Customer Experience on My Mind

One Star Review for a bad experience

At Rutabaga, we’ve got our mind on experience and experience on our mind. So much so that “experience over everything” became our company’s first guiding principle.

We place premium value on creating superior experiences – for our customers, partners, and team members. Our conviction is that by delivering exceptional experiences without compromise, everything else – growth, success, and innovation – will naturally follow.

Why do we place such a premium on experience? Because bad experiences led us to founding Rutabaga. As practitioners in fields chartered with creating good customer experiences we found it ironic how often we were subjected to bad ones. We knew we didn’t want to keep doing this line of work with the day-to-day being the antithesis of the work itself – a good experience.

Exceptional experiences are a sum of all parts; the smallest of transgressions can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Here’s three examples of recent experiences that left something to be desired. A mix of broad patterns we’ve observed and smaller one-off infractions. Hopefully these examples spark reflection on ways you might be able to improve experiences in the future.

Putting Metrics Before Experience:

When checking out at a large, nationally recognized grocery chain, with a line building up well into the aisle, the point of sale system prompted me to complete a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. For those not familiar, it’s the classic question, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?” Now, while I wasn’t there on a whim, I was there to tackle my shopping list and get on with my day. This store is a regular part of my existence, and there is some familiarity there. But in that moment, having served my time in line, and now having anxious shoppers stack up behind me, I’m being asked to help the store out with an answer I’ve truthfully never thought about before.

It definitely felt like the grocery chain prioritized metrics over customer experience. Given the context of the situation, the response to the survey skewed negative. Also, does anyone recommend grocery chains to their friends or colleagues?

Tools Built for too Narrow an Audience:

Our Head of Design is tired of hearing from her product and engineering peers that they can’t find anything in her design files. It’s no fault of her own, rather it’s because of the tool’s information architecture, or lack thereof. She resorted to creating a colossal arrow with the word HERE in all caps to orient the team to the specced wireframes ready for development. If you watch the Good Place you might hear, in Kristen Bell’s voice as the (spoiler alert) fake Eleanor, saying, ‘Forking Fragma.’
Side bar: There’s a running joke on our team, don’t build a company with a name that starts with the first letter of an expletive word. It’s too easy to use an alliteration. 

In this case, the product we’re using is a tool built for designers by designers. That’s a good start until a non-designer needs to use the tool to find mission critical information, and cannot orient themselves because it wasn’t built to map to their mental model. These situations deepen siloes and worsen data fragmentation.

Form Fields that Require Unnecessary Data Entry:

For people reading this who are located in the US, our physical addresses have a common format: number, street, apartment or suite number (if applicable), city, state, and zip code. That’s how you write addresses on letters and how most eCommerce sites ask for your shipping address and billing information. Yet, following this format means the customer completes at least two unnecessary fields: city and state. Instead, if the form put zip code first, city and state could be programmatically populated. This might seem trivial, but given how many times this experience happens (nearly every online transaction, save where you have an account) the amount of time users spend unnecessarily entering information adds steps to the checkout process wasting their time, and increasing risk of cart abandonment.

I bring this example up because I was booking a hotel room through one of the last minute deal sites. Their checkout process put zip code first, and I was delighted to not have to enter the city and state. It was done for me, and saved me time.

Experience can make or break the longevity of your relationship with customers and it can be a differentiator from competitors. Prioritize good customer experiences, even the little things, that map to your customers’ mental models and you’ll reap the reward of loyalty.

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