10 reasons you should be more obsessed with your users

Lots of clients and organisations pay lip service to being customer centric. In this week’s podcast we give you the arguments to convince them that lip service is not enough. Being user centric is more important than ever before.

Paul Boag:
Lots of clients and organizations pay lip service to being customer centric. And that’s why in this week’s podcast we’re going to give you arguments to convince them that lip service is not enough. Being user centric is more important than ever before.

Add your own reasons or check out the other links mentioned in the show.

Hello and welcome to boagworld.com, the podcast for all of those involved in designing, developing and running websites on a daily basis. My name is Paul and joining me is Marcus. Hello Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Hello Paul. How are you? I haven’t seen you. You’ve been away, haven’t you?

Paul Boag:
I’m always away at the moment. I’m super jetlagged today. Getting up – overrated. Flip me was that difficult this morning.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I found that when we both – when we went to Chicago last time, I struggled to get up and I had no problem going to bed. So there wasn’t a point because often when you’re jetlagged, you kind of wake up at four in the morning, don’t you?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Nope, none of that, I was just knackered. For the whole time.

Paul Boag:
Yes. I did – I woke up at 3 so, and then kind of sat there for a bit, then went back to sleep, then didn’t want to wake up this morning. So there you go, such is life. But it was a really good conference.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes I was going to say how was it?

Paul Boag:
Yes, I was in – it was the Blend Conference in Charlotte and I have to say, I think it was probably the best conference I’ve been to this year.

Marcus Lillington:
I thought you were going to say ever then, which would’ve been much more better-er.

Paul Boag:
Yes, maybe. I certainly, I met some very cool people.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
Which was very exciting and we had such a laugh. I’ve not laughed so much in a long, long time.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s really good, because I know that you were kind of like oh, I’ve got to get on another plane and go to something …

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
So I’m pleased it worked out well.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it was good. And the talks were excellent as well. I didn’t do – I did a day’s worth of the conference out of the two, because I was knackered and lazy basically.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I know you shouldn’t. But I’ve always seen conferences as a kind of like an excuse to put your feet up a bit.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Yes, they kind of are in principle, but I always come back exhausted from them. You kind of have to put your feet up a bit.

Marcus Lillington:
Well no but I mean I can – I know that often people that work for large institutions and who have kind of like fought to get a ticket from their boss or whatever they feel like it’s their duty to go to every single thing and take notes on everything. But I’m kind of like well I’m just lazy really.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I am as well. But the talks I went to see were absolutely excellent, a really good one on information architecture, a really good one about kind of the next generation of cool CSS stuff that’s coming along.

Marcus Lillington:
That sounds boring. The first one sounded good.

Paul Boag:
Yes, you would have really enjoyed. The first one was by a girl.

Marcus Lillington:
A little girl.

Paul Boag:
Well she is very small and petite. So – but no a lady called Abby, all I know her is Abby the AI girl because she is …

Marcus Lillington:
Or the IA girl even.

Paul Boag:
IA girl, because her URL is abbytheia.com. So I will put a link in the show notes to her anyway. I can’t remember her second name. Sorry Abby.

Marcus Lillington:
What was her – give me one thing that was cool. Not to put you on the spot or anything.

Paul Boag:
Yes, she differentiated between information and content. And the kind of – the way that she was talking was that essentially we all have different mental models. And so content or data is the stuff we put on our site. Information is our understanding of it. And that – because, so when we’re architecting information, so to speak, we’re not just organizing content into neat silos, we’re helping people interpret that content in a way that it it’s understandable by them. So she gave a great example, which I really liked, which was about tomatoes. When you go into supermarket …

Marcus Lillington:
Bet she didn’t say that, did she?

Paul Boag:
Sorry?

Marcus Lillington:
She didn’t say that though, did she?

Paul Boag:
No, she said tomatoes. But no …

Marcus Lillington:
Anyway, yes, sorry I interrupted rudely.

Paul Boag:
It’s a valid interruption to be quite frank. We need to pull up these Americans on their – I’ve never been – if people had read my talk the wrong way and if it hadn’t been for the fact that my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek, I would have sounded like so xenophobic in my talk. I was so rude to the Americans. It was brilliant fun. Anyway that’s beside the point. So she gave the example of tomatoes and about how when you into the supermarket, tomatoes are found at the veg counter. Why are they not found on the fruit counter? Because they’re actually a fruit and that was kind of the point that she was driving at is that you may know something as being accurate or right, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for the user, if that makes sense.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. Yes, cool. I mean that kind of sounds like good labeling to me.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it really – yes, it was. She didn’t say anything set your mind ablaze, but it was just very well argued and logical that she was arguing really about the psychology behind information architecture rather than the kind of librarian side of it. So it was just making it clear that it’s not just about organizing things logically, it is about fitting with user’s mental models.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. Cool, I agree with that.

Paul Boag:
Yes. I think you ought to read her book, because it’s small and short and has big letters in it. So you will like that.

Marcus Lillington:
Big letters is good definitely.

Paul Boag:
I know how important this is to you these days.

Marcus Lillington:
Although I have a new pair of glasses. I have – I got – I went and had my eyes tested and I have some new reading glasses, because they have weakened. But the problem is they’re fantastic for like using on an iPad, but if I’m a yard away from my monitor I can’t see it. I have to use the old glasses for that. I’m now a two-glasses-Marcus.

