I am thinking of writing a paper for the IA Summit around change management, customer service, and user experience, “Rethinking customer service through the eyes of user experience”.  In initial research I am finding I am not the only one that’s starting to think about this.  I found Brandon Schauer of Adaptive Path is also talking about it as well many who spoke at MX 2007.

I first got introduced to the idea when I was working on a project for a large broadband provider in the UK. They wanted to update and make some changes to their broadband CD.  Unlike the US, providers in the UK do not send people out to help you set up your broadband, instead you are sent all the tools and expected to sort it out for yourself.  This CD is very successful amongst it’s users so we needed to be careful about how we changed the process.  The business wanted more people to sign up for an account with the company for various business goals. The current process requires the user to watch all the 3D videos which illustrate the entire process and once they get through it all (including some software installs) they then are told they are connected. Then they can sign up for a company account.

Now I don’t know about you but if I were told I was connected I wouldn’t be bothering with a form.  I’d be off to wander the internet. Thus I suggested that the process be changed so that as someone is installing the software then they are also able to sign up for an account. However, I needed to check with tech and with the company to make sure that the infrastructure was in place to support this. The PM felt this would potentially destroy the user experience but as you can see by Jesse James Garrett’s graph below the continuous experience which allows another process to start as you are waiting for another one to finish is a better and happier user experience:

User Experience ContinumThis allows the user to keep working while waiting for something else to finish.  Also, in this case, it keeps the user there at the computer, as a captive audience. If they really were not interested they could also click the “not interested” button and go get a cup of tea.

This case demonstrates how the system / user experience can affect the view of the brand and the experience a user has with said brand. In this case, users love this CD and really like the products of this company.  If we as the designers of the experience create a negative experience for the user than we can also negatively impact the business.

This is what I have been thinking about lately and the reasons for wanting to write the paper and branding my thinking about this as “Customer Experience”.