MOBILE APPS NEED A ‘CAR MODE’?

This writeup is about the many popular mobile apps out there who would be so much more better, if only they were designed for context of use.

Car 1

The car is becoming a strong player in the digital ecosystem. There is a reason why Apple, Google and Microsoft are making big bets with things like CarPlay,Android Auto and Windows in the car.

Car 2

But those experiences, at least initially will be reserved for premium models and will take some time before they become mainstream.

Car 3

Designers and Engineers are striving hard to keep customers connected in this fourth dimension that is poised for a huge disruption like 2007, when the iPhone was born.

But this post is not about these new technologies. It is about the regular person who drives a regular car and has a regular smartphone.

One such person is me and I just happen to be an experience designer. I have a car. I also have a smartphone and I live a very connected digital life. There is no reason that some of these useful and popular apps can’t be enhanced with a “car mode.

First thought. Why not use voice right?

Wrong. A recent study by AAA shows the imperfections in the usual suspects like Siri, Google Voice, Cortana, etc.

So back to car mode. There are four key objectives when designing any experience that is consumed while driving.

Make it safe.

Show only relevant information.

Make it accessible and intuitive.

Make it usable in all conditions. DayTwilightNight, etc.

Some obvious scenarios

  1. You have to take a meeting on your phone. Number, Guest Code, Leader Code, Moderator Pin, Fuck you Lync… Blah Blah… you know drill and the frustrations… Solution: Tempo
  2. You need to find gas, coffee (I live in Seattle), or your favorite food chain in a new city maybe? Solution: Yelp
  3. Discover music. Skip, Switch, Like, Dislike… Solution: Pandora
  4. You are lost. Left Turn? Right Turn? Ave, Cross Street? Address? Landmark? Parking? Solution: Google Maps

Lets explore some solutions where a car mode will go a long way in making these interactions safe and useful.

  1. Tempo

Tempo, the smart calendar is a fantastic application. Must admit that I can’t live without it. I use it for the single reason that I never ever have to remember a meeting passcode ever again.

I typically attend meetings through my phone docked in the car when I’m driving to work in the morning. Legally allowed.

Now here is how it looks as a full size screenshot to say someone who designed it on Photoshop in a comfortable room with mood lighting and a stable chair.

Car 4Tempo as it might appear on a designer’s 27in display. Source.

Here is how it looks like in my hand at a typical viewing distance. Welcome to the real world Neo. What happened to contrast, viewing distance, environment, accessibility? In my car… a different story. Extremely dangerous and virtually impossible to use.

Car 5As it looks in my hand.

Now some common sense. If I turn on car mode at 8:20am, then the app knows a few things like…

  1. My next meeting is at 8:30am.
  2. Know which country I am in and knows which number to dial.
  3. I usually keep car mode on for about an hour.

So why the heck do I need to see every cool feature that the app has to offer when all I care about is my next meeting. Something that the app is already aware of!

Meet Tempo with Car Mode

Car 6Proposed design for TEMPO in car mode.

Car 7In my hand at a normal viewing distance.

Car 8In my car!

  1. Pandora with Car Mode

Advantages

  1. Pandora gets full real estate to show better and safer ads.
  2. Users experience beautiful full screen cover art and a very safe way to interact for just the bare minimum interaction if any.

Car 9Pandora Rest Mode. Tapping anywhere on the screen invokes the interact view for the user.

Car 10Pandora Car Mode. Only the controls that I care about with clear and safe touch targets.

Car 11Pandora Car Mode. Only the controls that I care about with clear and safe touch targets.

  1. Yelp

Advantages

  1. Users can set preferences on the places they usually visit. No search, no voice, no messing with controls or search results.
  2. Just 4 personalized and relevant results and safe touch targets.

Car 12Proposed design for Yelp in Car Mode.

Car 13Yelp in my car!

Conclusion

Disclaimer. I am not advocating people using anything when they drive. As we all know… people love breaking rules and I’m only addressing some approaches that can make these habits a little safe.

By Jatin Shah

UX Architect

 

What this store did to their customer’s enquiry was absolute genius! A lesson in customer experience for everyone!

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Let me tell you the story about Lily.

One day, Lily Robinson, three and a half year old, was walking around the aisles of Sainsbury’s super market with her mother. When her mother picked up some tiger bread, a popular brand of bread, Lily had a question which comes naturally owing to the curiosity of a kid.

