Sunday, July 30, 2006

Customer experience and the 'wow' factor

Consistency vs. the 'wow factor' ...

"I'll never forget a moment, a few years back, when I was leading a customer experience project for a major brokerage firm. The company was very proud of its website but wanted to know how it could incrementally improve the design, or add features, perhaps increase the content on the site, to help make it the leading brokerage site online.

As I began the project, I interviewed the stakeholders, the executives at the brokerage headquarters who were tasked with making those improvements. I started with one of the vice presidents and asked her to show me how she currently tracked her own portfolio. She brought up a Web browser and clicked on the bookmark for... Yahoo Finance. (!) I asked her why she wasn't using the tools, features, and various add-ons that her own company had created, at great expense, for its own website. She said that Yahoo Finance was quicker, and easier, and what's more, all her coworkers used it as well.

Even while this company stated its goals to be the high-tech leader of its niche online, the stakeholders themselves revealed how the Web really works: in a competitive environment, whichever company fulfills customers' unmet needs quickest, easiest, and cheapest, will win. I've seen this play out in a number of industries over the past ten years - and it continues, notably in the ongoing contest between Yahoo and Google.

Still, there's a lingering question: isn't it better to be cool? Can't we succeed with "the 'wow' factor"? I was happy that we could contribute earlier this week to Saul Hansell's New York Times column about Yahoo and Google, which touched on this question."   (Continued via Good Experience)       [Usability Resources]


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