People, gather around and let me tell you why Tom Thumb delivery customer experience, although basic and non-flashy, completely kicks butt.

I’ll confess I have an ulterior motive. I’ve been telling everybody I know about how f — — g awesome Tom Thumb grocery delivery is, because I don’t want it to go away.

Why? Because I am the ultimate lazy delivery customer. I noticed the other day on my Amazon profile that I have been a customer since 1998. (Whaaaat!? Say, do I get a 20-year anniversary present next year? 20 years is platinum, Jeff. Just sayin.’)

I have…

So I saw an ad on Facebook for this new Kickstarter. It’s called Car Wink. The concept’s pretty cool. It’s basically a tiny LED screen to hang on the back of your car. The idea is to facilitate communication with other motorists. It’s got various emojis you can display, along with words. The device is controlled with your voice, so you can use it while driving.

The use case is pretty clever. You’re on the road and construction up ahead is blocking your lane. A nice driver behind you gives you a space and lets you merge. You want to…

Disclaimer: This opinion is personal and in no way represents my employer. :)

So I haven’t written much lately because, well, busy. However. I have been trying to keep tabs on the Amazon vs. Google voice-based personal assistant contest. (Alexa in this corner, OK Google in that corner, GO!) You can read all about my efforts to order a pizza via voice assistant in my most recent Big Design Conference presentation on my Slideshare … let’s just say it was entertaining.

I don’t have a horse in this race (not working for either Amazon or Google), but since I do…

Let’s say you’re already doing all of those great things we discussed in parts 1 and 2. You’ve considered the context of the caller and the mindset. You’ve implemented ways to keep your caller’s experience seamless- you’ve got automated payments and other behind-the-scenes processes in place to keep things humming along and proactive notifications are already handing common patterns in your customer interactions. But, there comes the day when your customer is going to have a question or issue, and they’re going to check out your website and/or call you. Possibly both.

Reality check: your customer is not 100% focused…

In part 1 we talked about understanding customer mindset in a self-service customer care setting and how considering mindset can lead to specific features and offerings which will enhance customer experience (and your revenue).

But going beyond features and offerings, how else might understanding your customer’s mindset change your user experience?

Here’s one sweeping generalization you may not have thought of: (entertainment businesses aside,) your customer would probably prefer not to interact with you.


Nobody wakes up in the morning and says,

Hey, I’m really looking forward to paying the water bill, doing a little troubleshooting on my internet…

(Apologies for the Buzzfeed-like title.)

Let’s jump right in and give away the secret, because there really is no secret. The one great thing you must do for your VUI to make it relevant, fabulous, interesting, and usable is this:

Understand your customer.

It’s incredibly simple to make that statement, but (of course) it’s much harder to implement. If it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it. What does understanding your user mean and how might it play out?

A lot of times, user-centered design focuses around demographics:

Our typical user is male, lives in the midwest, has…

In everyday usage, a persona is a character played by an actor. When we bring this term into the UX world, the most common meaning is a fictional character who represents a customer. This fictional person is based on demographic and psychological characteristics which drive customers in the real world. For example, consider the following two personas:

“Molly” is a 72 year old woman who is a frequent visitor of “Happy Crafter” Store. Her primary hobby is scrapbooking, but she is also interested in floral arrangement, organizing parties, and home décor. She visits “Happy Crafter” at least once a month…

Voice User Interface Design Topic: Prompts vs. Text to Speech

Text-to-speech is everywhere these days, for example, the iPhone’s Siri, or Amazon’s Echo. Yet, many voice-response (IVR) systems still rely on a human voice talent to actually sit down in a studio and read your prompts into a microphone. Why haven’t more enterprises dumped the human and gone full-on Text-to-Speech in their call center implementations?

For a couple of reasons.

First, fidelity. Edward Tufte once said that the IVR phone interface is the lowest-possible resolution interface there is. (I don’t have a citation on this, because I heard him say it in person, but he did say it.) And he’s…

Crispin Reedy

Veni, Vidi, VUI. (Voice User Interface Design, y'all.) Also: Voice Usability, CX, Service Design. Homepage at

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