It’s All About the User Experience

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

by Pete Ferguson

Often in life as an “expert” in something, we look for ways to do something even more by the textbook. Improvement by little incremental steps.

Six Sigma teaches to beat down something to where there is little left to fix.

And in both cases we forget that it isn’t about what the “experts” know – it is all about what the customer experiences.

Last year our company held a hack-a-thon with dozens of entries on improving technology. The winner: how to cut down lines in our lobby for visitors.

Ironically, the winning group had nothing to do with security or facilities. They were technologists who were tired of waiting for our “expert” process when they had a visitor.

In fact, our security group came in fifth place with a different idea.

The real irony – the technologists got to split the prize money while our team is tasked to implement their idea. And it serves us right because we should have been thinking more about the experience and less about the technology over a decade ago.

“Be the customer” is the latest Shared Commitment espoused at my company. And being the customer has had some very interesting experiences because our products need a lot of improvement. But we can’t know that merely by looking at customer feedback.

Someone at Delta (or another airline) was probably looking more at cost cutting when they came up with the idea that your boarding pass should be on the screen of a smart phone instead of standing in line for a printed piece of paper.

Absolutely ingenious.

Someone else was thinking when they decided that if you travel a lot and can pass an extensive background check you should be able to go through the TSA Pre line and skip taking off your shoes and belt and also skip removing your laptop and toiletries from your bag.

It is one of the best user experiences I’ve ever had. I feel almost guilty as I pass through Security in 3-5 minutes while those who travel with me take 15-20.

Almost guilty …

Thinking all about the user experience first involves asking the question “what if” repeatedly. And it involves you shopping your competition as a consumer and focused on the experience. And it involves focusing on user experiences way outside just your industry competition.

Consider Virgin Atlantic. It’s not an airline, it is a nightclub that flies.

Consider Apple Computer. Their success over the last decade wasn’t about a faster and larger black box under the desk – it has been fashion + technology + multimedia and now we all carry slower processors in our pocket with hundreds of uses besides just typing a paper, playing a game, or surfing the internet.

The enduring companies continue to look at the user experience. Not what the customer thinks they want right now (or else Steve Jobs would have designed the faster desktop computer) – it is about improving their customer experience.

If Branson can make flying “fun” – what boring, mundane process can you transform into something people will look forward to participating in?


One thought on “It’s All About the User Experience

  1. Very nice. I wondered, you use lots of graphics like the Homer Simpson one, what do you do about copyright? Love, Dad

    Sent from my iPad

    Address: 15419 S. Via Rancho Grande, Sahuarita, AZ 85629. Phone Number: 520 561 6411

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