Archive for the ‘User Experience’ Category

Churchill ClubSAP’s CMO stated, “you are dead if you aren’t a customer led organization,” while Intuit’s CMO stated “Intuit’s marketing team serves as growth officers.” An interesting discussion ensued around marketing’s role in shaping the customer experience and the related organizational implications at the CMO Agenda 2013 Summit in Santa Clara on July 31, 2012. Distinguished speakers included Jonathan Becher (CMO, SAP), Nora Denzel (Senior VP, Big Data, Social Design and Marketing, Intuit), Anne Globe (CMO, DreamWorks Animation), and Lorraine Twohill (VP Global Marketing, Google).

One of the pressing issues CMOs face this coming year is whether or not their organization is truly customer centric. Two years ago, I covered the topic of the [Global] Total Customer Experience at the Smart Seminar on Globalization, which led to a feeling of deja-vu as I listened to the continuing customer experience challenges these CMOs discussed. In short, the total customer experience represents the consumer’s brand perception through the total accumulation of experiences that an individual has with the brand across every interaction point. As the number of touchpoints have increased, such as with the introduction of social and mobile, brands have less control over their message. Furthering this problem, poorly aligned and fragmented organizations can easily introduce policies and processes that result in needless friction in the user experience. This has upended marketing and created an organizational gap – who should own the total customer experience? Once that is determined, it is much easier to create brand experiences that go beyond simple utility and truly delight the customers with deep, emotional benefits that transform them into avid fans and loyalists.

Evidence that marketing is attempting to become more customer-centric abounded at the talk with questions raised such as:

  • Should marketing own P&L responsibility?
  • Will marketing disintermediate sales?
  • Does marketing have a role in defining product experiences?

There was considerable support behind making marketing accountable for P&L, while there was an appreciation that marketing would not make a hostile move such as taking over an organization role such as sales. What is clear is that organizations within the firm must work much more closely together to deliver a total customer experience across product experience and marketing channels, which means the separation of such roles will become murkier over time. Traditionally, marketing often assumes the role of being the outside voice of the customer even if there is no clear mandate in place. Now with a near consensus that organizations must pay attention to the total customer experience, the issue of organizational ownership has been raised. If marketing takes ownership over the total customer experience, how do we as marketers define the role and measure its success? Although there are few “C” level positions focused on customer experience today, the numbers are expanding and I expect the role to evolve. Perhaps more importantly, we may want to ask the question: what do we do while we wait for this new corporate position to be introduced into our organization, given we know its importance.

In an upcoming blog, I will address three things you can do to make your firm more customer-centric before your “C” suite is in order:

01. Include your customer in design.
02. Build a healthy relationship with your customer before setting sales targets.
03. Establish an agile marketing organization.


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I had the opportunity to attend BayCHI on March 20th, where Brennan Browne from AnswerLab presented three trendiPads and five lessons that user experience designers need to consider with tablet experiences. Although the focus of the research was on the iPad, I believe the research is largely extensible to other tablet platforms unless otherwise noted.

Here is a synopsis of the insightful talk.

Trend 1: Trading Computer Time for Tablet Time
Prior to introduction, there was a question as to whether the iPad was just going to turn out to be a big iPhone. That question has been answered with a big no. It has become more of a replacement for the laptop; not a rival to the smartphone.

Trend 2: The Tablet and Shared Experiences
The majority of people share their tablet, which means a big security question looms for iOS users since there is no multi-user account service built in. As a result, people are more reluctant to save personal information or authenticate.

Trend 3: Apps versus Web
People can access the web comfortably these days. The tablet-based web browsing experience is considered more pleasurable than boring old desktop browsers.

People need an incentive to download an App with the expectation that it provides more than the Web experience. That being said, Apps are here to stay. App enthusiasts exist and will remain.

Lesson 1: Small Laptop, not Big Phone
7-inch tablets are treated more like big smartphones, but not the 10-inch counterparts. The tablet is becoming more of a multi-use device and a replacement for a laptop/PC in many situations. Its portability makes it particularly useful around the house and in trusted locations with free WiFi such as Starbucks.

Lesson 2: Full Web
It is expected that the full Web is provided on a tablet, not a reduced set of content and functions. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t improve the Web experience on tablets with relevant tactile features.

Lesson 3: Content over Context
People use their tablets as extra portable laptops, but don’t necessarily bring them everywhere. This means that the tablet state and location dictating specific experiences are secondary to core functionality, rich content and a superb interface.

Lesson 4: Shared Device
The fact that the tablet serves as a shared device presents unique challenges, so be sure to consider how features and use cases (e.g. one click purchases) may be affected by multiple users sharing a single device.

Lesson 5: Security Fears
Security is a major concern for tablet users as many are still unfamiliar with the platform. Plan accordingly.

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I’ve had the opportunity to redesign multiple sign-up and checkout experiences over the years. You might think it couldn’t be that hard, but it is never simple from my experience. The sales team may want loads of registration data at sign-up even if it means there is a huge associated bounce rate. Worst case, sales might think, “if they don’t finish the form, then who wants the prospective customer anyway?” On the opposing side, savvy business models such as fermium models may dictate that you capture as many users as possible, even if you don’t know much about them.What is exciting to me is that it looks like we may have a new solution to our registration and checkout woes. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the X.commerce Innovate conference where they announced PayPal Access. Unlike Facebook Connect’s focus on sharing the social graph with merchants, PayPal Access brings a user’s authentic e-commerce profile to the registration and checkout process. I use the word authentic, because a person using PayPal is a real world individual with a bank account and purchase history. This product allows users to checkout without sharing their private financial information with the company or physically going through registration. On top of that, the retailer doesn’t have to give up valuable social graph data Facebook provides to merchants since they also announced a partnership with X.commerce at the conference. In a nutshell, a person brings both their wallet and their friends to the shopping experience.

