Thursday, May 01, 2008

Can I Trust You? How Anticipating Problems Can Help Your Brand

More on the relationship between design and brand ...

"Strengthening the brand is a common objective of many of our clients. To help guide their design decisions, we've been measuring how designs can strengthen or weaken a person's engagement with a brand.

In our research, we often see designs that attempt to strengthen brand image through redesigned logos and more prominent messaging. However, we've consistently found that investments in the total user experience positively improve the users' brand engagement more than any new messaging campaign. Anticipating likely problems and communicating trust can go a long way to eliminate frustration and delight the users.

We have come across some examples that show positive results with our users. Here are a few of them.'s Automatic Order Cancellation Feature

For movie and audio professionals, gaffer's tape is a necessity of the job. Used in all different types of situations, it's most important function is to keep cables in place and safe in chaotic locales, like an on-location movie set. Like duct tape, it's wide and easy to apply, but, unlike duct tape, doesn't leave a residue when removed -- important when you're filming at a fancy hotel and don't want to wreck the carpets or wallpaper.

Running out of gaffer's tape is a serious problem, especially on location, but you can't just walk into your local hardware store to pick some up -- it's a real specialty item. Therefore, ordering it is your only option. The problem is that it can take several days to get to you and, if you're only on location for a short period, you could be done before it arrives. has solved this problem for their customers with a very simple enhancement to their e-commerce checkout: an automatic cancellation date. Shoppers can enter a date to cancel their order if FindTape can't arrange for delivery before the requested date. As FindTape processes the order, they keep careful look at the delivery schedule. If they can't ensure they'll deliver it on time, they automatically cancel the order before it heads out the door.

Shoppers, knowing that FindTape is looking out for them, not only felt more secure about placing their immediate order, but thought FindTape understood them better and would take care of other likely problems that might come up. The feature had both short-term and long-term benefits for the organization's relationship with their customers.
DVD Problems at Netflix

Disc damage is an unpleasant fact in the DVD rental business. People drop the discs, put things on them, or accidentally slide them along a rough surface, only to make the disc unplayable. It doesn't take a lot, because the information density on today's DVDs is so packed. A small nick can stop a player in its tracks and render a key scene unviewable.

While the vast majority of Netflix's customers take good care of their disks, accidents do happen. Netflix, without realizing it, could easily send a damaged disk to the next customer. That customer, finding the disk unviewable, would have every right to be frustrated.

On the Netflix site, next the video's listing in the queue, is a very prominent "Report Problem" link. When the customer selects this for a specific title, they can choose "The DVD is damaged, scratched or unplayable" from the menu."    (Continued via UIE, Jared Spool)    [Usability Resources]


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