Saturday, August 26, 2006

Broken Customer Experiences, part 2

This is a continuation of yesterday's post about Seth Godin's talk, found on Google Video, referenced with his permission. More examples can be found on Mark Hurst's Web site,

Another way that customer experiences can be broken is: "I'm not a fish." The experience is designed by someone who isn't the user. (The reference is to a culvert that's designed by a person, not a fish who needs to swim upstream.) You can find many examples of this in appliances. Just try cleaning the inside of a refrigerator, designed with nooks and crannies that don't seem to have a functional purpose other than to capture food particles. Here's an example from Phoenix:

This bench at the Desert Botanical Garden looks like a portion of a concrete culvert or pipe. It's at an odd height and angle, and looks like it would be impossible to actually sit on. Or perhaps, as one person suggested in my last Experienceology workshop, it's broken on purpose and is actually a barrier to keep people out of the cactus. Seth reminds us "broken on purpose" is never a good strategy, as it just makes customers angry.

Another category is Contradictions. Here's the entrance to the park at the base of the TransAmerica building, one of the most famous in San Francisco:

The bronze sign reads, "Provided for the enjoyment of our employees, tenants, and friends."
You can enter this park from just a few feet down, but why lock this gate? The friendly brand message is contradicted by the chained gate, which has clearly been closed for a long time.

Tip of the day: Take a look at your customer experience and make sure you're not sending mixed messages or offering customers something that's broken on purpose.

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