The pain points

My local public library has a service counter rectangular in shape and with 2 tills on each long side. If you approach the tills on the right hand side, you can check in books, but not check out. Conversely, if you approach the left hand tills, you can check books out but not check them in. If you have some books to return and you also happen to want to borrow some more books (a pretty common occurrence, I would assume), you are expected to go to the right hand side, first. Then, the attendant logs out from your account, you both walk to other side of the counter, where s/he logs in again in order to check out the new books.

‘Is this because the computers on each side of the counter run different programmes?’, I asked. No, it is exactly the same on all computer terminals. The process is designed this way because someone once thought that users would/ should first drop the books, then go away to browse the shelves, and later come back to the counter to check the new ones out. Never mind that this is not the way users actually behave in the library, and that the existing design is frustrating and time consuming for both users and attendants. It is the status quo, the way things have always been done, but certainly not a user centred view of the library usage experience.

In today’s environment, it is no longer enough to have a great product: you need to also provide great customer experiences. Regularly, you need to replicate your customers’ journey, and verify how easy or frustrating it is to learn about your offers, contact you, acquire or install the product, or even dispose of it at the end of its useful life. At each touch point, consider how you can add value by making life a bit easier for the customer and, then, put the processes in place to do so.

Kensington, the provider of computing accessories best know for its notebook lock system, actively seeks to eliminate what it calls the ‘pain points’. The pain points are any type of situation that negatively impacts on the ‘mobile computing experience’. For instance, Kensington noted that packaging constituted a significant pain point for its customers who bought accessories – e.g., a USB – in airports. Indeed, you won’t have any scissors to hand, and most likely you will be in a hurry and not able (or willing) to stop in a shop and ask for some. So, Kensington redesigned its packaging so that it would be easy to open, but still secure enough for the retailer.

What about your organisation? Are processes developed to fit actual shopping experiences, or do you expect customers to behave in ways that fit the existing processes?

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