The essentials for building a great brand

the-essentials-for-building-a-great-brand-blog-thumbnail

A brand is defined as a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” – American Marketing Association (AMA).

Going by this definition, building a brand is all about creating brand recall and building a positive perception of a company, the products and services in the minds of people via attributes mentioned in the definition of “brand”. When we think of famous brands like Coca-Cola or Mc Donald’s, what comes to mind is our feelings associated with the brand. So, it is very important to make sure that customers have positive feelings associated with a brand at any stage, be it during product research or purchase or post sales.

Now, let us try to understand how to achieve brand recall. There are 3 key aspects of brand building in the Internet age – positive online presence, good customer service and differentiated products.

Thanks to the evolution of the internet and online information on the product and its reviews, customers are no longer fooled by television commercials. So, companies need to work towards having good brand reviews of products and services on the web. The more a company invests in doing this, the more successful it will be in making higher profit margins. Employee branding and a good work culture also contribute to the company reputation. So, it is safe to say that “Internal employee satisfaction is a reflection of external customer satisfaction.” Ultimately, every feedback and every comment matters if a brand wants to achieve the top spot.

Other than the regular means of brand building until purchase stage, we must work on customer satisfaction post purchase. Gone are those days when the payment for a product or service was considered to be the end of a sale. Now, companies must focus more on providing great post purchase service to the customer. Social Media channels like Twitter are good means of being in touch with happy customers and sorting out issues with disgruntled customers on a daily basis.

Compared to before, customers in the current generation consider it a matter of privilege to be associated with a good brand. For example, owning brands like Apple and Nike induce a feeling of pride and satisfaction among the customers, thanks to their cutting edge/ world class product designs and promotional strategies. So to say, brands must work on creating a unique experience of products and services for its customers by investing heavily in R&D of its products and services.

Another factor that is important in building a brand and retaining customers is introducing loyalty programs/ discounts /prizes to keep the loyal customer glued to your brand for as long as possible.

Once all these above factors have been taken care of, another thing a company must focus on is, the kind of celebrities associated with the brand as they make or break the brand. For example, Tiger Woods was associated with Accenture, as he was considered a celebrity with a huge fan following, until an unfortunate event in his life, changed that perception.  In such a situation, a brand would immediately want to break the contract with such a celebrity to save itself from brand damage.

Overall, a brand must focus on each and every aspect of a customer lifecycle in order to build a sustainable brand over a period of time.

If you have any views on building a brand, please share them on the comments below.

 

 

The Importance of Creating Learnable Systems

Why it is important to focus on learnability as an important aspect of creating any experience.

User Experience (UX)

A common definition is the combined broad disciplines of user research, personas, information architecture, content strategy, interaction design, visual design, prototyping, usability testing and ultimately front end development.

Customer Experience (CX)

The design of the complete customer journey from the point where the user connects with the brand to the level of support they expect and receive…at every level, on every device and on every channel.

UX according to Wikipedia…

User experience (UX) involves a person’s behaviors, attitudes, and emotions about using a particular product, system or service. User experience includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person’s perceptions of system aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency.

I tend to describe it as any act or effort that makes people happy.

Learnability

In my opinion, “Learnability” is the most important aspect about usability. Measuring perception is everything when it comes to learnability. It is not just about the placement of a piece of text, the size of a button, thecoolness of a control or the colors of status indicators. Its more about the piece of text itself and how your users interpret it when they read it for thevery first time.

Does the design provide closure?
Does it help users with the next logical step?
Does it prevent them from turning to someone and asking “Hey, do you remember how to…

Learnability is about the details you add to help increase the adoption and comprehension of any experience. It is about those finer details that help save time for your users when they experience something new.

People have an amazing knack of getting accustomed to badly designed interfaces. For any product or experience to be successful in the long run, there are a few basics that must absolutely be in place. These are not value adds or USPs (Unique Selling Point), but plain and simple table stakes.

Interactions have to be usable, else they are going to fail.
Products have to be aesthetic, else they will mostly fail.
Systems have to be performant, else they will definitely fail.
Systems that are hard to learn… WILL FAIL.

As designers, we strive to make the most intuitive, aesthetic and usable systems for our users and often ignore learnability. We often forget that users start with a blank canvas. I’ve come to realize that the success of any system should be measured by how quickly someone, with absolutely little or no context, gets it or how easy it is for someone to complete a task after watching it no more than once.

