A while back, I spoke about how I’ve been noticing User Experience (UX) becoming more of a differentiator across various industries. From airlines to fast food to automobiles, it is the entire experience someone has with a particular brand that brings people back for more, often trumping price as the driving reason people spend their money. I can speak from personal experience on this. I recently upgraded my satellite DVR to support TiVo instead of the standard interface on the box. Sure, it costs me an extra 10 bucks a month, but I’m willing to pay it for that enhanced experience and lack of frustration Granted, I’m a UX geek, so maybe that’s not a surprise that I’d pay the extra every month.
So, let’s take a broader look around, starting with fast food. In rural New Hampshire, an existing McDonalds, built in the 80s, was recently torn down and replaced with a completely new store. This new building is very modern, displaying large video menus and café style seating around the dining area. It was designed with the customer in mind. In another example, just up the road, there is a Dunkin’ Donuts. It also boasts video menus, along with USB power wall plugs that support charging mobile devices. Swing back south and the discerning shopper can locate a Toyota dealership that rebuilt its showroom with the goal of becoming eco-friendly, with marble floors and glass walls to rival luxury hotels.
All of these places provide free Wi-Fi to make the customer experience more enjoyable while they visit. The list goes on, but the pattern is becoming clear. Businesses are moving beyond their standard practice of trying to compete on price alone. Recognizing while cost is still important, it’s the total customer experience that keeps bringing people back. Jordan’s Furniture, which has been a New England fixture for years, even has the message on the side of their delivery trucks: “Not just a store… an experience!” Those words are enough to warm a UX designer’s heart. Whether you are using a hand-held device or visiting a retail site, it is clear, the consumer experience is everything.