Digital Marketing

The User Experience IS Your Brand

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I was going to take the leap today and cancel my landline (insert your “old-fashioned” joke here). But when I went to [insert communication provider’s] website, I was led down a rabbit hole of bad user interface decisions, one after another—it was the web equivalent to the annoying “press 1 for option A” recorded customer service voice that makes you want to hang up and pick a new provider.
(Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to be annoyed.) First was the (relatively thin) main dropdown menu that appeared on hover. I had to mouse down, then over in the exact right spot—it took four tries to click on “Contact Us.” That produced another static dropdown panel with another “Contact Us” option. I then had to select from a large menu of options of things I might be calling about (pay your bill, set up email, careers). I select “move or cancel service.” Now I have to select what service I am calling about. From there, I had to decide between FAQs or a “call us” link. From there I am led to a list of accordion menus repeating the service options I already saw, but the accordion from my previous choice is defaulted to “open.”  NOW I see an actual phone number. That is six choices I have to make just to see a phone number.
If I had been calling to, say, add a service, I would have seriously reconsidered based on that experience. User experience is just as important as good customer service. A poor user experience is just as bad as a rude waitress, annoyed cashier or condescending bank teller—they all lead to a poor impression of the overall brand, which can lead to bad word of mouth (read: nightmare for your brand).  
User experience isn’t rocket science—but it IS a science. And an art. (An artful science?) It comes down to asking, “What do my users need? What do they want? What is the simplest, easiest way I can give that to them?” You want to get real answers to those questions (hence, the science-y part) by doing usability testing, stakeholder interviews, treejack tests, A/B test, etc.
And it’s not just online. If I shop in your store and receive a coupon on my receipt to take an online survey, but the URL to the survey is broken, that’s a missed connection. If your ad in a local magazine lists the address of the store 500 miles away (when there is one smack dab in the middle of my city), that’s a missed connection. It’s connecting the dots of your brand, no matter how a user may interact with it. User experience is a way to add depth, delightfulness and meaning to your brand. Don’t let another missed connection detract from that.
Now let’s talk about that dated logo…

About the Author

For the last 10 years Natalie Kurz has helped clients navigate the rapidly changing digital landscape by guiding them through the process of creating a cohesive user-centered online presence. Her work has included branding and voice definition, digital and social media strategies, integrated marketing campaigns, mobile application design, copywriting, user interface design and Intranet development for clients in the financial, health, consumer product, education and advocacy sectors. She’s had the pleasure of working with industry leaders including Express Scripts, Answers.com, Stifel Nicolaus, Protective Insurance, Northwestern University, Washington University, State Farm, Jiffy Steamer and Purina. She holds a masters degree in journalism from NYU.

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Thoughts on “The User Experience IS Your Brand”

  1. Do you think there is a business reason to make the UX while canceling more confusing? Traditionally canceling over phone leads to a special “retention” department where they are incentivized to make you reconsider your decision to cancel and stay. I immediately thought of how casinos devise the exits to always lead via the slot machines.

  2. Amit, I actually thought about that, but I would have had to go through the same process if I wanted to upgrade my service. I could understand a business reason for burying things you don’t want the user to do (like cancel), but this was across the board the interface for any type of communication with the company.

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