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I’ve been gallivanting around the east coast recently visiting customers. On the plane back home, I ended up having an interesting conversation about user experience with my seat neighbour. They had been arguing with their team lately about the idea of adding product information into their on-hold music. One part of their team wanted to use it as another method to talk to customers about their products and the other thought it would be too disruptive.

 

As luck would have it, the very next day I needed to call a company in order to get a copy of my receipt. For some reason I couldn’t do it online and had to phone and ask that they resend it to me. You know what I was sick to death of by the time someone answered the phone? Being told that I could probably solve my problem online, and did I know that I could login and view my history and wasn’t that great? Except it wasn’t great. It was awful. I’d already tried to self-service and COULDN’T. That was why I was calling in the first place.

 

Beyond my initial frustration, it got me thinking about user experience, and how timing is everything. I was being told something that was incredibly useful, but it was definitely the wrong time. The result being that instead of feeling like the company was trying to save me time by letting me self-service, I got the impression they were annoyed by my interruption. After all, why was I still on the phone after they’d told me 4 times in 4 minutes that I could probably solve my problem online (even though I couldn’t and that’s why I was calling)?

 

That feeling isn’t limited to unhelpful pre-recorded onhold messages. Customers are remarkably adept at detecting whether your intention is to genuinely help them, or actually to help yourself. Consider those alternate products you’re suggesting to customers. Are they true alternatives, or is one of those products displayed because you’re trying to boost its sales?

 

Are the products you have listed on your homepage campaign those that customers are most likely to be looking for, or just the ones you’re trying to shift?

 

Admittedly, it will always be something of a balancing act. Without the sales and product turnover, you can’t help customers. Without the right attitude toward your customers, you won’t get the sales and product turnover. Just consider the context in which each piece of content you provide customers is served (I know, it’s that “personalisation” concept again). Whether you’re B2B, B2C, or both, there’s never going to be any benefit in annoying your users.

 

Agree with me? Think I’m off with the pixies? Have an on-hold music horror story to share? You know where I live!

 

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