Designing for the Extremes

Having worked in Customer Support for some time now, I’ve become quite obsessed with customer experience.

I’m the nerd that notices bugs in software I use on a daily basis. I also make a mental note of both confusing and delightful user interfaces. I get frustrated when buttons I expect to do one thing do something different entirely.

I pay attention to these things because they matter…a lot. As we’ve talked about before, there are far too many options available for customers to choose from. If your product experience sucks, it’s really easy to find a replacement. Boom – you’ve lost a user forever.

On the flip side, I also think there are a ton of quick wins that instantly upgrade the experience and win over customers with little time investment. The language you use in copy, the way in which you highlight key actions within your product, the accessibility of your contact options – they all play a huge role in delighting the people that pay your bills.

On a recent episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast, I was re-introduced to a thought exercise from Brian Chesky of Airbnb – designing for the extremes.

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Why You Should Be Obsessed With the Frontline of Your Business

A week ago, I called 10 different contractors trying to find someone to do a bit of work. Zero answered. I left five voicemails and didn’t receive a single call back.

Recently, my wife and I walked into a restaurant in downtown Denver to get some food. We stood by the host stand for five minutes while waiters walked by and bartenders served drinks. Not a single person said anything so we walked out.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a utility company trying to set up a new service. They said someone would need to come out to finalize the installation. “Sounds good – how can I set that up?” I asked. They responded that someone would eventually reach out to me. No estimated time frame. No estimated installation date. No contact information I could use to get in touch with the installation team.

In each case, I’m trying to give someone money, but my experience as a customer makes it far less likely that I’m going to do so. I’m definitely not going to recommend them to a friend.

These experiences reinforce a simple idea – the bar for customer experience in business is low.

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