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User Experience

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Communications You Can Feel

By Blog, Marketing Strategy, Technology, User Experience

Have you ever stepped into a car, sat down and closed the door and heard a nice solid “thud” as the door closed? There were no rattles or any objectionable noises at all. And then other times you’ve stepped into a different car and you heard a metallic, clanking kind of sound when you closed the door. At the time you probably made a snap judgment about the quality of the car you were entering. You most likely concluded that the first car was a reliable, sturdy, perhaps more expensive model. And you may have thought the opposite of the second car.

I realize that most people don’t go around listening to the sound of car doors. At the same time I know there are some of you who have heard the sound of the closing door and drew a conclusion based on the sound. You may have even drawn a conclusion about the owner of the car.

The truth is the sound of a closing car door can affect your perception of the quality of the car.

Your Senses and Perception

Have you ever be awakened in the morning by the smell of fresh brewed coffee being made by your significant other? You probably got a warm feeling all over from the aroma and an even warmer feeling inside for the person who was making you the coffee. The smell of the coffee can affect your perception of that person.

Now let’s take the car door and sound, and coffee and smell one step further. Studies have shown that paper and touch affect the way people receive and retain information. These studies have also shown that touch and paper can even influence the way people feel about the companies who use paper to market their products and services.

How Does the Medium Shape the Message?

Dr. David Eagleman is an adjunct associate professor at Stanford University. He has worked with a team of researchers in the Psychiatry Behavioral Sciences Department of the university to determine if the weight and type of paper can affect the perception of individuals who touch and read marketing materials.

“In humans touch represents a powerful form of non-verbal communication. Our sense of touch plays a fundamental role in daily life, from learning about objects to communicating with other people.” – Dr. David Eagleman

He and his research team created marketing materials for three fictitious companies. The materials were presented to test subjects on heavy coated stock, on lighter uncoated paper and on a website.

According to his research, he found that when subjects read a message on heavy, high quality coated paper they remembered it better, even when asked about the massage a week later.

He also found that when the message was printed on a high quality paper stock the individuals had a more positive first impression of the company. And they were more likely to recommend the company to a friend or a colleague. The test subjects rated the quality of the company based on the quality of the paper stock.

Direct Marketing Strategy

Let’s take this research and apply it to your marketing. You want consumers to remember your message and have a positive feeling about your company. I’ve previously discussed how effective direct mail is in reaching new clients and consumers. Now imagine a direct mail piece that goes beyond heavy coated stock.

Imagine a dimensional mail piece where you can go beyond the weight of the paper to the touch and feel of the image on the paper. Imagine feeling the feathers on an image of a bird. Touching and feeling the lines in an image of a circuit board. Or the rough, bumpy feel of the waffle cone in the video below.

We’re talking texture that makes people want to engage and experience your marketing piece. A message that people will share with their friends and colleagues. A marketing piece that will capture attention, and be memorable. A message your customer will see, read and feel!

Our senses help us gather information, draw conclusions, and make decisions. If you want your marketing to make an impression then take advantage of the sense of touch.

The How to BE Points of Customer Service Improvement Programs

By Blog, Consumer Experience, User Experience

Making a MistakeToo often we spend obscene amounts of money acquiring new customers and then cut corners once we have them. Improving customer service is more vital than customer acquisition and costs so much less. Without customer service, your business will take one step forward and two steps back. And the damaging impression that poor customer service causes can last years.

When I was on the phone recently with my Internet provider’s customer service call center, every question I asked caused the woman to pause for 20 seconds before she answered. It didn’t take long to figure out she was looking up her answers on the Internet.

I quickly thanked her for her time, hung up, and redialed for a better-informed customer service employee. I also quickly ranked this company a little lower in my mind.

So let’s take a look at how to be an exceptional customer service program.

Be On Time.

When your customers need help, don’t make them wait. By the time your customers call a helpline, they’re already a little frazzled. If they’re on the phone, some promise you’ve made to them has already gone wrong. They’re hoping you can make it right. It’s never fun to admit you need help. Add in hold music and an extended wait time and you’ve just added another problem to your problem.

Be Informed.

As I discovered on my call to my Internet provider, training your customer service teams is vital. A great example of an informed customer service staff is the Genius Bar at any Apple store. While the term “Genius Bar” may be the most pompous name for a help desk in the history of help desks, these men and women know their stuff. When you go there you get answers and solutions; they’re not going to ask Google for the answers.

Be Empowered.