She asked her mom, “Why is this called tiger bread? This looks like a giraffe bread to me.”
Lily was referring to the patterns baked on the bread, which in fact resembled the pattern on a giraffe than that of a tiger. Her mom said, “Maybe you should ask them.” And she did. She wrote a letter, presumably with the help of her mom, to the 145 year old, £798M super market chain of 1200 stores.

“Why is tiger bread called tiger bread? It should be called giraffe bread. Love from Lily Robinson age 3 and 1/2″.

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Now, this letter probably wouldn’t raise more than a couple of chuckles before it went into some file of the corporation.

But Chris King, from Sainsbury’s customer service thought it was a brilliant idea. He wrote back to her.

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“I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea – it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it?” He went on to explain, “It is called tiger bread because the first baker who made it a looong time ago thought it looked stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.”

He included a gift card and signed off the letter, “Chris King (age 27 & 1/3)”

Her mom, put the letters on her blog and in couple of weeks, it struck a chord with many and went viral. There was a facebook page set up, Chris King was celebrated as a legend and the internet stood by the logic of this three year old. In a couple of months, owing to the ‘overwhelming response from its customers’, the 145 year old corporation, changed the name of tiger bread to giraffe bread.

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This story speaks volumes of how Sainsbury’s treats its customers and also exemplifies how each customer deserves to be treated. Unfortunately, not in our everyday lives we come across such incidents where the customer is valued and considered as the pivot point in a business.

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Forget listening to the customers, can you even find where the bread section is in a supermarket without walking around the place three times and asking someone in vain?
We hear or even have gone through nightmarish experiences with these business establishments.

In this age of the customer, where they demand customized, individual care, it is absolutely impossible for any business to sustain unless they start listening to its customers.

Always remember, the customer is king!

By Harikrishnan Menon

The “Designer” Vocabulary

A look at the language of communicating a design today in a connected world.

Designer Expectations

Recently I found a very interesting post titled “Designers Who Don’t Talk Like Designers Get Hired”. The particular paragraph in question was:

“Many designers talk to businesses from a designer’s perspective. This results in lost contracts, poor communication, and feeling as though design is unappreciated by the client. It turns out that by learning to take a business perspective, designers can win more contracts, earn more from their work, and be more valued.”

There were some interesting debates and opinions within our design team about the tone and content of that post.

Personally, I thought the author was making a valid point albeit what appears to be a generalizing statement about the design community at large.

This brought us to the point of this topic which is, how do we define a designer today? What really are mindsets and skill sets of people with specific roles like user researcher, interaction designervisual designer,user experience designercustomer experience designercontent designer, front end designer, etc.

What language should any of these above designers speak? Should they be aware of the skillsets of each other? Is it about being a jack of all trades or a master of all?

To me, everything boils down to the simple fact that a designer today is mostly supporting three goals.

Fact: Like it or not, in most cases, the business is in it to make money by:

By selling a product or products… to make money. Example: Amazon
Providing a service… to make money. Example: Uber
Making systems efficient so that people are productive and hence enable the business… to make more money. Example: UXPin, Basecamp

Cool companies

Three examples of cool companies creating great experiences to make more money. AmazonUber and Basecamp.

Understanding how these goals trickle down to the smallest detail is I think, the big part in anything we design… including how we communicate the design or the approach.

Without undermining the importance of aesthetics in any way, I think using the right vocabulary to communicate a design to a business is extremely important. It is the “why’s” and “as a result of which…” in the conversation.

The dialogue really is about things like why the color, why the layout, why the SVG or why that size?

Should a designer only be communicating in the language of aesthetics? What is the real design problem?

  1. Am I, as a designer making choices that make 5 secs of someones time productive?
  2. Am I, as a designer making choices about how those choices affect the performance of the experience? Is it a designer’s problem?
  3. Am I, as a designer worrying about the perception of everything on the screen as perceived by the user?
  4. Am I, as a designer worrying about where and how the solution is going to be consumed?
  5. Am I, as a designer worrying about the design being scalable and future proof?

Do I as a designer understand the business? Do I need to understand the business?

In the end, I think as designers we need to clearly justify the reasoning behind our designs in a language of ‘gains’. What do you as a business gain by me as a designer communicating a design choice. It is about me as a designer understanding all aspects of a user centered design process and using that insight to support a design decision or approach.

