When was the Customer Experience ever NOT a Priority?

I have a hard time processing statements like this:
“Meeting the expectations of today’s consumer is tricky business.” These are really common types of statements in today’s digital centric, retail world and I’ve been seeing them a lot over the last couple of years. It’s as if the retail customer experience has changed. I mean like really changed. Since the dawn of retail time, A product is sold and a product is bought. If the retailer was nice to you, it was a plus. If the retailer knew your name, even better. If the product was good, that’s great. If the product was great, even better. If the product is inferior, then all bets are off. If the retailer, could care less, then consumers spoke with their dollars and their feet.

That has not changed. Even today.

What has changed is the ability to learn more about the customer. What hasn’t changed is the way you’re supposed to treat the customer. What hasn’t changed is giving the customer a great product or service. Why is this any different today than it was a hundred years ago? Has technology caused a greater divide in the customer experience? Maybe. I thought it was to close the chasm that was brought on by competition and choices. The thinking was that because marketers were now armed with lots of data there would now be a more harmonious relationship. A better customer experience.

Marketers have become so obsessed with tools and resources that drive sales, that they have forgotten about, wait for it, the customer and the experience. This is not a difficult thing. Sometimes I think that marketing stacks get so high that marketers and retailers can’t see the customer that’s standing behind them. To hear companies state that they are now, more than ever, going to start focusing on the customer, just baffles me. When did this change and why did it ever? Why are we making it so difficult?

 

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It’s always been about user experience.

Why should social media be any different? Online or Offline, the user experience and the need for that to be “actualized” takes precedence over all things.

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How does the user measure ROI in social networks?

I’ve been wrestling with this lately and maybe you can help. If I’m the social networking user and I frequent my favorite social network everyday, how should I measure my ROI? My investment of time to the site should be rewarded with what? The quality of my experience? What exactly is that? The number of people I meet? The real people I meet? the number of people I actually communicate with? The amount of conversations? Is it the stuff I create? The amount of personal interactions? the amount of micro interactions? The number of photos or songs I share?  Is it the quality of my everyday engagement?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes…..It’s all of those things. To each person, it is one of those, or all of the above.

So perhaps it looks something like this:

Do you see the dilemma though? I had previously written about user experience versus user interface, but what it really comes down to beyond the user experience is, the return on the user expereince or  the ROUE.  As a potential user of your social site, I need YOU the marketer, builder, architect or whomever- to show me quickly what my ROUE will be.  Because lets face it, I don’t want to work too hard to engage others or create content. Perhaps it’s the WIIFM paradigm? “What’s in it for me”.

Is it the tools that are available for the user to create UGC? Is that a big feature? It is for Myspace. Is it the ability to add hundreds of “friends”? It is to Facebook. Is it the ability to network with notable people in business? It is to LinkedIn. You see each site has a different ROUE to offer the user. What keeps the user coming back in each scenario is, when we boil it down- the response, the return, the pay-off, the money shot.  We are “geeked” by the response that we receive from whomever. The user investment for the user, is their time and efforts, and the reward for the user is a response from others. Write a blog and no one reads it, how much and how long will you write? It’s predicated on a response. Take nny user generated content created in a vacuum and the creator won’t be doing it for very long.

So perhaps the measurement should be Return on user effort as much as it is Return on user experience?  Think about why YouTube is so popular. Well, it’s a few things. It’s the ability to create content for free, the ability to share it, the possibility of getting noticed, a return on the user generated content, communicating with others, a response. Notoriety. 15 minutes of fame.

So next time you’re evaluating the NBT of social networks, Look at the ROUE.  Is the return on user experience and return on user effort very high? You should be able to determine that fairly quickly. In my follow up piece, I’m going to look at ROI and engagement and how we measure those as a barometer of social media success.