User Reflections and Expectations

During my first semester, one of my instructors was constantly telling us that to be good designers (or usability practitioners, as is my goal), then we need to be constantly reflecting on what we’re doing and learning in school. We had a class blog, and he encouraged us to keep our own blogs for that purpose. And, one of the books we read for class was Thoughtful Interaction Design, which also encouraged being reflective. Another instructor from this semester said the same thing. Hence, that is why I started this blog and named it “HCI Reflections”.

Well, I’ve been thinking that maybe us designers and usability practitioners shouldn’t be the only ones who are reflective and thoughtful. It would benefit users to do the same!

I am getting married in 5 weeks. My fiance and I are trying to finalize our honeymoon plans. I had made flight reservations through Orbitz , and I needed to call their customer service line last night.

At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to the experience (there’s that word again!) I had while I was talking to their CSR. I remember being a little annoyed when she placed me on hold for several minutes, but after she answered my question and we hung up, I continued the vacation planning with my fiance and didn’t give it much more thought.

I later checked my email and had received a message from Orbitz asking me to take a survey about my experience calling their CS line. So, I did. And, as I was doing so, I began to reflect on my experience, and I realized it was a pretty darn good one, and it was exactly as I had expected it to be. Their IVR system was very easy to understand and use and I was immediately routed to a live person who could answer my question. The person was knowledgeable, helpful, courteous, and professional. And, I was satisfied with the answer I had to my question. When the survey asked if I would recommend Orbitz to friends and family, my first thought was, ‘Yeah!’. But, then I realized that if I had never taken the time to fill out the survey, I may not have reflected on and remembered the good experience I had. And, therefore, I may not have ever recommended Orbitz.

So, I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but that survey seemed to have two purposes–it helped them conduct their user research, but it also caused me, the user, to be reflective. And, because I was reflective, I will be a repeat customer.

This also brings out the fact that people tend to remember and focus more on the bad experiences they have. Had I been put on hold for more than a few minutes, or if the IVR system had routed me around and around, or if the CSR couldn’t answer my question, I probably would have lamented over that experience for several minutes or hours after I hung up.

But, because I got what I wanted in the way that I wanted, I almost just brushed that experience aside. Does this mean that as designers or usability practitioners, we have to strive to create and experience that doesn’t just meet the users’ expectations but exceeds them?

I think it does!


One response to this post.

  1. […] made me think of something I blogged about in January (User Reflections and Expectations), where I lamented that people seem to remember the bad experiences more than they do the ones that […]


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