Jun 12, 2006

Lack of Holistic Experience Design can impact Businesses.

While Shopping in a very popular supermarket in India, I realized how a bad design decision could cost the business its customers. Customer Experience encompasses the entire cohesive experience of the user/customer. From the interaction with the employees, the software, hardware, and the environment.


You (Customers) browse through items; collect items you want to buy; and finally line up to pay at the cashier’s counter. This counter is the major conduit for almost all customer interactions. So in my mind, this the most crucial action point the supermarket has with its customers.

Now one would expect that this conduit to facilitate the User (Cashier, employee) experience so that the customer need not wait unnecessarily, and would always be served with a smile. The cashier was standing and operating a system from a bygone era with an application from the same age. I am not discussing the software here. That would be another day another story.

Am talking about the completer experience. The cashier(User) is standing and operating a computer. Never a simple task. Especially when the user has to continuously operate the system for a long duration. Even the table height is fixed, so a tall person would face even more strain. The amount of strain that the user has on his/her back day in and day is going to affect his/her productivity. After entering the item details in the computer, the cashier has to bend again in a different direction to remove carry bags to give the customer. Another ergonomic disaster.

Productivity loss leads directly to lower morale among users which in turn leads to lower level of customer service. By not paying attention to the holistic experience, the impact directly falls on the customer whose experience is marred by the service, which takes a longer time due to these design (in) decisions.

What is stopping the customer to abandon the long queues here and go to another efficiently run place where he can get his services faster?

User-Centered Innovation Processes

Interesting post by Eric Von Hippel on User-centered innovation processes.

Should we involve users more in our development processes? Are business models going to change? Interesting article that gives us ample fodder for thought.