I put myself in the position of customer yesterday - trying to trade with some of the leading technology companies of our time.
I tried 20 in total.
Most of these companies would claim they would at a minimum help you understand your customer. Some would claim to be leaders in improving customer experience. Yet all but one failed a very simple test. To contact them I had to fill in an online web form.
I hate online web forms with a vengeance.
To me they say: "You customer, You must do things my way if you want to trade with me."
- They force my compliance with your data fields,
- They mean I have no record of the correspondence (you do), not even which email or phone number I have given you (that's my data that is).
- They tell me what I should tell you.
- They won't accept the realities of unstructured data.
- They don't allow me to send attachments.
- They make me act in the way you want and say only what you'll allow.
- They cost me time in later clarifications an email and attachment could have resolved.
As I came across example after example yesterday I understood how so many have so far still to go on the journey to putting the customer first (not customer centric, but customer as partner). The door to their businesses had been designed to serve those on the inside better than those on the outside.
It put me in mind of a restaurant I once had lunch at where I saw half of the customers turn away because the door was designed to be pushed rather than pulled open. Embarrassed customers tried the door and when it didn't work the way they expected, they turned and walked. If the proprietors reversed the door they would double their trade.
Food for thought for CX and UX designers.