When customers call, they want to talk to the person who can solve their problem. Getting transferred to the manager and having to explain your issue to another person another time can frustrate the most patient customer, so give your people on the front lines the power to make things right.

Be invested.

Your customer service team needs to possess excellent communication skills. They need to be easily understood. More importantly, they need to care. Empathy goes a long way in troubling situations. When a customer feels that they are being listened to, that the other person is invested in their problem, they’ll walk away from nearly every interaction happier — even if the resolution doesn’t meet their previous expectations

Be available.

Customer service doesn’t begin or end on a help line. Many of your customers need help in other channels, too. Sure, a thorough FAQ page online is a good start, but it’s not enough. The next level of online customer service would be a well-displayed phone number to your help line or an email option. And, of course, online chats are the gold standard where you can turn an issue into an opportunity online.

Think your newly designed website solves all of these navigation and purchase problems. Think again. A recent survey revealed that 83% of customers need some human assistance before making a purchase. Translation? A lack of customer service can result in an ocean of abandoned shopping carts and the lost sales they carry.

An old businessman once said, “You start losing a customer the moment you get them.” The view may be a bit defeatist, but the idea isn’t too far from the truth. Improving customer service isn’t a tough nut to crack. It’s no ancient mystery. It’s a good combination of common sense and effort. Be diligent and your customers will be your customers for years to come.


Is Your UX Driving Your Mobile Users Crazy?

By Blog, Financial Marketing, Mobile Apps, User Experience

Mobile UX CrazyThere’s a lot of mobile user angst out there with mobile apps. If you don’t know definitively that you are NOT driving your mobile users crazy with the user experience (UX) on yours, you probably are.

Being a mobile pain is nothing to beat yourself up about. The mobile landscape is constantly changing as are the needs of its users. However, here are seven tips to keep your mobile users pleased and coming back for more.

  1. Less is always more. The point of a mobile app is for a laser-fine, focused purpose. Your mobile app should be about a single tasks or benefit. It’s not supposed to communicate everything about your company (in fact, if it’s about you, then by definition it’s not about your user). Remember, your app should provide a service. If you can’t say in one sentence what your app does, it should probably be a mobile site instead.
  1. It’s OK to be old. Ever have a smartphone that gets a little long in the tooth way before its time? Too often this is done by developers creating for the cutting- edge phones. Users who have a phone that’s a generation or (gasp) two generations old, end up using apps that their hardware isn’t built to run. It’s OK to be current, but not at the cost of alienating a large percentage of your users. So, be leading edge without being bleeding edge and more people will enjoy what you have to offer.
  1. Be tutorial-free. Say what you want about Apple and the iPhone — and many hardcore mobile critics have — but every device they create is painfully intuitive. Ask someone if they read the user’s manual for their iPhone and they’ll give you that blank, confused look toddlers give you when you play “I’ve got your nose.” You don’t need a user’s manual because the user interface is that simple. Make that simplicity the goal for your user experience. If you think you’ll need a tutorial to guide your users through your mobile offering, you’ve got a problem.
  1. Be welcoming. Requiring user to log on using their Facebook account is cumbersome, obtrusive, and inhospitable. Not to mention there is a growing amount of users who have dropped their Facebook account. There are younger users who have never created one; they live on Instagram or Twitter (Yes, you are now allowed to feel very old).
  1. Is this really necessary? Before you create a native app, ask this vital question. Why are you creating this app? If it’s any version of, “We need to stay current to the mobile trends,” run, don’t walk, away from the project. Creating a web app for the sake of having one can do more harm than good. Native apps are very popular, but they are also very expensive. Look at your goals. If they are achievable with a mobile site, do that instead.
  1. Desktop experts aren’t mobile experts. Building an interface for touches and swipes is dramatically different from building for clicks. It’s like the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. Don’t make the common mistake of transferring your desktop UX to mobile. You’ll have users scratching their heads and dropping your app faster than you can keep track.
  1. Make it quick. Users download apps for speed. They expect your app to work as fast or faster than your mobile website. This audience wants to get things done quickly. They’re in line at the grocery store or waiting for the elevator. Every second is vital. That need for speed means your app should be responsive. Make them wait too long and they will disengage, forget they have the app on their phone and never come back.

The long track to mobile success is also twisty and narrow. Give it your time, discipline and patience to get it right. When you surprise and delight your user, they will let you into their mobile world, and you will become a vital part of their lives. And that makes all the time, discipline and patience worth it — and then some.