Should businesses care about user experience ?

Should business (shareholders) care about this "experience" fad ?

They should if it provides growth (in revenues and profitability). It is important that experience stuff is understood by people beyond the marketing department. CEO should know it for sure.

Why care for user experience beyond the sales booth :

  • a. Users as Marketeers - viral marketing !! A happy user will tell good stories about (or around) your product to his friends / family.
  • b. Loyal Customer - Everyone who cares for loyality (because new customer acquisition is costly), should worry about user experience beyond the sales booth.
  • c. Cross sell - a happy customer will try more products from you.
  • d. Avoid activitists - ensure that customers don't become activists against your company.
  • e. Market research - involved user would tell you about market need. What people want. The chepeast and most effective market research / feedback.
Can one influence the experience without control over the context ?

General concept in experience economy is that a well defined /designed context can provide a greater experience. But there are many more levers in the hands of a designer/CEO/ marketing/ Engineering to influence the user experience.

Product as commandos :Think of your products as commandos who infilterate user environment. Commodos should survive and accomplish mission(spread the goodword) independantly in uncontrollable territory.

One can segment products /services as :

  • 1. Happily ever after - sell once, and buyer never comes back to you. (not to confuse with only-once-in-a-lifetime product).
  • 2. See you soon - comeback because of wear and tear or boredom or new improved version.
  • 3. Refill - comeback for refill
  • 4. @ your service - continuous contact, else no service.

Is there an experience if you are not in contact with customer. Yes, because your product (even in 1 category) is interacting with him/ her beyond your shop.

Usually type 4 (@ your service) kind of businesses use the experience stuff (Disney park, Starbucks ...). But even category 1,2 businesses such as Harley Davidson, Apple.. are influencing user experience much beyond the sales desk. If context is the main lever, it is important that businesses create more interaction points / contexts for influencing user experience. Don't just have support department, everyone in the business has an interest in post sales interactions. itunes is a great place to interact with the users.

So how to reinvent products /services to use this theory ?

Think of relationships. Friends, family, spouse etc. That is understand the orbits of user experience.

What would you do to become a relation (friend or ...or spouse) - Use same principles in product /service design. Check this for parameters for reaching deeper levels of human experience orbits.

Technology doesn't know it is dealing with humans

Walgreens has been calling my home (through an automatic message)reminding me to collect my photos., which I had already collected 3 months back. "Oh ! maybe our system didn't update it" excused the clerk, as if it is common occurance for her, when I went today to inform them of the harassing voice messages. She checked and confirmed that there were no photos pending on my name. Then she deleted the entry on computer.

If their computer system is smart enough to alert them of un-collected packages, why couldn't they tally with their inventory and update it ?

Using technology, they did create a automatic voice message system, but ignored that it could sometimes behave erratically and irritate me - the customer.
Do not rely too much on technology, customer is a human being and can get pissed off with simple errors in that.

Second experience at Walgreens

I picked up a shake-it-torchlight for my kid, along with other things. This was stocked near the cashier counter and had no price label.

"tell me how much this torch costs" I said.

"I don't know, have to check in the back shelves" he said " maybe $5 or $6... would you buy"

He catalyzed my decision not to buy that. A positive answer would have encouraged me to buy that for my kid.

You don't need technology for that. Big organizations rely on "human" / untrained humans, who fail to see the impact on customer experience.

Free is most abused word

Yesterday, I was offered a free chocolate box at RiteAID pharmacy.

Why ?

"I don't know... my manager told me to... it's free.." the clerk said.

I have no idea why they do that - not know why they give off a $7.25 box for free.

I did take the box suspicously. It neither made me thankful, nor grateful nor loyal to RiteAID.

In fact I grew suspicious of them.

Did "FREE-CHOCOLATE-BOX-SCHEME" designer imagine that it could have negative experential response?

Hugh Macleod offered to include my(anyone's) blog-rss on his bloglines.

Did you also think the same as I thought,

"what's the catch ?"