For many of us, the role of CX and improving digital experiences for customers plays an important part in our working week. Yet we are all consumers too and when we log off at the end of a long week, we encounter a wide range of apps and digital platforms – some good, some bad – from a user’s perspective.
For many, poor digital experiences often stem from narrow, blinkered vision that doesn’t take into account the real needs of the consumer.
Michael Sherwood, Head of Digital Experience for Atom Bank, tells MoneyNext: “I could give you literally hundreds of really poor digital experiences, and the reason I could give you hundreds is that we invest a lot in benchmarking at Atom and we use a tool called 11:FS Pulse which allows us to view digital journeys – be them web journeys or app journeys – across the globe. They’re not just financial services-based journeys, they’re journeys across multiple sectors. We look at Pulse on a daily basis to take inspiration from both the good and the bad experiences that are included on that platform.
“What have I learnt from the bad experiences that we see? There are a number of things. The first and most important thing is that the bad experiences I’ve come across are driven from the inside-out. What I mean by that is you have a tech capability and a group of people that design digital journeys and push them out to customers because they think they are suitable, and they think that customers will use them, but they’ve not actually spent any time with customers directly to understand the things that really matter to them.
“As a result, you encounter a number of different things. The first thing is that they will be complicated, they will be difficult to follow, they will use language which is used within the organisation rather than language that’s used by real people. Inherently it takes you longer to get the job that you need doing done.
“In my opinion, that’s what truly great digital services should do – they should identify a need from a customer’s perspective, that journey should then be built from the ground up with that job that needs to be done from the customer’s perspective in mind, it should then be discussed internally to see whether we have the capability technically to deliver this quickly and securely and easily. If the answer to all those 3 questions is yes, you then start building the journey back from the customer. Along the way, through MVP and into production, you work with customers directly to refine that initial idea. If you do so, customers will love it.”
Sometimes our CX bug bears are very specific points – a convoluted or confusing journey, misleading messaging or a functionality that doesn’t work as we expect it to or just doesn’t work at all.
Peter Ballard, co-founder of experience design company Foolproof, says: “One piece of poor UX that crops up too often is the ‘next best fit’ search return. It is most irritating, and potentially disastrous, especially in travel and hotel booking.
“I’ve experienced this problem when booking flights and hotels in parts of cities or towns that were not the area that I searched for. I’ve also experienced it booking trains where multiple mainline stations exist in the same town. These next best match listings may be appropriate in retail, but they just don’t exist in travel and tourism, where most hotel rooms look alike, and flight times and airlines are not visually distinctive.
“The reason this issue is so irritating is that it is a lazy design and the remedy is so simple. Just using a different page template to show actual matched results, and another for next best match results, would make it much easier for the customer to understand these are a different option to consider. A tiny bit of design thinking can save a lot of grief, costly ticket changes, cancelled bookings and the odd embarrassing arrival at entirely the wrong airport.”
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As customer service becomes increasingly automated, a process that was accelerated during the pandemic, brands are embracing new technologies like chatbots and increasing the focus on their FAQs. Pre-emptive remedies like these can be helpful if they solve a customer’s problem, but when a user can’t find an answer to their problem it’s important to have ready access to a human customer service agent – otherwise consumers will get frustrated and discouraged.
Recent research shows that consumers are drawn to chatbots because of their speed and convenience but 60% would usually prefer to wait in line for a human.
“Bad user experience is everywhere,” says Katharine Wooller of digital asset platform Dacxi. “Often, frankly, it’s from some companies that should know better.
“My personal bête noire is Gmail – despite being one of the biggest companies in the world, in my opinion the UI is dreadful! I don’t doubt the functionality ‘under the bonnet’ is good but the user interface looks like an ICT project from the late 90s. It simultaneously gives me a migraine and a deep yearning for colour. All CX, in my opinion, needs to be intuitive and easy on the eye.
“It is worth remembering in a crowded marketplace, the services, websites and companies that scale quickly and ultimately dominate are rarely the first mover. Rather they are the ones that are easiest to navigate – thus Amazon was not the first e-commerce business, Facebook was not the first social media business and Google was not the first search engine.”