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MyCustomer.com

Designing the customer experience: part one

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1st Aug 2007
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photo of Stuart Lauchlan

By Stuart Lauchlan, news and analysis editor

What defines a good customer experience? Is it when you walk into a smart restaurant to be greeted by a charming maitre d’ who escorts you to your secluded booth in the corner with a panoramic view of the city before talking you through the night’s specials and advising you on the perfect wine to accompany the delicious food that you’re about to eat?

Or is it when you visit the Doctor Who Theme Restaurant where you’re sat in a Dalek-shaped chair by a waiter dressed as a Time Lord and offered Ood-burger and fries, topped with Slitheen sauce and washed down with Cyberman juice. The food’s not very good, but all around you are props from the TV series.

The answer, of course, is it’s horses for courses. If you’re a gourmet, the Dr Who experience is a nightmare waiting to happen; if you’re a Dr Who fan with kids, the Dr Who experience is a dream come true and the indifferent food isn’t a problem. The latter option is the ‘wow factor’ experience – if we build it, they will come. The customer isn’t a central part of the experience, the experience is all and the customer is a mass market consumer. In the first case, the experience is all about the customer and pandering to his or her needs.

Now translate that over to the B2C world of e-commerce. How do we measure and design a good customer experience there? We can go to a website that is simple, stripped down, no plug-ins required and which enables you to find the product that you’re looking for within seconds. You can find your desired product, complete your purchase and be checked out within a matter of minutes. Less is very much more.

Or you can go to a website that is a mass of colour, design and ‘clever stuff’. It matches the brand of the offline company. It’s glossy, it’s sophisticated, it has all the bells and whistles you can throw at it. Someone’s clearly spent a lot of money on it. The only problem is you can’t find the product you’re looking for, it’s difficult to get through checkout and ooops! - a plug-in has just caused your browser to crash so you’ll have to start again.

So how does this happen? And how can you design for a better customer experience?

Part two, customer experience problems and solutions, click here.

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