Thursday, August 11, 2011
Eating fast food is my most dubious habit. To me, it is neither a culinary delight, nor a tolerable source of nutrition. However, every once in a while and especially when I am enjoying my passion for traveling foreign countries and getting immersed into different cultures, the chances are high: I will end up in fast food shop. Most of the times, it will be a chain with stores all over the planet. The names are well known. In situations like that, when it comes down to choosing between exciting foreign cuisine and a trusted but maybe less exciting burger, the burger simply seems to be the most reasonable choice.
This choice of experience is no exceptional case for human nature. Albeit the awareness of possibly missing out on a remarkable experience, I am turning myself to a relationship of trust. Even though it might not be the best experience in the world, I know what to expect. In commercial terms, my need can be described as a customer experience of consistency, which is an important driver for the trust relationship between a customer and a brand.
Not surprisingly, the described experience is a major revenue point for international fast food chains, and the example can be related to almost every service or product. For instance, when deciding to try a completely new device experience, such as a tablet computer. For an appreciator of the functionality of an iPhone, it is straightforward to choose an iPad. Despite the significant monetary investment that it requires, a baseline user experience is shared among the devices. Overall this reduces the possibility of the new purchase to be a technologic gamble as well as a source of frustration.
Generally speaking, consistency within multichannel experiences is a design challenge that concerns a wide variety of brands and services. Multichannel experiences exist simultaneously among several customer touch-points. Online as well as offline, a coherent and integrated customer experience builds up trust by mediating competence and direction as well as generating perceived familiarity. Despite the broadness of the problem space of managing a trusted relationship between customers and services, almost all key issues and design requirements can be determined, investigated and revised. Consistency within multichannel experiences in this case is achieved through the following characteristics.
- Coherent - basic idea of the service is perceived as consistent across channels.
- Complementary - coherent service experience delights with specific benefits within chosen service channel.
- Simultaneous - benefits of service channel can be combined as needed.
- Shiftable - service adapts to customer flexibility and present needs.
- Synchronized - service allows shifting between channels and shared features across service a shared among channel.
Characteristics like these not only ensure that the service delivers consistently among websites, microsites, mail, social media, in-store and even call centre experiences. Familiarity and stability also improve the overall quality of the service beyond the perception of trust and allow design space to delight with innovation and significantly increase adoption rates of new features and services.
By Robert Brauer. Robert holds a BSc in International Media Informatics from the University of Applied Sciences Bremen along with a MSc in Human-Computer Interactions with Ergonomics from University College London. He has 3 years experience in designing and developing interfaces for mobile platforms and web based applications.
Prior to joining Foviance in April 2011, Robert worked as a research associate and application designer for such organisations as IBM Research & Development, the Fraunhofer Society and the University of Applied Sciences Bremen.
Image: Steve Crane