Paul Boag:
There you go. I weep for you. What you need is a big cinema display.

Marcus Lillington:
I thought you’re going to buy me one.

Paul Boag:
Well I couldn’t could I, because the Apple store was down at the time.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes?

Paul Boag:
What was I supposed to do? You’re not expecting me to remember and do it later?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, you said you’d do it when you got back from Charlotte.

Paul Boag:
I’ve only literally just got back, what do you want from me?

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. So well just tell me when the delivery date is?

Paul Boag:
You really want me to do this, don’t you?

Marcus Lillington:
No, I’m fine with what I’ve got.

Paul Boag:
So what was I going to say? Oh yeah and I had a really good chat with Mark Boulton.

Marcus Lillington:
Millionaire, Mark Boulton.

Paul Boag:
Millionaire, Mark Boulton, this is how he likes to be referred to now. So in case you don’t know, Mark Boulton is a web designer in the U.K. And he ran an agency called Mark Boulton Design. And there were a few of them there, I can’t remember exactly how many. They’ve always done some brilliant work and very, very well respected agency. But he sold up to …

Marcus Lillington:
Monotype.

Paul Boag:
… Monotype, that’s the guys yes. I knew it was a font thing. And yes, there was this big thing about how much money he got from doing it and stuff like that. So we like to tease him about it. But it was actually really interesting to talk to him about the whole process of what’s involved in selling your company. And it’s horribly painful and why anyone would want to do it, it’s beyond it, but there you go. No, it was an interesting process from him and he learnt a lot from it. But he is very – he is very happy, sitting on his big piles of cash.

Marcus Lillington:
I bet he is.

Paul Boag:
So we had a big laugh with him. Well, when I say with him, I mean more at his expense. So yes, it was a really good conference, learned a lot. It was the first time in ages that I felt like when you first go to conferences, do you know what I mean? When you come away with your mind buzzing with loads of cool things and you’ve met loads of cool people and yes, it was a real kind of real good conference experience. And it kind of made me want to run around, recommending to everybody they attend a conference. If they’ve never done a conference before, you should go do it. It’s such a cool experience, where maybe I’ve become a bit jaded before by going to too many of them.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I love them usually. I have had certainly as I mentioned many, many times on the show, certain people like Jim Coudal and Brendan Dawes, talk at South by Southwest way back in 2007 or ’08 or something like that. It was highly inspirational. I’ve seen other things that I’ve waxed lyrical about. But I’ve only been to one conference this year and I didn’t rate it at all, which is a shame.

Paul Boag:
No it all depends. It depends on what – which ones you go to. It does make a difference. Catherine, does it mean nothing? So my wife right, I bought myself a new busy and oh – I’ve got a busy and free sign on my door now.

Marcus Lillington:
I think that’s hilarious though. You should have a red light, Paul, like a recording studio.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I know. But I’ve left, I’ve forgot to move the sign to say busy. So she has just walked in and I was all ready to tell her off for ignoring the sign and in actual fact the sign says free. I’m sorry, Catherine.

Catherine Boag
That’s okay.

Paul Boag:
She is now patronizing me. There we go. Honestly, I know how cool is that? I’ve got a little silver sign and it’s one of those slide back and forth things.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I’m not impressed.

Paul Boag:
No? Should we talk about what we’re going to do on the show?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, because you lied. Didn’t you, Paul?

Paul Boag:
Well, I merely – no, it wasn’t so much a lie, as a sign of old age.

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
Well, because I said last week we’re going to do the top 10 bits of software. Having totally forgotten that we had an entire Season, Season 4, link in the show notes, based on exactly this. So we’ve kind of done it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So it seemed very little point in doing it again.

Marcus Lillington:
Although when do we do Season 4? That was like 100 years ago, wasn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Well, we’re on Season 10 now.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So you do – what do we do? Three seasons a year. So what’s that? That’s three flipping heck! That’s three years ago.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, exactly. So there might be some…

Paul Boag:
No it’s not, that’s two years ago.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, two years Paul. Three plus three is six minus 10 is four.

Paul Boag:
Look, I’ve got jet lag. What was your excuse?

Marcus Lillington:
I was just agreeing with you, Paul, just to make you feel good.

Paul Boag:
You just weren’t paying attention.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. You’re absolutely right. We would’ve just been repeating ourselves and we never do that on this show.

Paul Boag:
So instead I’m just going to ignore that very obvious whatever it was. So instead we’re going to do the 10 reasons you should be more obsessed with your users than ever before.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
That’s going to be our topic today. So are we ready to kick off or is there any other inane banter that you want to make everybody endure?

Marcus Lillington:
I can’t think of anything.

Paul Boag:
That’s good. Well we’ve been talking for 11 minutes.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I’ve been sort of – nothing has really happened. But that’s not a bad thing. That’s not true. I do have a story.

Paul Boag:
Oh gah.

Marcus Lillington:
I went on Monday to Belfast.

Paul Boag:
Oh yes? Did you have a good day?

Marcus Lillington:
Last minute – Belfast was lovely, the people I met were lovely. The presentation itself was fine, absolutely fine. But on Sunday about five o’clock I popped down the pub for a couple of pints, nothing major, and I came back, I had some food, thought oh I’ve got to be up before six.

