Posts Tagged 'services'

The Characteristics & Principles applied to Service Experiences

Dennis Breen from nForm recently sent me a wonderful email with some great ideas and questions. With his permission here’s our conversation.

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> Hi Richard,
> Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the characteristics of experience.
> I’m wondering how (or if) user effort would fit into your framework. I’ve
> been thinking about some recent experiences, and effort seems to
> have an important impact on my feelings about an interaction. Let me
> illustrate.

Hi Dennis, I think ‘effort’ is applicable across all of the principles
and characteristics – if a user has to exert an inappropriate amount
for the return they see then its a ‘bad’ experience. The examples
below are some great situations, I hadn’t really thought about how the
framework applies to service experiences but here are some initial
thoughts:

> Experience 1: I had a defective rain jacket from a cycle company (it leaked
> badly and the dye bled onto clothing underneath). I contacted them. They
> hummed and hawed. Finally they asked me to send the jacket for analysis. I
> did so. They told me the jacket leaked because it was worn through by
> backpack straps. The jacket was new, and a backpack had never been worn
> with it. They hummed and hawed some more. Finally, after much cajoling,
> they gave me a new jacket and a cheap cycling jersey. I (sort of) got what I
> wanted, but the effort was so great that I vowed never to purchase their
> products again.
I would say here that what you were trying to do was exert some
“control” (controllable is one of the ‘principles’ in the other
diagram). You had an outcome in mind, but unfortunately had to exert
too much effort resulting in a bad experience.
> Experience 2: I rented a car. I had tire trouble (bulging sidewall, not a
> flat) far from the rental location. I visited the nearest rental office.
> They sent me to a tire shop. I waited as they tried to get approval to fix
> it from the original rental office (the local one couldn’t approve it). I
> finally got it done, but I wasted half a day of vacation. I left angry and
> frustrated. When I dropped the car off I told the attendant about the
> experience. He immediately offered to cut the price of the entire rental in
> half. I didn’t have to ask for a reduction – I just told him of the
> incident. He offered to make it right without hesitation. In the final
> interaction I had to give very little effort to get a positive result.

The first part of this experience is similar to the one above – too
much effort to ‘control’ the experience (getting the tire changed),
the last part is interesting – and ties into something I was just
putting together earlier today! I’ve been thinking that ‘relevance’
has four major aspects:

Environment (time, place, events)
Person (knowledge, abilities, demographics)
Situation (goal, task)
Experience (expectations, emotions)

I’ll be writing more about these on the blog, but I think your final
interaction with the car company is an example of exceeding your
relevant ‘expectations’ with very little effort on your part –
resulting in a great experience!

> Experience 3: I recently moved to a new city, where I bought a house. I had
> one trip to find a place, then negotiated from afar. I had to have a house
> inspection, an additional furnace inspection, and some other things done. My
> realtor handled everything for me without being asked. She would just say:
> you need x done. I know someone. I’ll call them for you if you like. She
> anticipated my needs, and I got everything I needed with virtually no
> effort.

So, elements of exceeding expectations again, but an interesting
aspect is the ‘anticipating your needs’ piece – which may well be an
‘adaptive’ experience (if she was changing her interactions with you
based on her ongoing interactions). If she was simply being a good
realtor, however, based on her experience in general then she was
probably being very ‘relevant’ (to your tasks/goals).

> So, in each of these cases I got a positive result. You might say I
> completed my task. But the feeling at the end is different because of the
> effort I had to expend in order to achieve my goal. Of course, there are
> other factors that affected each experience, but it seems that an
> interaction needs to have an appropriate level of effort. Maybe this relates
> to your Adaptive characteristic.

I’m hesitant to add ‘effort’ as a stand-alone since it seems as though
it always has to be paired with one of the other principles or
characteristics, but what do you think?

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