The Effortless User Experience

The other days I was reading The effortless experience — Conquering new battle ground for customer loyalty by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick Delisi. The book was a really good read and what I loved most about it was that every single statement was backed up by data and numbers. So, if you are interested in customer support and how to make the most out of it, I recommend you read this book. I guarantee some aha moments along the way.

However, the purpose of this article is not to review the book or to talk about it. What I want to share with you are a few UX design principles that I concluded after reading the book which I think will make a very good basis for my future design thinking.

1. Delighting customers doesn’t pay off if you don’t meet their needs first

I think that nowadays we run into this problem more and more often. We hear companies always talking about delighting their customers, but we hear less and less about understanding what the customers are searching for when they are on our website/app. It’s like everybody has things figured out and all they think about now is how to bring the experience to a new level.

But the reality is far from that. Most of the time, you see frustrated people who just expect to receive what they were promised from the brand that they are using.

Let me give an example: recently I bought a “smart” washing machine (the reason for putting smart in quotes is because the only thing that makes it smart is being connected to the internet). The whole reason for buying this machine, aside from playing with yet another interesting gadget, was to be able to control it remotely (ok, ok, make fun of me, but sometimes I forget to turn on the washing machine). However, trying to connect to the app was a nightmare:

First of all, you had to wait for 300 seconds for the machine to connect to WiFi.

Of course that it will automatically disconnect and then you will have to go through the same process again and wait for another 300s (in the era when a mili-second is important).

After doing some reading, I found out that the washing machine was supporting only 2,4ghz WiFi network.

There was absolutely no error code or no extra information telling me this in the app, I just couldn’t connect so I started looking for possible reasons. This was one of them.

After I connected to WiFi, country codes nightmare shows up

After managing to connect to WiFi in the end, I couldn’t connect the washing machine to the app because of some error regarding the country codes (even though my partner and I chose the same country).

Next natural step was to go online to troubleshoot my problem

I read on the internet that I am not the only one who is having this problem, but there is no solution that I could find. So I decided to contact Samsung on social media.

The support agent tells me that they are aware of this problem and that they have a hotline number only for this issue. I call the number only to find out that they actually don’t offer support for that app and they refer me back to their website (where I was obviously looking in the first place).

So I guess that you have a better understanding now of what I mean when I say that first we should focus on simply meeting the customer’s expectations and then think of how you can delight your customer.

But, please, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try wow-ing our customers, but we should first make sure that we understand why they came to us and that try to meet their needs.

2. The key to mitigating disloyalty is reducing customer effort.

So, if you read the story above, you can imagine how much effort I put into installing that app (if you can’t imagine, I’ll tell you: around 2 hours).

My point is: KISS — Keep It Short and Simple

Understand the flows of your user, understand their intentions and understand their expectations. With these in mind, you have to make sure that your customer won’t have to think what to do next as you, as a UX Designer, will makes things explicit from s/he. And even if there are flows that you can’t simplify, try to see what are the biggest pain points in the customer journey and offer as much support as you can. Don’t let them become frustrated as the chances of reviews about you and your company are higher when the experience is a negative one.

3. Don’t just solve the current issue, head off to the next issue.

A good user experience means being always one step ahead, predicting the next issue that your user might run into and offer solutions for this.

For example, in the case of the smart washing machine, if Samsung was already aware of this problem (which they were), I would have expected to receive an email with a few extra information about what I have to do to connect to their app without becoming frustrated. Or even have this in the specs of the washing machine — so I can make an informed decision about the pros and cons of buying this washing machine.

4. Choose your metrics wisely.

Define your success in a measurable way and make sure you don’t use generic metrics.

For example, one of the most common used metrics is NPS (net promoter score). However this can be influenced by a lot of things: the general experience that the user had with the brand, the quality of the content, the path the user took, the intention of the user when they arrive on your website, etc. This is a good metric to have if you want to have an overview of your general user experience perception.

But my advice would be to go for metrics that can be linked to specific actions. For example, in the case of Samsung, they could measure their success by measuring the percentage of people downloading the app vs how many people successfully connect the app to the washing machine. Or how many people end up calling the support centre or on the support page and how many people return the devices because of this issue.

5. Engineer your experience

If things don’t work, and sometimes that just happens, the way you communicate this makes a huge difference in how the user will perceive your product and your company.

Show empathy towards your users, make sure they understand that you really care for solving their problem, even if you won’t be able to do it on the spot. Making your customers feel listened is one of the best things you can do for building the trust in your brand.

Conclusion: I find these ideas refreshing to have in mind when you look into how you can improve your product. It’s very easy to let yourself go with the flow and focus on things that you find exciting, but your users might not find them very useful.

Do you have any other examples of similar stories? Then don’t be shy, I would love to hear from you.

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