I collect user experiences.
I take pleasure in observing or experiencing the good ones. The ones that plant favorable memories about brand so that I, in a purely unconscious and Pavlovian way, will seek to repeat these experiences. Obviously unpleasant memories have an equal yet adverse effect on consumer choice and behavior.
I'm particularly interested in experiences that move from one channel to another, connect, intertwine, aggregate, get smarter about me and what I want. And remember it the next time.
So I have stories. Lots of stories. That I pull out for client meetings, or presentations, and to help build business cases and to explain to people what multi-channel interactive solutions are and what this means to their brand.
Naturally, on this journey I am exposed to and collect bad multi-channel user experiences as well, although I don't seek them out. Here is an example:
Like so many urban professionals, I do meetings at coffee shops. I often do work in coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels, picking up wi-fi wherever I go. It's there, it's easy to tap into, it's free. Caribou was the first one to really get us going on the idea that it should be free and easy. I thank them for that.
Starbucks wi-fi to my knowledge has never been free. So if I can choose someplace else to meet someone for coffee, I will. Last week, I had a meeting at a Starbucks, got there early and really wanted to get on the Internet. Asked the barista if they had free wi-fi. She said no, but that I could buy a pre-paid coffee card with a code that would give me access to wi-fi. Okay. Did that.
Step 1: Buy Pre-paid Card with Code
Step 2: Open browser, follow URL and instructions on back of card where I enter the code and the scratch off secret number associated with it
(Now, this is all it really guided me to do on the card and after submitting the code online. So for someone really not familiar, they would think this is all there is to it, right? Wrong.)
Step 3: Go to Starbucks home page, click on link to get on the internet (ATT co-brand)
Step 4: Enter your promo code to get on. It is denied. Fat-fingered? Try again. Denied.
Get up, go to get in line at coffee counter, ask why code from card does not work. Barista comes over to my table, takes me to a completely different URL on the Starbucks site where I have to set up a full account with ATT. Hmmmm. Just for Wi-Fi. And I'm supposedly pretty advanced in terms of this crazy InterWeb space. If I were an average customer and not an experience collector I would now just give up, because it has already been 30 minutes and I am still not on. Barista cheerfully explains to me that the account set-up is necessary because the card I bought is actually a rewards card and now I would be eligible for all sorts of special stuff from Starbucks! I look at the $5 coffee card I bought and it says nothing at all about rewards. Or that it is a rewards card. Barista who sold it to me said nothing about it being a rewards card.
I go back to the Starbucks/ATT homepage mash-up login interface, enter my new login ID and password, hold my breath and lo and behold, I have a connection to the Internet!! Wow.
I think this is what we would call too much squeeze for the juice.
This, my friends, is a multi-channel user experience. There is the physical store presence where the card is sold. There is the drive to the virtual world where the brand attributes live on. There is engagement (and co-branding) with other properties in this space, and there is a trigger email that reaches out to me beyond the confines of the site itself.
Did someone at Starbucks and/or ATT actually go through this process like a user would?
Have they been to their competitors spaces to understand what that experience is like?
These are user-centered questions and should result in improvements and changes to the process.