping

 

 

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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

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