Paul Boag:
Is this still in Belfast or back home?

Marcus Lillington:
No, I’m home. Sunday night, okay. I’m catching an early flight, not that early, nine o’clock flight out of Southampton. Anyway, so but I’ve thought well I’ve got to get down there, give myself time to check in, blah, blah, blah, all that kind of thing so early night, half past nine went to bed, feeling tired, nodded off of sleep. Woke up at half past 10 thinking oh dear, my stomach is turning upside down, upside down, and basically – I won’t go into any details, but …

Paul Boag:
No, see – now, stop. You didn’t need to tell this story.

Marcus Lillington:
I did!

Paul Boag:
Why on earth would anyone be interested in hearing about….?

Marcus Lillington:
I want sympathy. I basically – I then got back to bed about one o’clock, knackered feeling awful, got up the next morning still not right, but I’ve got to go to Belfast on an aeroplane, which I did. And then my plane was delayed on the way home, oh feeling bad. So sympathy, that’s what I’m just after a sympathy vote. That’s it.

Paul Boag:
Okay. So let’s kick off then with today’s podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
Paul, give me sympathy.

Paul Boag:
No, I’m not giving you sympathy.

Marcus Lillington:
Come on. I did that for the team.

Paul Boag:
Oh yes, and I’ve been sitting around on my ass recently. I haven’t been going to conference after conference.

Marcus Lillington:
You’ve been – yes, you’ve been going to conferences.

Paul Boag:
Not just conferences. I’ve got to go to blooming Hull next week.

Marcus Lillington:
Blooming Hull?

Paul Boag:
Where is Hull, it’s really funny. I find it fascinating, every time I type Hull in on my iPhone it autocorrects it to hell. I just – I think that sums it all up.

Marcus Lillington:
Hull is halfway up the Eastern coast of Britain.

Paul Boag:
It’s nearly six hours away for me. That’s how far.

Marcus Lillington:
I highly, highly recommend you take a first class train.

Paul Boag:
No, I’ve got to drive it.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
Because I’m then going straight across to Sheffield.

Marcus Lillington:
I thought you were going to say to Chicago.

Paul Boag:
No, not Sheffield, I didn’t even mean Sheffield. Shrop – Shrops – Oh for crying out loud, can we just start this podcast already?

Marcus Lillington:
Shrewsbury is what you’re trying to say, isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Yes, thank you.

Marcus Lillington:
Anyway, I don’t care about you Paul. I was having a – I was telling my little story.

Paul Boag:
Nobody cares. Nobody cares about either of us.

Marcus Lillington:
No, they don’t.

Paul Boag:
Nobody even listens to the show anymore.

Marcus Lillington:
We lost one listener.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Alright. Let’s kick off then.

The competition is more accessible

Alright. So we’re looking at the top 10 reasons you should be more obsessed about your users than ever before. So what I wanted to do with this podcast is I know a lot of people either have clients or bosses that go oh yes we’re customer-centric, because that’s the thing you say. But actually just pay lip service to it. So what I wanted to do is give people the most convincing arguments I can come up with that paying lip service is not enough. And that actually, we need to take all kinds of steps to become more customer-centric as an institution, whether that be to actually pay for usability testing which let’s face it a lot of clients are unwilling to do or whether it means restructuring the business slightly or whether it means spending more design – money on user interface design whatever. Whatever you need to get your clients or managers to do in your situation, hopefully these arguments will help. That’s the plan anyway.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
So we kick off with number one, which is that the competition is more accessible than ever before. A lot of companies I think survived for a very long time on there being limited competition, either geographically or in people’s awarenesses or whatever else. And so they could get away with maybe not providing the best customer service in the world, because you didn’t have a lot of choice. While we now live in a world obviously where not only is the competition a click away as we like to say, because of Google etcetera, but also I think if you have a little bit of a moan about competition say Twitter or Facebook, it’s inevitable that one of your wide circle of contacts that we all seem to have these days on social networks will turnaround and say oh, have you tried so and so, I use them and they were really good. So you kind of don’t need to put the effort in you used to. Do you remember back in the day where you would do things like buy the Which magazine, wouldn’t you, to find out what the best washing machine was or whatever. Well now you can just do a Google and you will get the results back and you will get all these different reviews and all of those kinds of stuff. So when it’s so easy for someone to kind of switch to your competitors, it’s really important you look after them and you kind of put them first and provide an outstanding customer service. Fair comment?

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely. I mean there are very few monopolies around. It reminds me of the wonderful South Park episode when they’re trying to ring up to change their satellite provider.

Paul Boag:
Right. I didn’t see that one.

Marcus Lillington:
Just check it out. Because basically that – there aren’t really many competitors in that arena and so therefore they do kind of charge what they like.

Paul Boag:
Yes, do what they want.

Marcus Lillington:
They do what they like and that’s kind of true even in the U.K even though. Well there aren’t. If I want satellite TV, I’ve got one choice where I live. I might – you might have two in a city, but that’s it. So they do basically charge what they like. So that’s an illustration of how it used to be, I guess, but yes in the main.

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
Although there is one thing though.

Paul Boag:
What’s that?

Marcus Lillington:
I think a lot of – if I want to buy something, I generally just go to Amazon and just see how much it is on Amazon, and if it seems reasonable I’ll buy it.

