UX Is Not Just For Software

ux-in-real-life

If you’re part of the tech world, you have heard of and know what user experience (UX) is. More importantly, you know how important it is to the success of your product. Poor user experience can lead to user frustration, increase in support requests, lack of engagement and higher churn rates. All in all, it can result in doom for your product. This is why product managers, developers and designers work hard to optimize the user experience. For onboarding, this means getting the user to the “aha moment” as quickly as possible, and for retention, it means making it easy to to achieve the key actions and decreasing the feature clutter. The goal is always user happiness because user happiness means increase in usage, increase in users and increase in the moolah, baby.

Unfortunately, it seems as if many non-software companies lose sight of user (customer) experience. It may not be as easy to track or capture data on overall user experience but it is just as important for any company trying to keep customers engaged and happy.

My Shitty Customer Experience

Kaiser Permanente

Flu season means it’s time to get a shot. For me, that meant finding a Kaiser location I could go to in order to get my free flu shot. I had an open Saturday morning so it was the perfect time for me to get the shot out of the way since my weekdays can get fairly busy. I took to the web to figure out which local Kaiser location was open on a Saturday and performed flu shots. It seemed as if only 1 location offered Saturday flu shots but the website displayed September 26th as the only date. September 26th was long gone so I figured I may be shit out of luck. Nonetheless, I decided that the Kaiser website was a little too confusing so it was better to just give them a call. A few transferred calls and 20+ minutes later, I found out that the location actually did offer flu shots on multiple Saturdays. I was in luck but I had been close to giving up on my flu shot adventure because I felt like my morning was just wasting away.

That being said, my shot was quick and easy, plus the receptionist and nurse were great…so that did help make up for my frustrating experience from earlier.

Macy’s

When attending weddings and formal events, I try my best to match with my fiance…cute, I know. So in order to continue the trend, I picked up a couple of tie options from Macy’s to see which would work best with her specific outfit. After finalizing the choice, I decided to return the remaining ties since it wasn’t really a color I’d wear on a regular basis (pink). I excitingly walked into the store because I knew I was about to get some money back for my return…always a good feeling. I went up to the first customer service desk that I saw and confidently stated that I was there to make a return. Unfortunately, I was told that I would have to go upstairs to the Men’s section since I was returning ties. It wasn’t a huge deal but it did mean that I had to go find the escalator and make my way through the Men’s section to find a second customer service desk. I made the return and all was dandy. Like I said, not a big deal BUT it was somewhat of an odd situation and annoying experience. It has been a few months now and I still wonder why I had to go all the way back to the Men’s section to return my ties, especially if and when I go back to the store. I get that Macy’s may be trying to make it difficult to return items, but that seems fairly unlikely because if somebody made the trip to the store, they are not leaving until they have returned their items. Either way, it was a small annoyance but yet another example of poor user experience in a real world situation.

Apple

The tech giant that everybody loves. The company that prides itself on quality and design. Yet a company that I seem to have had multiple frustrations with. My Macbook Pro OS has randomly crashed in the past, where I lost all my data, and my battery currently needs to be replaced after just a few years. My fiance also had to replace her battery after a few years and then her Macbook Pro just stopped working for no apparent reason. Although all of those can be frustrating, that is not the user experience issues I am focusing on…technology can be a tough thing to control. The experience issues developed when we tried going to visit Apple for support. When my fiance’s laptop crashed, it was in the middle of a busy period, where she had a ton of important work to do on her computer. We rushed over to the nearest Apple store on a random Sunday afternoon. To our frustration, the store was completely booked for the whole evening and did not have an opening for the next 4 days. Our best option was to either come back the next morning at 10AM and potentially be helped or go to a 2nd location, which should have an opening according to the Apple rep. We decided to drive 20 minutes to the next store since it was key for us to figure out what was going on with the laptop. Unfortunately, we were once again shit out of luck. The 2nd location was also too busy to take any walk ins and again, didn’t have any open appointments for another few days. We had no choice but to take the Macbook in the following Thursday…and you can probably guess how frustrating that was.

It may be something that Apple had no real control over but you can understand how upsetting it is when your laptop fails you, especially when you paid top dollar for this quality brand. It’s also frustrating to see how busy the Apple store is on a daily basis. People are having so many issues with their Apple products that we had to literally wait days just to have our Macbook looked at. It has even made me contemplate whether I should go back to a Windows product for my next computer…which I may need fairly soon due to the battery issues.

Not All is Bad

I am not here to pick on any specific brands, because even the examples I mentioned are minor and sometimes uncontrollable, but I am trying to point out how user/customer experience should not just be a software topic. Time Warner Cable has a new campaign that focuses directly on customer experience. Their new reduced wait time campaign focuses on customers not having to wait on the phone for long periods of time, and we all know how frustrating that can be. Time Warner was smart to recognize how that experience was leaving a bad taste in the mouths of their customers and are making the effort to improve that. They are optimizing the user experience to inch closer to achieving customer happiness.

In Conclusion,

Those in tech understand how important a role user experience plays in their product’s success. This is great but it shouldn’t stop there. User (customer) experience should be a key focus for all brands, whether in tech or not. Many times, it can be the smallest changes that have the biggest impact on a customer. Small changes mean happier customers and happier customers mean more revenue.

Photo credit: Sydney Apple Store Genius Bar

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