I bought something online… but what happened to my address?
If I ever buy something from you, please don’t do what this company did to me.
My eyes aren’t what they used to be
When you’re over 40, your eyes start going. They change more often than is comfortable and you need glasses to see things… and to work in front of screens. In my case, I’m at the progressive lenses stage. And unfortunately, I need new lenses with an ever so slightly different prescription more-or-less every year. That alone wouldn’t be an issue and probably isn’t different to what many people face. But the thing is, a new pair of glasses with scratch resistant progressive lenses costs around €1000 (roughly £865 or $1080). Every year! Since I’m not made of money, and since I consider it somewhat immoral to spend that amount of money every year on glasses, I buy many of my glasses online. And have done for a few years now. I recently ordered some new glasses at the usual place where I buy them.
Please send these glasses to me
Armed with my new prescription, I chose my preferred glasses, typed in my prescription, triple checked that I had written my prescription correctly, and moved on to the checkout. There I confirmed that my address had not changed.
I payed with my PayPal account.
For me the process was over.
Confirmation from the shop
Within seconds of buying, the shop sent me a confirmation eMail thanking me for my purchase. That eMail listed what I was buying, how much it cost and my complete address for shipping purposes. Almost simultaneously, PayPal confirmed that I had paid the shop. All of this is perfectly normal in the online world.
This confirmed the end of the immediate buying process and I moved on to other more interesting things.
The shop is sending my glasses to me, or at least I think so
Five days later, my glasses were ready. I received an eMail telling me this. And therein lies the problem. After five days of living and doing other interesting things, my head was full of other stuff. This eMail mentions my address, yet essential postal information was missing. The name of my street & house nr. do not appear, yet all other bits of my address do appear.
In a matter of seconds, this eMail had me jumping. But for all the wrong reasons. This missing information is, of course, unsettling… and causes an instant WTF?! moment (jargon: negative UX). So I stopped what I was doing and logged into their website where I checked my address. It was indeed correct.
The only possible explanation for that type of half-hearted eMail is a complete and utter lack of care. The devil, they say, is in the details.
Hey shop, you can easily make this better
I did what any responsible UX person would do, I contacted the shop and told them about it. I wrote that it wasn’t helpful to write some of the address and there’s an easy fix. They should write either the entire address or none of the address. What they shouldn’t do, is leave out bits of the address.
Got you covered, says the shop
To their credit, the shop answered within 15 minutes. For a globally active shop, that is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, they wrote that I don’t need to worry because they intent to use the address that I supplied.
Their conclusion was that my glasses would arrive soon. Their reasoning was that they had sent my glasses to the “correct” shipping address (they probably meant the “complete” shipping address). And their use of the word “Besides” tells me that they lack the necessary empathy to understand the emotional price that I, the customer, paid. They seem impervious to the fact that insufficient information could cause a shock in a customer.
Where did it go wrong?
Did you, as a reader, feel the slight yet irritating confusion. All the more irritating because it’s completely unnecessary. The shop goes to the trouble of adding my address to the “we’re shipping” eMail. A simple & helpful confirmation. Yet it decided to leave out some bits of the address. It chose to leave out all entries which were not in required fields.
That’s a very simple programming decision but it demonstrates absolutely zero empathy for customers. It is, of course, a half-hearted performance. My stance is always the same… I am the paying customer and it’s essential that information reaches me without unsettling me.
The shop should have included everything I wrote in the EDIT ADDRESS form except my telephone number.
Why should these changes be made?
As many of us know, design solves a problem. It should makes things simple and easy to use for everyone. That means giving enough information where required. It does not mean leaving out some information.
Where information is supplied, the usual human assumption is that the information is complete. And if it isn’t complete, there’s a problem. Unless it’s obvious that it’s supposed to be incomplete and more details can be reached with an additional click.