Paul Boag:
I must admit I do as well. So they’ve almost got a monopoly.

Marcus Lillington:
So they have a monopoly. But it’s not that you can’t buy these things elsewhere, it’s just they kind of – I guess they’ve done it through good customer service.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
So yes, you’re right Paul.

Paul Boag:
Of course I am right. I am always right, Marcus. But I do like you trying to argue against me and then going around in a full circle and ending up agreeing with me. That’s cool. I like that. You can do that again.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
Shall we do number two?

Consumers now have a voice to complain

So this is kind of I think probably almost the biggest in the list and I’m going to change my mind as I go down. I’m going to say everyone is really important aren’t I? Because that’s what I always do.

Marcus Lillington:
Like you usually do, yes.

Paul Boag:
But I like this one, which is consumers have a greater voice to complain. So, you remember we were moaning about our BA flight where I tweeted about how unhappy I was, with what happened.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Well I went on and wrote a blog post on that. So I will put a link in the show notes to that, about kind of that experience and what that teaches us about customer service, but as part of that. I did a little bit of research. I know, shocking me actually doing research, but I did and I found a really interesting story that I think kind of sums up beautifully where – where things are going, which is a story of a guy who – his father had flown with British Airways and had lost his luggage. British Airways had lost their luggage and British Airways handled it really badly, they handled the customer experience really badly, so what this guy did is he took out a twitter ad right, because they’re not that expensive, so that basically any time as somebody mentioned British Airways, they would get this ad that says don’t fly with British Airways, their customer service sucks.

Marcus Lillington:
They lose your luggage.

Paul Boag:
Yes and of course this quickly got picked up by Mashable and The Verge and all of these other kind of tech things and then it got in turn picked up by mainstream media. And I think that’s a great example about how we now have a much bigger voice to complain about. I mean the days were, if you were really unhappy with something. You’d maybe moan to a few friends down the pub about how unhappy you were with your experience, well now you put it up on social media. And you might have been talking to a handful of people in the pub. But when you post it on Facebook, I don’t know how many people you follow Marcus on Facebook or are friends with, but it’s probably considerably more than a handful. So the result is that suddenly every little complaint that we have is kind of increased exponentially by this kind of network of people that we’ve got. And if it’s a complaint that resonates with people, then it gets retweeted and reshared and goes even further. So the other classic example of that is Dell Hell where one guy blogs on his bad customer service with Dell, but because a lot of other people were feeling the same way that then got kind of emphasized and again hit the mainstream media and it arguably actually affected Dell’s stock price. So this kind of new voice that consumers have got means that we need to be providing ever better customer service and be ever more user-centric in our approach. So I think that’s a really compelling one.

Customers have higher expectations

Okay, number three which is customers have a higher expectation than ever before. So even you Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
What do you mean?

Paul Boag:
Well, I don’t know. I was implying something there, I’m not quite sure what. So this is the thing right. So let’s …

Marcus Lillington:
I certainly have a higher expectation of that my complaining will get me somewhere.

Paul Boag:
Oh, that’s interesting.

Marcus Lillington:
I expect to get a positive result these days, if I complain. I don’t expect to be pushed back and go well tough kind of thing at all. I expect to be treated well. So therefore if I’m not, then it’s like well you’re dumped then whoever you are.

Paul Boag:
So why do you think that is?

Marcus Lillington:
Because I guess of successes. I mean the British Airways example is a brilliant one. Fantastic example of instant – well virtually instant feedback and terribly sorry, here’s a lovely thing.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Yes, I guess it’s seeing those good customer experiences, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So, I mean, that kind of – it works on two levels. It works on that I’ve complained level and I’ve become used to getting a good response from that, which is what you’re talking about. What I was thinking about is that we have higher expectations of customer service in the first place. So for example going back to the Amazon example, I’ve come to kind of expect next day delivery, because I’ve got prime. I know I paid for prime, but that’s kind of set a level of expectation for me in terms of Amazon. And also I expect Amazon’s ease of return – returning stuff as well, because they make it easy. So I kind of expect everybody else to do the same. And so it goes on, doesn’t it? All the time companies are outperforming one another. I don’t like queuing in a store anymore because I’ve got so used to Apple stores where there is always someone knocking around that I can just grab and ask a question of or whatever. So that’s kind of increased my expectations as well, but there is also an element in this of software as well. So the example I always use with higher education institutions we work with, is that students don’t understand why they essentially get really high quality software from people like Google for free, when they pay their university ₤9,000 in the U.K. of fees every year, and they get vastly inferior products. So there’s kind of expectations in terms of products as well. So there you go.

Marcus Lillington:
True. Sorry, I’m looking for jokes, I was away.

Paul Boag:
I knew you were, because you’d gone suspiciously quiet, which is always a sign that you are busy.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m busy. Very busy, yes.

Paul Boag:
I’m sorry I disturbed you with this podcast. So I mean an example of frustration that I had recently and it very, very nearly changed my behavior, but in the end money won over with me was I went to order my iPhone 6 plus which I’ve done by the way, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
See how can you order one without knowing what it feels and looks like?

Paul Boag:
Because I buy whatever Apple tell me.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, but you had a choice?

Paul Boag:
No, I …

Marcus Lillington:
You had to get the most expensive one?