The fact that things have to be aesthetically neat and current are prerequisites to me. There is tremendous effort in visual research and design but they are not value adds. You have to do it. To communicate a design solution just on the basis of aesthetics is not the right way in my opinion.

To support the original article that led to this post, It’s almost like me applying for a chef position in a restaurant with the leading line in my resume that says I cook really well.

Food for thought?

By Jatin Shah
UX Architect at Aditi Technologies
Twitter

4 Misconceptions About UX Design and One Hard-to-Ignore TRUTH

In the increasingly design-savvy state of the world, it’s never been more important to stand out and develop a unique brand identity through UX design. While most organizations recognize the ability of UX design to be the key driver for customer conversion, they often don’t recognize how to use UX design strategically to deliver new values driven by core business metrics.

Having overseen UX design-led business transformation at several organizations, here’s my take on the common misconceptions about UX design that can derail you from maximizing its impact on business outcomes.

Misconception #1: UX Design = Design Thinking

In the design world, UX design and design thinking are often considered synonyms. But in reality, design thinking is just an integrative thinking process that involves approaching problems in the right way. When you get the design thinking right, it doesn’t directly translate to getting the design right. UX Design is a much broader process that begins with understanding the business model, performing user research, and designing the service to fit into the users’ lives in a meaningful way.

Design thinking is all about examining and exploiting opposing ideas and constraints to understand the needs of the audience. For instance, a leading bank took a human-centered approach in designing their loyalty program. They even went an extra mile to exempt a loyal customer from being charged for a bounced check. In this sense, solving a complex customer loyalty problem with empathy is design thinking.

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SOURCE: WHITE PAPER – CHANGING THE STORIES BANK CUSTOMERS TELL THEMSELVES BY WWW.MCORPCONSULTING.COM

While better use of design thinking methods is useful for any company to solve its largest problems, design thinking will not, in and of itself, drive better design.

Misconception #2: Enabling Better UX is the Design Team’s Job

By creating a design-centric culture and by hiring design-centric marketers, engineers, product managers, etc., the design team can rely on the larger team, which serves as an extended UX arm. This holistic design-centric team is aligned with UX needs and can easily get started with the build process on their own, rather than waiting for the core design team to initiate the mock-up first. And that’s what makes everything about the product so much better than any individual designer or design team can provide.

With the increased popularity of agile methodology, it has left most organizations to wonder if Agile + UX work at all. When companies adopt an agile development environment, UX teams often feel like they just lost their seat at the table. It’s never easy to change, but when you design your agile process to explicitly include UX as a key component and assign a champion to it, you can have the impact on design you always wanted.

“Everybody at Apple is thinking about UX and design, not just the designers.” – Ex-UX Designer at Apple.

Misconception #3: All Fancy New Tech Compliments Design

Anything that requires users to learn new and complex tasks to perform a desired action has little or no chance of adoption. Period.

Tempted by the new technology, numerous app makers have attempted to blend fancy tech with design, making actions extremely difficult to master. The result? A  drop in app and product popularity. Iconic examples of design failures in an attempt to get too cool with technology are the Gesture control TV remote controls, the seldom used Samsung Eye-ball tracking feature, and the fascinating Google Glass. While the idea of the new tech was attractive, the use of these were too complex for the audience.

Misconception #4: Optimized Design Leads the User to the Outcome You Envision

It’s often considered best to overly question user behavior and direct them to the outcome you desire, but redirecting the user who is repeatedly going off the rails with an intention is useless. For example, there is nothing more annoying than mobile websites with “Download Our App” messages every other second before you’ve even had a chance to read what the app can do for you. If users deviate from your intended path, it is absolutely fine to bring them back on track, but if they do it repeatedly, it’s probably intentional. And you should stop badgering them, and learn from their preference.

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The Truth: UX Design Has an Incredible Impact on the Company’s Top and Bottom-Line

Any organization that moves beyond an ad-hoc user-centric mindset to a sustained and centralized UX practice will find that a successful UX design has an incredible impact on their top-line and bottom-line. By institutionalizing UX, every team learns to communicate problems, rather than devising abrupt solutions; every engineer will explore and anticipate additional use cases and will communicate the best technical solution; every visual designer will learn to think beyond the visuals and will consider how it works and behaves.