I’m not saying that registration will cease to exist. What I am saying is that PayPal Access may reduce friction in the registration and purchase process for the 100m+ and growing PayPal users. For SMBs, this just might level the playing field a bit with larger companies that have much bigger technology budgets. A few lines of code is all you need to create frictionless checkout for many prospective customers.

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The mechanics of globalization have been mastered. From workflow and translation memory to statistical machine translation – the capabilities are known, the processes defined, and the expertise is abundant.

So, what’s next you might be asking?

We are entering an era or arriving at the realization that the personalized and integrated experiences we all demand in North America are also desirable globally. The phrase “total customer experience” symbolizes the perception each individual will have of a brand as a result of all of their brand experiences. The centralized, automated form of globalization that has allowed us to scale and expand is evolving towards a form where personal insights about the global audience lead to more relevant experiences across all touchpoints. Following a key principle of Total Customer Experience Design, these insights help guide design (business, technology, interface and graphic design) decisions to be made in defense of the customer.

Want to learn more how you can shift your organization’s mindset by defending your customer in this new era?

Come hear my talk on November 18th at the Smart Seminar on Globalization in Santa Clara. Seating is limited for this Medialocate-sponsored event. If you are interested in attending the invitation-only seminar, please contact Ann Day at annday@medialocate.com

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I recently wrote a blog about my conundrum as to whether I could trust my new iPad for a big European work and vacation trip. I had to balance the challenge of enabling my wife to do serious dissertation work in the British Library, while keeping my kid entertained. The good news is that the iPad largely passed the test. I’ve had some time now to reflect on how my family interacted with this technology during such a demanding trip across 3 countries.

Entertainment. As anyone with young children will attest, it is amazing to witness the accelerated proficiency in navigation children have with touch screen technology. In a few hours, my son was switching apps and turning the devices on and off. Wow! Well, not really, I’ve seen other kids pick up this technology equally fast. What was a surprising observation to me occurred during the flight home from Rome when he started banging on the tablet. I asked him why he was behaving in such a way and he told me that the movie wasn’t working, even though it was playing just fine. He could not discern between movies, games, and interactive books. He expected everything on his tablet to be interactive, which leaves me with the question:  Are movies as we know them dead?

Work. The iPad was largely a success for my wife. Using Pages and GoodReader for collaboration, content creation, file management and file export she was able to conduct her research; albeit the experience was not as user friendly as we’ve come to expect from other aspects of using the iPad. Where things didn’t work so well was with regards to her need to read existing Word docs that contained comments and edits. She couldn’t view any of the comments; therefore, she was required to drag hard copies around London or do without. The silver lining came with the small form factor and long battery life of the iPad.

Conclusion. There is no question at this point that a new category of device has been created. The connected home just got more crowded, making technology divergence more the predictable path than convergence – darn, I was hoping that soon a single one of my devices could own the living room. What is clear is that new attributes must be factored into customer segmentation and user experience research. Interaction ‘savvyness’ is critical to understand. To draw a comparison, my wife trucked an Apple wireless keyboard into the library each day because there was no way she could type on a touch screen all day long since one error in transcribing from a thirteenth-century manuscript would have been detrimental to her research. My son on the other hand, tried to swipe the top of a glass case when he was looking at a medieval manuscript in Siena’s Duomo.  It was a bummer to see his disappointment when the page didn’t turn!

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Old ClassroomI work in the Strategy practice at LEVEL Studios which focuses on globalization, organizational design and product management. Lesser known is that I moonlight as an adjunct faculty member at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business. I find it tremendously inspiring to bring my corporate skills to students in academia and in turn bring my experience in academia back to Corporate America. The challenges I face teaching aren’t so different from the challenges my clients face when establishing a good online strategy. First impressions are key: just like students size you up in the first 5 minutes of class, website visitors size up the value of a site in seconds. Here are two other classroom challenges I’ve faced that translate well into tactics I use for helping my clients achieve their online goals.

There are many of them and only one of you, yet a personal connection counts.

I have outgoing students, busy athletes, international students and just about every other type of student imaginable. I have to speak to the group, but I also have to connect with each of them individually at the same time. First, I have found that students value honesty above all. They don’t want marketing spin, and they can see right through it. Second, I use a combination of mediums in my classroom, including lectures, guest speakers and videos, to keep everyone interested in a way that works for them personally. Third, I have to meet their expectations or deal with failure in multiples. For instance, if I communicate the requirements of an assignment poorly, I have to deal with 30 mistakes, not just one. Most important, these factors impact my reputation, which can spread online and affect interest and enrollment in future classes I teach.

Change isn’t easy, but consistency is just as tough.

Although I vigorously prepare my lecture notes, what I end up saying often varies from plan. This is due, in part, to the unexpected questions from students during lectures (a great thing because this is how true learning happens). To counter this diversion from the key points I planned to discuss, I make sure that these points are reinforced through my syllabus, weekly emails and homework. Another challenge I face is how to continually innovate while still delivering a consistent message to my audience. I find that students want to learn about virtually any topic I raise in class; but if I ask them in advance, I don’t always get an enthusiastic response. These are times when I simply need the confidence to go for it when I think I’ve come up with a new way of teaching a topic. Lastly, I need to know if I’m achieving my long-term goals. Ultimately, I want students engaged at a level that ensures they walk away with key lessons that will stick for years to come. Midway through the class, I survey students to understand their concerns, and I can make any corrections necessary. I also stay in touch with a handful of students from each class through LinkedIn, often inviting them back to my class years later as guest speakers.

How does this relate to a good online strategy? Sometimes all you need is a good analogy to help you see your projects and problems from a new perspective.

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