Paul Boag:
No, I didn’t have to get the most expensive one.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, you did.

Paul Boag:
No, because I only got the 64 gigabyte rather than the 128 gigabyte.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, but you’ll regret that. You’re already regretting that.

Paul Boag:
I am already regretting it. But the number just seemed so high on the most expensive one I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just had Chris sitting on my shoulder going oh no mustn’t do that. Not that he sounds like that. No, the – do you want the truth, Marcus, as to why I know that I can buy the 6 plus rather than the 6? Do you want to know?

Marcus Lillington:
I want to know. I’ve got a funny feeling that I might though …

Paul Boag:
Go on.

Marcus Lillington:
… you’ve made one, haven’t you?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, out of cardboard.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I’ve made one and kept it in my pocket for a little bit. See what it felt like.

Marcus Lillington:
What does it feel like now to admit that?

Paul Boag:
Shameful. I’m really sorry. I’m a bad human being. I feel like – oh, dear. I can’t go on now. That’s it. Anyway, no so the point was there I obviously I had to ring EE in order to order it, because their website confuses the crap out of me. I feel – it really feels like you’re opening a new account, right? So I would end up with two mobile accounts, is what it feels like. Apparently it’s not that, but they’ve got something seriously wrong with their site, so that was a bad experience to begin with. But secondly I was just sitting on hold for ever and ever and ever and ever and I got to the point at one stage of going, do you know what? I think I might just go and buy it unlocked from the Apple website, because I knew I’d get a seamless and nice customer experience. Unfortunately Chris who was sitting on my shoulder at the time stopped me from doing that, because that would have been a much more expensive way of buying it. But well it isn’t, it’s more expensive over the long-term. But anyway, that’s beside the point. So yes, I didn’t. But that’s an example about how kind of your expectations are higher than ever before.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s true.

Paul Boag:
So let’s move on to number four.

Users behaviour is unpredictable

Okay so number four is I think quite an important one, not as important as the last one, because I’m making that my most important, but I think there’s this assumption that oh yes, we kind of know users. We know what they do. We know how they behave and especially I think clients come to us and go well you’re the usability expert, you’re the user interface expert, surely you know what users do, why do we need to do user testing? But I think what we know as user experience designers is that essentially we don’t understand users, because they’re unpredictable, they do weird shit basically. And so you do need to test and find out. Here is – and you get all kinds of ridiculous examples. We’ve told the classic story before of doing user testing with old people and about how they didn’t know how to use a mouse, they only knew how to use a track pad, great example of it before. There was another story that was told which is even more extreme than that at the conference I’ve just come to where somebody told a story of doing user testing with people that had never kind of really used computers before and the guy picked up the mouse and put it on the screen. And I was …

Marcus Lillington:
Well, in not quite such an extreme version of that. We’ve just put Lee and I and people are putting together a VerifyApp test.

Paul Boag:
Oh yes?

Marcus Lillington:
For testing designs. And the amount of assumptions that we make about what people will understand on the language that we use, every time, I mean Lee did this one and I’m saying Lee, nobody is going to know what that means. Really? He’s saying, but if I do them I do the same thing. Yes, of course we understand usability, but I think we do make a lot of assumptions about what people – where people’s understanding of using stuff is.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely. I mean, another great one that someone told me, again I think it was at this conference was that somebody send out a brief, this was a client now that had it written in the brief that he wanted the homepages to be covered with buttons. And unsurprisingly, he got a lot of pushback over that and he didn’t understand why, so he went to a friend who was a design usability expert and said why am I getting a lot of pushback over this brief? And she said, because you’re saying the homepage ought to be covered with buttons and he said well yes, because my current site is really static. And she said, yes but why does that lead to having and in his mind – in his mind the opposite of static was buttons.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
And that was his …

Marcus Lillington:
Well, that’s obvious Paul. Come on.

Paul Boag:
Yes and that was his mental model. Oh it was Abby. That’s why the mental model thing, made me think of it. So it was Abby that said this and it was like he meant dynamic, he wanted the website to be really dynamic, but in his mind it was something different to that. It was this word buttons. Now that’s a very extreme and bizarre example of it. But I think there are all kinds of different ways, especially anyway, so basically users are unpredictable and that we need to always test, therefore, to find out how they will really respond to the things that – the assumptions that we make. So let’s do number five, because this is kind of related to that.

Mobile has changed user behaviour

So number five is about how user behavior has changed. So that’s another thing is that I think a lot of us may have known and understood how our users behaved at one point. We may have understood how they think, but I really believe that the way that they’re behaving is changing and I think a large reason why it’s changing is because of mobile. That I think mobile and the arrival of mobile is changing the way people interact, the way that they buy, their expectations, all kinds of things. So a great example of this is that I don’t know whether you do this Marcus, but increasingly I am seeing people do it. If you look around, if you go into say, I don’t know, a PC World or some shop, a High Street Shop. If you look around, you will see every now and again somebody get out their mobilephone and scan the barcode of the thing on the shelf to see whether it’s cheaper online. So that’s an example about how mobile has changed people’s behavior. But it’s also obviously it’s changed people’s behavior in the fact that they have got these expectations of things being much more instant because they’ve always got their mobile phone on them. Obviously navigating and using websites is different because of mobile, but also I think people start to think so they expect to be able to swipe elements, which they wouldn’t have done before. And all kinds of little nuances in user behavior has changed because of mobile. But mobile is just one example about it. The point here is that user behavior is continually evolving over time and that you can’t kind of just sit back and say oh well, we created personas five years ago and did some usability testing then. So can’t we just use the results from that kind of thing.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. I think people – I think it’s a bit more fundamental than that and I think people expect good design now.