A disappointed customer will not patronize with your business again if there is a mismatch between what the customer initially sees from the design team and the final output from the development team.  While the QA team acts as a middleman to ensure the output is as promised, it can never be a reality when the QA team has no design DNA. It is only with a design-centric culture that any organization can bridge the customer expectation vs experience divide.

Design has an inherent value in developing empathy and creating experiences that truly matter to customers, thereby increasing their lifetime value and translating to business results. When design is effectively integrated with business vision, strategy, engineering, etc., it serves as an influential force that helps businesses stay closer to customers, and in return, you can monetize customers for the great experience delivered.

What other common misconceptions about UX design have you encountered? Share them in the comments below the slideshare!

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Go to Slideshare

By Mohan Krishnaraj

The Most Important Skill to Become a Successful User Experience Designer

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Many people, from different backgrounds, non-designers, non-technical folks, ask me sometimes – Can I become a user experience professional?

This made me think, what is the most important skill one would need to become a successful user experience professional?  Is it a Master’s degree in UX or IX from a reputed institute? Or deep knowledge about the principles of UX?  Excellent design skills? Communication? Technical expertise? All of the above?

I think none of them matter beyond a point. Of course, they would help, but none of them, in my opinion, qualifies to be the most important skill you would need to become a great UX designer.

The number one skill to be a successful user experience designer is what I call empathetic UX mindset.

Let me explain.

For example, consider the compose screen of any email application, say Gmail.

If you ask a develthe-most-important-skill-to-become-a-successful-user-experience-designer-screenshotoper to tell you about this screen, he might probably say something like, “You know, it’s a layover, with two text boxes and a large edit box. In the bottom bar there are a couple of icons and a “send” button. When the user presses ‘send,’ the data is validated and submitted to the server.”

If you ask the same question to a designer, he would say “I love the minimal design in this, see how neatly they have arranged the textboxes and the message field. And they have used the blue color for the send button, which is a universally accepted color without any negative implications! Brilliant, no?”

If you ask someone from the business side, they would say something like “We need to send the data through the algorithm to pick up relevant keywords, so that we can show matching ads and increase revenue.”

There is no problem with any one the above responses, they all are genuine and true.

But, if you see the same interface from a user’s perspective, say a 50 year old dad, he would say, “My daughter has gone abroad for an assignment, it has been three days we spoke to her over the phone, but you know it is very costly from here. And maybe she is busy and we don’t want to call and trouble her every time. She, before leaving, taught me how to use this email thing and I am trying to send an email to her from me and her mother.” Her mom would add, “Can we send her those photos of Pintu too?”

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You go beyond text boxes, colors and technical words. All you see and hear are emotions. Nervousness of using the app for the first time. Eagerness to communicate with their dear one. Love and affection.

The most important skill you require, my friends, to become a successful user experience designer, is the ability to understand that elderly couple. And thousands of others like them. Everything else will fall in line, when you make it your responsibility to make sure they are able to use the application without any difficulties.

If you walk a mile in their shoes, see the product through their eyes, empathize with the user – that makes the winning difference more than any other skill you might have.

When you step outside your technical boundaries, forget the rigid business needs and become your user, only then do you become a successful user experience designer.

And your user will thank you for that.

By Harikrishnan Menon

How to Read Customer Support Reports for Usability

In any usareading-customer-support-reports-for-usability-studies-blog-thumbnailbility study conducted in an organization, the focus is on conducting user tests to gauge the workability of the product. But customer support reports give an entirely different picture.

We have all called customer support at some point seeking their assistance for product or services that we are using. The call could be related to a bank account, purchase order, missing luggage, changing mobile plans, etc. The common thread in all these is the understanding of customers’ problems, solving them & keeping a record of it. Customer support is one division within an organization that interacts most frequently with its customers. And for a usability consultant, that’s a knowledge bank out there to understand its users. The key advantage of looking into customer support data is that usability enhancements can be done at any part of product life-cycle & don’t cost anything extra.

