Customer experience is the key to sustainable differentiation of a product or service. Specific features, pricing, quality, and speed to market can and will be copied by your competition. However, the customer experience is far more difficult to replicate. Take the experience that Starbucks patrons have come to expect or that of advocates for Apple. It is hard to successfully copy those experiences, despite some big companies attempting to do so.
The customer experience is what drives customers up the loyalty ladder so that they become advocates and help you thrive together- referring you to others as your inspired sales force.
Technology products offer a great way to support your customer experience 24/7/365 days a year. Technology is consistent and functions as it was designed to. Unfortunately, many people consider technology an afterthought rather than a key part of inspiration through customer experience. As a result, too often do people have one or more sins of customer experience present in their technology products.
Buggy – This is the most commonly addressed sin. Needless to say, if your system crashes, shows a blue screen of death, or even just gives an error message, the user experience will drastically suffer. You must work hard to test your products so they don’t crash, and make sure that error conditions are handled in an appropriate manner to ensure a predictably successful outcome.
Confusing – This is harder to discover. The first question is: who is it confusing for? The answer is your target audiences. If you have defined your target audiences well, no one else matters. This means your audience must not be confused using your product. It should use language and navigation that is familiar to your target audience. It should be simple and easy to understand so that people don’t get confused, left with no idea of how to proceed. Confusion is very frustrating. Think about the last time you were confused. You felt inadequate, like there was something wrong with you, like you were not smart enough to figure this out; All feelings you don’t want your customers to experience.
Ugly – While subjective, you can test this with your target audience. People make judgements on how products look. We often wish this wasn’t the case, but we all instantly judge the value of things based on aesthetics. We like to think we are above this, but have you ever seen a high-end jewelry store in an ugly building? It doesn’t work. Your product needs to appeal to your audiences and not simply be viewed as ugly.
Irrelevant – If your product isn’t relevant, it won’t get used. If I am not looking for jewelry, do I even consider the jewelry store? The same is true of your product. It must be relevant to your target customer, and that relevancy needs to be apparent from the moment the product is used. You must clearly show how the product is relevant to the customer, as well as how they will benefit from using it. This one is also a key to initial use; If the potential customer doesn’t feel it is relevant to them right now, they will move on.
When you are designing products, make sure to avoid any of the four sins of customer experience. Design and build products that are bug free (or as close as possible), intuitive, beautiful, and relevant. How do you accomplish this? You leverage product momentum, an inspiring user experience, a higher level of quality, predictability, and comprehensive support.