Paul Boag:
Oh, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Just because of the likes of Apple and many others, I mean Amazon is another good example. I mean whether it is particularly good design, but people kind of understand it’s quite clear, it’s – the steps are nice and easy to understand and you don’t have to do a shopping basket experience the same as Amazon and if you don’t then I think people think well this is not good usability, which maybe is a little unfair. But yes, I think people expect a good experience now. I think they expect things to be simple to use.

Paul Boag:
Yes, which is my third point I made earlier.

Marcus Lillington:
What was that?

Paul Boag:
Customers have higher expectations. So that’s really good, take that whole bit you just said and paste it into number three …

Marcus Lillington:
Obviously, you didn’t explain that very well or I wasn’t listening.

Paul Boag:
I think you were probably looking at jokes. Alright. So that is number five, mobile has changed user behavior and user behavior is always changing and we need to stay on top of that.

Customers rely on peer to peer recommendation

I will tell you another thing people have started doing with their mobile phones that I find interesting in shops. Especially I think this started with clothes shopping, especially amongst women, but I think it’s now broadened out. Have you ever – I don’t know whether your wife has done it, mine hasn’t. But I know of others that when Leah used to live with us. She used to do this. Which she’d go into a shop, she’d try on an outfit, photograph it and then post it to social media and ask her friends whether she thought it was a – they thought it was a good thing to buy.

Marcus Lillington:
No, she doesn’t do that. Although, what I have witnessed her doing – I don’t think she has ever done this, but her friends will show her stuff that’s online on their phone when they are together. Oh this dress or that, those shoes or whatever. So yes, that does happen.

Paul Boag:
And I think that’s a growing thing that more and more people are doing, not just with clothes, but with any decision really, because one of the things that we want – that I think we as human beings want is we want peer approval and we want support, especially with a difficult position. So for example, you know how clients always like to show design around to all and sundry before they sign it off. And it’s because they’re unsure about the decision and so they want to be backed up by other people.

Marcus Lillington:
People will laugh at them. You did what?

Paul Boag:
Yes, exactly. So you kind of get that kind of support and recommendations relating to purchases. So I think customers are, which is my sixth point is customers are relying more heavily on peer to peer recommendations. And I think social media is enabling that, but I – as you say, I don’t think it’s just limited to social media. I think people are just kind of showing stuff. Oh, look I took this photograph or here is this product I have seen online, what do you think about it? And so that means that we need to pay much more attention to the kind of user experience to enable that kind of thing and to ensure that, that is a good experience when sharing.

Marcus Lillington:
When I was bored in Belfast City Airport on Monday, I was trying on sunglasses and sending photographs of them to Caroline in the vain hope that she would say buy that pair, but of course she didn’t.

Paul Boag:
No, I try that with cameras. Although Cath did say yes once, that was in an airport which was a shocker. Still haven’t got over that, anyway. So that’s …

Marcus Lillington:
But you want another one now, don’t you? As we mentioned last time.

Paul Boag:
Yes, actually I’m feeling a bit better about it, because it looks like the camera on the iPhone 6 is going to be much improved. But I mean that’s …

Marcus Lillington:
Still not a proper camera, though is it?

Paul Boag:
No, its not. It’s only – it’s really the zoom function – I mean I’ve got a proper proper camera which I’m quite happy with, but I want a kind of in between one, one that can go in your pocket, but has got an optical zoom.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. Like my Fujifilm one.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it’s a nice thing to have. And I’ve got a proper proper camera, but if you take pictures with the proper one then you go – that’s what I really want. But I can’t be bothered to carry around a whole bag full of lenses and all that kind of thing.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that’s true. Okay. Let’s move on to number seven.

Outstanding customer service generates repeat business

Okay, so number seven is a really simple one and it’s one that everybody should grasp very quickly which is that outstanding customer service generates repeat business.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I think this is the most important point on the list.

Paul Boag:
Do you really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
There we go.

Marcus Lillington:
I think this is the difference, if you like; this is what’s changed in – or how digital has changed stuff in the last however many years. There is a lot of stories at the moment. I think there’s a company called CD Baby who basically if you’re a band or an artist or whatever and you want to get your music printed and – printed out as CDs with booklets and that kind of thing. They provide the service to do that. And basically they’ve done super brilliant and their entire business model, the owner; he puts down to the fact that they have just fallen over themselves on customer service. And it’s just been word of mouth, word of mouth, these guys are brilliant, these guys are brilliant. And it has just snowballed, and they’re the ones.

Paul Boag:
It’s a bit like the classic story of Zappos isn’t it? That’s another company that is built around customer service and they sell shoes for crying out loud. Do you know what I mean?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
I remember back in the day where people were saying, oh, you’ll never be able to sell shoes online because you want to try them on and all the rest of it. But Zappos have just made it so easy, so easy to return stuff, etcetera that why not? And of course, you were just saying earlier weren’t you, as well about Amazon and about how you go – you always go to Amazon it’s just easy, it’s – you get a good service, it’s reliable. They deliver quickly, their return policy is great, so you go with them. So yes, absolutely. Good customer service generates repeat business. I’ll tell you the thing, one of the main reasons I – in fact I buy from Amazon in a customer service regard is because they often use a delivery company, not always which is a bit frustrating, but they often use a delivery company in my area called DPD.

