Are Your Customers Delighted?

Posted on 06 February 2013

It’s not enough to offer a product or service that’s merely functional. Customers expect a pleasant, even delightful, experience every step of the way.

When you’re a customer yourself, don’t you get annoyed when:

  • the food in a restaurant is OK but the décor is horrible, the music’s too loud, the waiter is rude and the bathrooms aren’t clean?
  • a product is badly designed, you can’t figure out how to use it, and the user manual makes no sense?
  • the online process for registering and paying for an event is so slow and complicated that you give up without completing the transaction?
  • you call a company and hear one of those “Your call is important to us; please hold” recorded messages for 20 minutes?
  • an airline loses your luggage?

In all of those situations, the company is antagonising you (and probably other customers too). Thanks to social media, news about bad customer experiences spreads quickly. And that can be really bad for business. So what can business owners and marketers do about it? They need to manage the user experience, every step of the way.

On January 9, I attended an informative talk titled “Understanding User Experience”, with guest speaker Mikaal Abdulla of 8 Securities (he’s @mikaalabdulla on twitter). The talk was presented by the Hong Kong branch of General Assembly, “a global network of campuses for individuals seeking opportunity and education in technology, business, and design”.

Just to explain: “User Experience” (UX) doesn’t just mean the usability of a website – it’s all about how a customer buys and uses your product or service, whether online or in the real world.

Mikaal’s key points included:

  • Good design is not about how it looks but about how it works.
  • Customers always have an alternative, so to retain them you have to offer a better, frictionless user experience.
  • As an entrepreneur or business executive, you have to find a balance between trusting your intuition (your gut feeling about what will work in the marketplace) and trusting the hard evidence (data).
  • Asking people what they want, or what they will want, might not yield useful information, because customers don’t always know what they want.
  • Never outsource anything that’s core to your customers’ UX.
  • You don’t necessarily need to re-invent your product – just re-invent the process and the UX (because from a customer’s point of view, the process and the UX are an integral part of the product).

He also spoke about some examples of excellent UX:

  • Stitcher – an app for online radio shows and podcasts
  • American Express – the credit card company
  • TripIt – a travel app that aggregates information about your flights, hotel bookings, car rentals…
  • Zappos – the shoe company. They offer no-cost, no-risk returns within one year; there’s no hard sell, and they build UX into the corporate culture by empowering everyone.

Finally, here are three resources about UX that I’ve come across recently:

The lesson: EVERYTHING about your business affects people’s experiences and perceptions of your products and services. So if you’re not getting it right, you could be losing business.

Action steps: In your business, identify every “touch point” and process, and make the UX as seamless, frictionless and enjoyable as possible. Also, monitor the results and listen to the feedback every day, and adjust quickly.

What are YOU doing to offer a consistently excellent UX to your customers? Do you have any tips about UX?

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