Example 1 — Uninstall Programs (Otherwise called Removing something from your computer that you no longer want or need.)

Removing software on Windows (prior to Win 8).

Windows 8_UX

 

Let’s look at how a user uninstalls a program from her/his computer. For starters, the word uninstall itself is daunting.

Do you really uninstall your tap, bulb or your television? You remove it. You trash it.

Though much improved in Windows 8, the process was extremely daunting in previous versions. They still have this thing called the Control Panel if uninstall wasn’t scary enough.

One had to open the control panel if you managed to locate it, find the software you wanted to uninstall and then click a button and then hope that it did a clean job. Microsoft even has a detailed page describing the process.

And here’s a video in case you want to refresh your memory.

http://youtu.be/6iWM-y17_No

Compare this with the experience in OSX. You find a program and then drag it to the trash can just like any other file. Simple and Learnable.

Microsoft_improved

To the credit of Microsoft, they’ve improved it a great deal by making the interaction a lot simpler and learnable in Windows 8.

Example 2 — Interacting with an ATM screen.

ATM_UX_Example

How many call to actions do you see? What do you think about the UI text on this screen? What do you think about the sizes of each control and their positions? How long do you think it would take a customer with little or no technical knowledge to learn how to enter a pin?

Now compare the above example with the one below.

ATM_UX

Clearly the skeuomorphism is a bit much but the interaction seems so learnable! From the messaging on the screen to the size of the buttons, it just seems that it would take very little time for someone to ‘get’ what they need to do.

In Conclusion

Everything that we add to a screen matters. Your perception of an interaction or an interface does not count. Test, Test and Test again. See how your users perceive every single element that you add for them. Your job is to make their lives a little easier. Don’t make it hard for anyone to learn something new. Remember how we learnt the alphabet using standing and sleeping lines?

Every little thing is important. The verbiage, color, size, padding, margins, line-spacing, sentences, feedback and interactions of every single element on that screen. Never ever compromise on learnability and performance. As a rule, If it is hard to learn and doesn’t work fast enough, its pretty much useless.

This writeup was partly inspired by a quote I heard from someone at Microsoft. Yes you read that right… Microsoft.

“50% of most usability related issues can be solved by simply addressing the UI text.”

By: Jatin Shah
UX Architect at Aditi Technologies
Twitter

 

 

 

The power of customer experience to shape brand perceptions

 

the-power-of-customer-experience-to-shape-brand-perceptions-blog-thumbnail

Scene #1

One fine morning, when I was going through the daily chore of checking my Facebook newsfeed, I came across a post by one of my friends about her delightful experience with a particular cab service provider. She had written how she had left her cellphone in the cab and the driver came back to return it in the evening. More than a 100 people had liked the post and a few commented about their similar experiences with this company. A couple of other folks also joked about her phone being an old featured phone model which nobody would want to keep.

Scene #2

I was travelling by bus and a lady sitting in front of me made a call to the customer service department of a leading e-commerce company in India. She got through to a representative and described the product she bought online a few days back. She explained the hardware problem she had found with the newly bought phone.

The executive, I guess, suggested she go through the user manual, installation guide etc. and offered to try and resolve the issue over the call. She got a bit irritated since she had already mentioned that it was a hardware issue, which would presumably be impossible to resolve over a call. Although it didn’t go into shouting and screaming since she was in a public bus, her agitation could be felt easily by all the fellow passengers. I could sense the lack of empathy and bad quality of solution provided by the executive.

The problem was finally resolved when the call was transferred to the manager, who agreed to pick up the product from her address and give her a full refund. She explained to the manager how she had always been shopping from this ecommerce giant and had liked the experience overall; but this particular purchase which was worth thousands of rupees had shattered her faith in the company.

What I learned from these stories

It’s quite clear what happened in the above two cases. In today’s world, the customer holds the power of making or breaking a brand in the true sense. It’s an era where the customer is the marketer! I am sure more than a hundred people who liked the post, including me, about the cab service provider company, would have more faith in that brand now. Whereas, the poor experience passed on by the online shopping giant would be shared with more friends, colleagues and relatives and some of them might hesitate to go ahead with such purchases, even though their past experiences have been good.

We, as humans, give a great deal of importance to empathy and emotions. Even if we don’t know someone personally, we somehow feel connected to their experiences. Sometime, somewhere, we have gone through it too.