Marcus Lillington:
DPD, yes. Where oh you’re Steve, and you can find out who your driver is and you can get the delivery down to 15 minutes or whatever it is.

Paul Boag:
Well it’s down to an hour. They give you an hour window, but you can easily text them and say can you deliver it to my next door neighbour or can you bring it tomorrow instead and it’s so flexible and so easy. You don’t have to take a – I mean it’s easy for us because we work from home quite a lot of the time, but some people have to take an entire day off of work, so that they can be in for a delivery, which is ridiculous isn’t it really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, and it makes you wonder why therefore other places, oh we can’t give you a slot between 8 AM and 5 PM. You can’t even do morning or afternoon.

Paul Boag:
Yes, which goes back to this raising higher expectations.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. So you can’t even tell me morning or afternoon, whereas the DPD thing does go down to 15 minutes if you’re within the hour.

Paul Boag:
Oh yes. Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
So, they can – they will give you an hour slot and then you can even think oh well yes, I can – I don’t know, go down to the end of the garden and do that thing I was going to do because he’s not going to be here for another half an hour.

Paul Boag:
Yes. And you could actually look up online and see their GPS position, which is just awesome.

Marcus Lillington:
So if you’re not doing that or at least something close to that then, yes, you’re going to – you’re likely to lose custom.

Paul Boag:
So this is again good – higher expectations. But it is the thing of generating repeat business. People come back to you time and time again, if you do a good job. And that’s always been true to some degree, even before digital obviously that was a factor, but I think it has become a bigger factor now because the competition are easily accessible, because you’re told about alternatives. And what you were saying about CD Baby isn’t just that it’s generated repeat business for them, but it’s also word-of-mouth recommendation it’s led to more business for them as well.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
So it’s interesting. This is some – providing outstanding customer service to generate repeat business is something that I’m looking at the moment for Headscape. I’m trying to …

Marcus Lillington:
We don’t have to do that, do we?

Paul Boag:
What’s that?

Marcus Lillington:
We don’t have to do outstanding customer service.

Paul Boag:
No, just keep churning them out, I say, move on to the next client. Plenty more fish in the sea. It’s not that we’ve been working with some clients for years and years and years or anything. No, but I’m always looking for ways to improve that, which is why at the moment I am creating us a customer journey map, I showed the beginning of it, didn’t I?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, yes.

Paul Boag:
And the idea is, I’m going to map out the whole customer journey and all the different points where a customer interacts with us through their lifestyle. Lifestyle? Life time oh whatever.

Marcus Lillington:
Lifecycle.

Paul Boag:
Lifecycle, that’s the word. And I’m going to look for just little places along each of those kind of touch points where we could just do something little that’s nice. Just some little thing that shows we give a monkeys. I don’t know what are those are going to be yet, because I haven’t got that far. But that’s the aim and the – and it’s to generate repeat business. It’s like going into a restaurant isn’t it? Where they do nice little things that make you feel welcome there and when you go back next time they remember what drink you liked or whatever. So like Sarah Parmenter, who has opened – we talked about her, didn’t we? A couple of weeks ago, who has opened this Blushbar, one of the things that they do there is they have a system whereby when you first come to the Blushbar and you order your tea and coffee, they mark down what it was that you ordered, so next time you come back in, you can say oh is that a milk with two sugars again. Just so that, it’s those kinds of little customer service element and that makes people feel loved and appreciated and that’s what keeps them coming back for more. And it’s the same – the same is true with our clients, our clients stick with us because we actually show we care about them and that we do and not even just – not contrived stuff necessarily, but we just get to like these people and we help them out and we go the extra mile and we build up a friendship rather than just seeing them as a cash cow. So yes, outstanding customer service generates repeat business.

Gathering data on user behaviour is cheaper and faster

Next up, number eight, is gathering data on user behavior is cheaper and faster than ever before. There is no excuse anymore. So you’ve got Google analytics that gives you amazing data on users and how what they’re doing and what they want and you can look at what search terms people have put into the websites, so you can see what they’re after a what Google terms that they searched and you can look at where they go on the site and all of that kind of – all of that is free. Then even usability testing these days is so, so cheap. You can use a service like usertesting.com, which you know is costing like $35 per user or something like that. Getting people in and testing people yourself is massive cheap. You’re talking about a 20 quid Amazon voucher to kind of thank them for their time and that’s about it. So there is no excuse, not to kind of look at users and pay attention to them. I haven’t got anything else to say on that one really.

Marcus Lillington:
No, that’s more – it was more of a statement.

Paul Boag:
It was more of a telling off.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Do it. Okay, so let’s look at number nine.

