Here’s another nice piece on user experience; it seems to be something of a theme for me right now.
Like many similar articles, this deals with private sector customs relationship management – and this is a topic that doesn’t translate well to the public sector. As I’ve blogged about before, we don’t traditionally tend to feel we have to make an effort to keep our customers, or to go the extra mile to make them happy, because 99.9% of them have no choice about who provides their roads or their social care or their schools. So, as my mother likes to say, “They’ll get what they’re given and be grateful.”
The article talks about 5 main points:
1. Customers are not listening to what you have to say about your business.
2. Customers know more about your business than you do.
3. Customers create their own experience.
4. Customer interactions are complex and unpredictable.
5. Customer (and user) communities are where the knowledge is.
These excerpts sum it up for me:
“Companies cannot pretend to know more than their customers about what they want to do.”
We provide something and tell our citizens what we expect them to use it for … but, typically, they choose to be difficult and do things a different way. How ungrateful is that, when we’ve gone to so much trouble? Channel shift is a great example. We built a website so citizens can find everything they need online, and can stop calling the council to find out stuff. But they keep calling! What’s the matter with them? Don’t they know it’s all on the website? Why are they wasting our time, and theirs, making phone calls? Clearly they just don’t get it.
Or, y’know, maybe our website is rubbish and makes it impossible to find out what they need to know. Maybe the page is out of date and the email mailbox is obsolete and the opening times quoted are for an office that’s been closed for 3 years. Maybe.
“… the customer experience should be about building the infrastructure that allows customers to do whatever they want to do through whatever channel they choose to do it.”
If a phone call gets the job done, people will phone. If none of the options work and they can’t get an answer, they’ll say rude things about us on Twitter. And we can’t stop them.
“… companies need to throw out the notion that they can create, manage and control customer experience … (They) cannot create customer experience, customers create their own experiences.”
If we say we have a website where everything can be found, and website visitors say they can’t find what they’re looking for, then clearly both things cannot be true. And defining someone else’s reality or experience for them is something that happens in bad relationships, not healthy ones.
So if our customers – yes, that’s what they are, even if they don’t have a choice about it – if our customers say their experience is poor, then poor is what it is. And even if they don’t have the option of using a different provider, and are stuck with us, what in actual fact is stopping us from listening to that feedback and doing something about it?