However, we should not forget that an experience is always a perceived one. It totally depends on how an individual feels about the experience. An experience can be overwhelming for somebody but maybe not so intriguing for others at the same time. A lot of this perception depends on our expectations as a customer.

In conclusion, we can say that the need of this hour is to identify your customers as individuals, understand their expectations, segment them and treat them in such a way that they become promoters of your brand. Word of mouth indeed travels far and fast!

 By Sona Todi

 

 

 

Stop guessing! Decipher your customer’s intent with touch point analysis

96% of unhappy cucustomer-touch-point-analysis-mohan-litehouse-design-blog-thumbnailstomers don’t complain and 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.

For businesses to create deeper, meaningful and empathetic customer connect,  it is indispensable to experience their brands as their consumers do to determine every possible way to make the product or service experience better, more pleasant, more human, and more productive.This is possible only when every brand carefully analyzes every touch point throughout the customer journey – before, during, and after purchase.

customer-touch-point-analysis-mohan-litehouse-design-blog-main

Today’s customers are more demanding and less forgiving than ever before.

Getting the Touch-Point Analysis Right. First Time. Every Time.

Any organization that performs touch-point analysis with utmost care, can uncover powerful customer insights as well as opportunities to improve how well customer-segment needs and wants can be met.

Establishing a Cause and Effect Relationship between Each of the Customer Actions

Human experience is complex, and mostly intangible. Several companies that do touch-point mapping exceptionally well, establish a cause and effect relationship between all the customer actions to arrive at a deep and meaningful understanding of each engagement.

Piecing together the bigger picture of why and how customers are interacting at various touch-points can help in delivering a predictive and proactive experience. The questions listed below can drive meaningful insights about customer behavior at each touch point.

Context and Device

What are the devices used for engaging with the brand and how best can you leverage all the contextual data gathered by the device, such as time and location?

Engagement channel

Which is the actual site or media through which the customer first engaged? (Email/Social/Website/Paid Ad/SMS)

Touch-point sequence

How did the customer progress through the buying journey? What and where did the customer stop before and after engaging at each touch point?

Content consumed / action taken

What are the various content viewed/clicked/downloaded by the customer?

Time elapsed between each engagement

What is the time frame of each engagement, and the time elapsed between each activity and between activity and inactivity?

Finally, spot the touch-point that can trigger emotional connect.

Touch points with high volumes of customer interaction and those that can evoke strong emotions in customers turn into loyal advocates and will be ever willing to spend with the brand even if meaningful and available alternatives are presented.

Here are a few examples of the brands that have capitalized on this very fact to create a steadfast advantage over the competition.

Case In Point

PayPal’s Customer Effort Score

In the E-commerce industry, reducing customer friction is extremely important. Every extra second the website takes to load, costs you a customer. Reports suggests that even just a 1 second delay in page load time could reduce conversions by 7%. If that increases to 2 seconds, you’re looking at an abandonment rate of 40%.

PayPal was one of the early players to realize and act on optimizing this particular customer touch point. And the result? Well, a $2 billion increase in transactions. Now that’s quite a big win!

customer-touch-point-analysis-mohan-litehouse-design-blog-paypal

Starbucks

So, how is Starbucks keeping pace with competition even now? Simple, personalization at every touch point and their ability to cater to each individual customer as a segment on its own. The “My Starbucks Rewards” and the loyalty mobile apps was a great step towards customer delight.

By optimizing the mobile touch point with a killer mobile app, Starbucks saw a whopping 4 million dollar mobile payments every week. customer-touch-point-analysis-mohan-litehouse-design-blog-starbucks1         customer-touch-point-analysis-mohan-litehouse-design-blog-starbucks2  Tesco’s Social media strategy to show they care

Tesco like any other retail giant, has a myriad of touch points. Tesco has always been right by their customer’s side to assist them at every step.

The most remarkable is Tesco’s efficient use of Twitter as a customer service channel. Tesco uses Twitter really well for social customer service. Tesco is able to build a stronger relationship with customers by connecting at a personal level by adding a bit of humor to every interaction. customer-touch-point-analysis-mohan-litehouse-design-blog-tescoThese are just a few example of impactful touch point experiences.

Have you been overwhelmed recently by any such experiences? Share it in the comments below.
By Mohan Krishnaraj