Adapting and iterating digital is cheap

So not only it is really cheap to do user testing, it’s also cheap to change. So let’s take a kind of pre-Internet days. Let us say, you were doing an advertising campaign. You have to get that ad campaign right the first time, okay. Because if you get it wrong, then you’ve printed – I don’t know three quarters of a million billboard ads or whatever. Whatever thing it is doing and that has a big expense attached to it. With digital, you can build something, put it out there, monitor what users do and then iterate based on that, that feedback. And actually that iteration is quite cheap and easy to do. It doesn’t need to be complicated. You could do AB testing on – I don’t know different wording on your home page for example and then quickly and easily change it. So it’s not like you can’t act on the feedback you’ve got it’s not a case of going well, we’ve got a website now and it would be really expensive to change it based on what we learn about users so really there is not any point of doing any user testing. That’s just bullshit, because the truth is, it’s really cheap and easy to change stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s not cheap and easy to change everything is it?

Paul Boag:
No, no, no. No, I’m not talking about a rebuild of the site, no that wouldn’t be cheap and easy. But even that compared to something like, if you go back to say print work, print work is quite expensive by the time you take into account the designer costs and then getting the print run done and all of that kind of stuff. That does get reasonably expensive and to change all of that, it’s much more expensive than it is to change stuff online, even bigger changes. Yes, obviously a site redesign is going to be more expensive than changing a few bits of text. But it’s amazing how much you can do. It’s like one of our clients at the moment, our client out in Chicago that we’ve got, they will need to do a major redesign on their site, but actually you could do quite a lot just short-term little things on their website to make it better. For example, one of the things that’s terrible on their site is the legibility. And that’s simply because the typeface is too small and it’s a serif typeface. Now to change that universally across the site is just a CSS update, so that actually could be quite cheap and easy to do, and yet have a profound impact on the user experience.

Marcus Lillington:
True. True.

Paul Boag:
So adapting and iterating digital is cheap. And there is no excuse for not doing it. Right, that brings us onto our final point.

It has been proven to work

Our final point then, Marcus, is that it’s proven to work, which goes back to really what you were saying about CD Babies. I was going to say Cbeebies.

Marcus Lillington:
The Cbeebies.

Paul Boag:
Which is a children’s TV channel in Britain.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Very good. Well, it’s not actually. It used to drive me crazy, but on the other hand it did shut my child up.

Marcus Lillington:
It didn’t exist when my children were little. There you go.

Paul Boag:
That’s because you’re so old. Or, you had children really young one or the other.

Marcus Lillington:
Bit of both.

Paul Boag:
Bit of both, yes. Yes, so the last point, is it works. All this stuff, providing an outstanding customer service works. It will generate more business. It will improve customer satisfaction, it will generate repeat business. And CD Babies is an example of that as is Zappos, as is Amazon, all of these companies and even companies that were really struggling, Dell are a great example of that. Dell had a horrendous reputation in customer service and it was impacting their bottom line and they have addressed that and do you know what? They’re more profitable than they were. So outstanding customer service, being user-centric just works. It’s proven to work, it makes a difference. And ultimately it can be a cost-saving as well. I mean you look at gov.uk and what they’ve done. By providing an outstanding customer service online, they’ve reduced the number of calls they get to their call center by about a third, I believe. I might be wrong in that, but that’s the figure that for some reason is knocking around in my head. And when every call was costing them I think something like ₤6 per call, suddenly things are a lot cheaper. So it not only generates more business, it saves you money, and it’s just the right thing to do.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely, couldn’t agree more.

Paul Boag:
So there you go, that is our ten reasons for being more obsessed about your users and looking after them. That is all I wanted to cover this week. Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I’ve gone back to the 10 best jokes from the Edinburgh Festival. This is one – this was number two actually …

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
… from a guy called Masai Graham. I’ve written a joke about a fat badger, but I couldn’t fit it into my set.

Paul Boag:
That was – that’s like cracker joke kind of stuff, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
That’s my favorite type of joke.

Paul Boag:
And yet it’s considered the second best joke in the Edinburgh Fringe.

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe his delivery was – I don’t think there is any maybe about it, I expect his delivery was somewhat better than mine.

Paul Boag:
Could well have been. We need to see if we can find a video online of that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
That’s what we – that ought to be our new thing right, that you ought to deliver it and then we should find the audio of a proper comedian delivering it and play that.

Marcus Lillington:
That would a good idea but that means more work for me, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Your level of commitment is disturbing. But there you go, that’s this week’s show. So next week we will return with yet another. I’m seeing someone behind your back this week, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
What?

Paul Boag:
I’m going on another podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
What?

Paul Boag:
I’m going on Unfinished Business with Andy Clarke.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, I’ve done that one.

Paul Boag:
Oh, he’s seen you too, actually I knew that. So I’m doing that, which is cool. And also I’m going on a podcast called The Web Ahead, which is with Jen, who I met when I was in – at the Blend Conference, in Chicago – not Chicago …

Marcus Lillington:
In Charlotte.

Paul Boag:
Charlotte.

Marcus Lillington:
You’re very properly jet lagged now, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I’m seriously jetlagged. I’ve got to do a big presentation this afternoon, Marcus. That’s going to be fun.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, in two hours time.

Paul Boag:
Oh, don’t tell me that. That’s really depressing. Yes, I will be fine.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes then you can collapse afterwards.

Paul Boag:
Some Red Bull will be in order. So yes, there we go, so we’ve got some podcasting going on, but join us next week for a new show. I was going to say something exciting but I can’t think of anything. So there we go, talk to you again next week.

Marcus Lillington:
Bye.

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