October 27, 2003 Program Summary by Adele Sommers
John Bowie, a Colorado-based consultant, usability researcher, and senior member of the STC, greeted a packed house as he introduced his powerful and down-to-earth observations about how customers think about products and services.
It wasn't hard to relate to the scenarios John described that characterize the Total Customer Experience. Every aspect of a consumer's interaction with a product or service comes into playfrom initial telephone conversations and personal greetings to downstream product or service support, John told his attentive listeners. Each touch point represents a critical opportunity to pleasantly engage customers and increase their loyalty or alienate them into disgruntled silence.
In a superbly crafted presentation combining visuals, sound effects, and movies, John illustrated the frustrating plight of many consumers today and what technical communicators and product and service designers can do about it.
Job 1 meets Job 2
Years of technical communication experience at a Fortune 25 company helped John surface his customers' fundamental needgetting their jobs donea goal he calls Job 1. Job 1 represents the professional or personal activities people were trying to perform before they sought a product or service to help them. For example, Job 1 might be nursing sick patients back to health, doing people's taxes, teaching, designing homes, or playing computer games.
John pointed out that a product (such as electronic equipment, a gadget, tool, or software system) or service (such as an airline flight or auto repair) can complicate matters by introducing its own complex requirements. These requirements may entail queuing, waiting, installation, setup, programming, learning, maintaining, and troubleshootingin other words, a whole set of activities that can take on a life of their own.
Think about buying and setting up a new VCR. Don't you just dread the thought? How about losing your luggage during a plane flight? Especially if it occurs after long flight delays, cramped conditions, and arcane passenger rules, who wouldn't feel crummy after the whole experience is over? John calls this entire family of product- or service-induced hassles Job 2.
Zeroing in on the problem
John explained that it's the Job 2 activities that can make consumers feel really, really stupid or terribly resentful. Worse, those activities can take up many hours of precious time, sometimes preventing customers from getting Job 1 done at all!
What makes Job 2 activities so frustrating is that they often involve many nonintuitive steps that cause people to stumble and fall. And the more components there are to the system, the more steps there are and the more complicated that system is to use.
Whenever we make people memorize or retrieve information they normally wouldn't need to know, or perform tasks that weren't part of their Job 1 activities to begin with, we are doing them a great disservice by impeding their progress with their primary jobs, he explained. And as long as consumers have choices, they will exercise them to achieve the most pleasant and efficient outcomes possible. John's research has revealed that only 4% of dissatisfied customers ever complain to a company, yet 6590% of those unhappy, non-complaining customers would never buy from that company again.
What we can do about it
John emphasized that to help dramatically improve our customers' experiences, we can do the following:
For more information, see:
John's Total Customer Experience (TCE) Labs Web site (http://www.tcelabs.com)
John's October 27th presentation (a 1.2MB PDF file)
John's November 2003 Intercom article (a 380K PDF file), Information Engineering for the 21st Century
An article discussing John's philosophy (a 568K PDF file), The Harmonics of Usability, by Adele Sommers
To send John your own stories:
Please send case studies of successes and challenges, or any new techniques and strategies that you discover. You can send them to John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photography by Mary Meyer.
Beyond Information Engineering: An Introduction to Total Customer Experience Design
|Date:||Monday evening, October 27, 2003|
John Bowie, founder and chief executive customer of Total Customer Experience Labs (TCE Labs at http://tcelabs.com). While working for a Fortune 25 computer company many years ago, John discovered that customers resisted all attempts to teach them how to use the companys high-tech products. He began exploring ways to make products smarter, thus requiring less documentation, training, and support, and conducted usability tests to discover how customers failed. Along the way he formulated a set of ideas, models, and methodologies for how customers and products interact and collaborate. He calls this approach Information Engineering.
John has worked with clients that include Microsoft, IBM, HP, and the Economic Development Board of Singapore. He is a popular speaker and author, and is currently writing a series of TCE books for publication in 2004.
Information Engineering: An Introduction to Total Customer Experience
Design addressed this smoldering question: How can we design
products and services that just work? A product that produces maximum
results with minimum effort. A service that delivers exactly what customers
want, precisely when they want it. A product without manuals, without
a learning curve, whose warranty and technical support are seldom used.
A service that amazes and delights its customers from initial contact
through to completion. To explore the issues, John answered these key