Usability Study Input Area
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Not all parts of customer support data will be useful for a usability study. It needs careful filtering of data to drill down to issues reported by customers on usage of product. It could be related to incomplete transactions, error scenarios, unsuccessful operations or difficulty in understanding product in itself. These reports give a clear picture as to where the application is failing with users. Sometimes, customer support executives walk customers through the whole process and help them finish it step by step. This is when we know the product’s not working with users & needs immediate attention. Most companies are opting to record conversations between customer support staff & customers for quality monitoring purposes. This enables us to listen to actual conversations & underline customer needs. Possible usability solutions could include fixing navigational flow, making cosmetic design changes, adding usable features etc.

Usability experts will then jot down these issues and give them priority & severity ratings. It’s also a good practice to check if the issue has been reported in any other study such as user testing, surveys etc.

Usability Issues Categorization
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Customer Support Data Sources

An organization will have one or more support systems in place to assist customer on their products or services. And these are the places to look for usability roadblocks.

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Customer Support Data Consumption

The data from customer support not only benefits usability studies, but has been regularly consumed by various departments of an organization. Examples would include identifying incorrect product details (content management division),fixing  system errors (development teams) and recording system bugs (quality assurance team).

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Case Study

In May last year, while working in the Las Vegas office of our customer, I happened to meet employees of a popular e-commerce site whose office was just a few yards away. During the conversation, I got to learn about their customer first culture. They take customers so seriously that all new joiners work for Customer Support for a few weeks before being added to their respective departments. That’s part of their induction program. Hearing this gave me goose bumps!

Bottom Line

Good usability practices will help cut down costs on customer support and gain customer confidence.

By Balachandra Shetty

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

 

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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.

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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!

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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

Customer Journey Mapping in the Internet Age

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Customer Journey mapping is an integral part of customer experience design. Customer journey maps help to understand the 360 degree view of customer experience lifecycle. While designing the customer experience for any business, it is very important to start with a holistic customer journey map.

 

 

How it began

Earlier, life was simple and easy. There were only brick and mortar stores to shop from. Customers would visit shops and supermarkets and come out with bags full of products. But in late 90’s, the Internet changed the entire ballgame. Everything became connected. Customers now have a “border free” pass to shop. Options increased and so did competition among brands. Life became complicated for brands and simpler for customers.

Every shopping experience has a journey with arbitrary starting and ending-points. Brands try to articulate this journey by drawing an end-to-end customer journey map. An effective customer journey map represents the journey of the customer from the initial desire/need of a product/service to its fulfillment.

With the huge penetration of mobile and social channels in our lives, the previous notion of effectiveCustomer journey map (CjM) is fading. Customer journey is not simple anymore. The traditional funnel has transformed into a never ending loop. Customers are always active on one or the other channel and different customer segments may take different paths to complete the same objective.

Take this for instance, traditionally a person would call customer-support of the respective service provider and log a complaint regarding pathetic speed of his 3G connection. A modern, net-savvy customer may just log a complaint onto the service provider’s website. But, for the same issue, a millennial may just post a negative comment (“3G service sucks”) on the service provider’s FB page and expect the company’s representative to respond and resolve. The goal remained same, but the paths taken by the customers were different, and so would their experiences.

 

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So what should be done?

Customer Journey Mapping is not new. Early adapters and evolved brands have used it for long to deliver rich experience across all the touch-points and throughout the channels. Amazon and Nike are best examples of retail giants who have used “Customer Journey mapping” as their tool-kit to deliver seamless in-storeonline and out-of-store experience.

In the age of customer, it’s necessary to have seamless Omni channel experience across all  possible paths of the customer journey. Social media and mobile have added new channels in the customer journey but it’s of prime importance that we do not create new customer journey with inclusion of new channels. Customers relate with the products and brands instead of the silos, they want the flexibility to seamlessly interact with both traditional and modern channels.

Companies are required to understand that each touch-point is an opportunity to deliver better customer experience.  Brands should know different customer segments and all possible paths in a consumer’s journey. A holistic CjM is required for seamless customer experience throughout the journey and across the channels regardless of the paths. For mapping a holistic customer journey brands need to consider:

  • Omni-channel experience (in-store, online and Out-of-store)
  • All possible touch-points
  • Interaction between customer and touch-points
  • Customer emotions at different channels and touch points
  • Connected channels

The benefits of early CX adopters are slowly fading as customers already have a lot of CX oriented companies to choose from.  The present age requires that organizations refrain from self-centered policies and adopt a customer-centric view instead.  It is the era of holistic customer journey maps and delivering memorable experiences.

By: Shantanu Singh