Examining the Customer User Experience

Examining the Customer User Experience

You know how sometimes you get a bee in your bonnet? I’ve been cursing this one for the last three years.

Every year at this time, the kids have their school photos taken. Lifetouch has been the supplier selected by our school to fulfil this service. As per usual, the info package gets sent home the week prior with all the background options, photo packages and pricing. You have the option to submit a traditional paper order form or to pre-pay your order online prior to the photo-day. Maybe in grade school when I had a bit more influence over what the kids wore I could have selected the background ahead of time, but for teenage boys? Ha – good luck trying to nail down what they are going to wear. Anyway, that is not my real beef.

Last year, I decided to proceed with the online order, blindly, not knowing what the actual picture looks like. It is at this point where my frustration starts to set in. I had nothing but problems with the online interface.

The navigation was far from intuitive, it timed out, would not allow me to order both kids on the same transaction and then offered discounts for which there was no accommodation to apply the discount. Oh my (actually, I had other choice words)! Talk about a bad user experience!

It is obvious the design and methodology of the interface was purely production-oriented and not designed for the person ordering the photos. Only after several calls to the toll free number did my order finally get sorted out.

And it doesn’t end there. When the photo proofs were provided online, it’s obvious the photographer didn’t take two seconds to review the capture before moving onto the next student. Hello, isn’t that one of the beauties of digital photography? Get the picture right the first time, then there is no need for retakes. When it comes to the inevitable retakes, the website “claims” they will retake the photos free of charge but then it proceeds to charge $5 sitting fee per person (I think somebody was pocketing that money!). As an additional service, you can select from basic or premium retouching for a fee. OMG, the quality control department must have been on a break. Half of my sons face had whiskers and the other side, whisker free. It is no wonder the Custom Service department couldn’t keep up with the calls.

So instead of just burning under the collar, I decided to personally reach out to Lifetouch at the Sales Rep level. Companies are always asking for feedback on how they can improve. I emailed and got a thank you but never did actually speak to a representative.

I will admit that on its own each one of these incidents is minor but collectively, you have to wonder who is driving the full customer experience? Is it a case of a legacy company moving to an online solution but still thinking traditionally? Is it a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? Is it a case of production department driving the sales department?

At Deschenes Regnier, whether we are writing for a brochure, strategizing a navigation plan for a website, or coordinating a site photo shoot, we are always mindful of the bigger picture of what these pieces are used for. While we may not always be involved in all stages of a project, working with macro information is always best in communications.