Non-library User Experiences

The best user experiences are helpful, genuine and satisfying.  The worst are clumsy, uncomfortable and frustrating.

A lot of people complain about making phone calls to get something done…there isn’t a real person on the other end of the line, the list of options are too complicated, the wait time too long, etc.   One can make the same arguments for doing business online…the directions are too vague or confusing, the page takes too long to load, and there are too many error messages.  There is a tradeoff between convenience and custom service with virtual, phone and in person user experiences.

I pay the bills, but the car insurance bill does not come in my name, so I don’t always get it, or it gets buried, and it’s often a rush to get it paid on time.  (Yes, I tried to change it, but can’t.)  I tried doing it through email, but deleted my first online bill because it looked like spam and not a bill.  Then, I found their online payment system to be frustrating when only one car showed and had to spend extra time on the phone to figure that out. I was really busy when it once again came time to pay, so instead of taking time to see if the online payment would work this time, I called the rep even though I worried she might be frustrated with me.  She didn’t hesitate to find out what I needed, stated the options, and called in my payment for me with efficiency and goodwill.  She listened and realized that my need was not just to pay the bill, but was also to do it in the quickest way possible, and she took the extra steps to make it happen for me.

In person service and user experience is not necessarily better.  For instance, I avoid going to the bank.  Every time I go they ask if I have my debit card.  I know this isn’t a big deal, but I don’t use it and being a minimalist, I don’t carry a bunch of cards in my wallet.  I realize they prefer that people use it to access their bank accounts, but I don’t like being asked for it and being told the advantage of it every time I say I don’t carry it because I don’t use it.  It occurred to me that they are not asking for it and telling the advantages of it because of the benefit to me, their customer.  It’s a deliberate manipulation to get me to use the card because it’s easier for the teller to retrieve the account.  There is a suggestions that they provide faster service if they have it.  The last time I went in, I had to offer all kinds of verification since I only had a photo id.  It’s an offering in the guise a service for the benefit of the customer, when they are the ones who benefit the most, because people might be more likely to use it if they are carrying it around.

I had been thinking about changing insurance companies but the reps attention to my needs and prompt service made me reconsider.  And, since the teller did not go on about the debit card when I said I don’t use it, I don’t dread my next visit to the library so much.  Library workers who listen and pay attention to their patrons, stakeholders, and communities needs are more likely to develop significant relationships, than those who push their agenda upon their patrons, stakeholders and communities.