links for 09 December 2006 – Seeking WordPress plugin for audio player

Smart email: If I stop buying, ask me why!

Ocardo Box

Two clever companies noticed I was doing something that was not making them money recently and emailed me to let me know they’d noticed. And then they tried selling me more stuff. As though I must have just got bored or forgot what I was doing when I was supposed to be spending money. As though it couldn’t have been a problem with their product or their processes.

Neither of them ever asked me why I stopped buying. Although I was eager to tell them both.

The first example was Three which I discussed in an earlier post and just this morning Ocardo emailed me saying they’d noticed I’ve not been buying their organic boxes lately. You can tell from their email (above) that they assume that I’ve just forgotten about this great service they’re offering and that a reminder and maybe a special offer will trigger my buying behaviour again.

They’re totally wrong of course. I stopped buying their product deliberately because I think it’s a rip off. They send me boring fruit and vegetables, ones that I don’t really use, and they charge a whole lot of money for it. I don’t buy their product because I can get better organic boxes elsewhere.

If I was running Ocardo (or, at least, in charge of sending out this email), I’d definitely be finding a way not just to remind people about my product, but also to initiate a conversation, a dialogue. Don’t assume I’m just a dumb user who forgot or got distracted… ask me.

If you’re smart enough to look for customer intelligence (who’s stopped buying what), then be smart enough to respect a customer’s intelligence. You’ll end up with a much more more clever company… and maybe even an organic box that I’d want to buy from you again.

links for 05 December 2006 – recent reviews of Bill Moggridge’s ‘Designing Interactions’

Have you read the book yet? (Or watched the DVD?!) What do you think?

You’ll never guess what I’m doing tomorrow :) Stay tuned, it’s pretty exciting!

Vodafone UK redesign – clean and simple on the surface, but it ain’t necessarily so.

New Vodafone DesignNew Vodafone Website design

Vodafone were certainly well over due for a redesign of their website, and so I was pleasantly surprised when I went to look up some contact details and found that redesigned they had…. and what a nice change. Compared to previous design (you can see more or less what it was like here), this design is calm and controlled and much less frantic. The old design used to make me feel stressed even before I started trying to negotiate it. My starting point with this new design is much more positive.

How have they achieved this? Dramatically cutting down the complexity and busyness of the old design and taking a much simpler and more cleanly structured approach. The clear division of the personal and business section certainly helps this, but even within the sections, significant work has been done with the information architecture to achieve this apparent simplicity.

But does the new design work better?

The thing that *really* aggravated me on the old website was the web interface for buying new ‘Pay As You Go’ credit, or Topping Up. I could find the functionality very quickly, but ended up caught in an endless cycle of error messages that never resulted in a sale.

So, I tried to perform this task on the new website and I found:

  1. it was much harder to find where I was supposed to go to ‘top up’. Perhaps this is low down on the Vodafone priority list (although I’d be surprised at this… a whole lot of Vodafone customers PAYG customers). The information scent around this functionality is much weaker than on the previous website. I assume, although I’m not entirely certain, that I would find it somewhere in the ‘Manage Your Account Online‘ section…. I tried this after I tried Shop and My Vodafone without success.
  2. it looks to me as though this design just re-skins the horrid software that I’ve battled with in the past to ‘top up’ my PAYG account (it certainly has the same look about it). I gave up when I struggled with the log in. Given that there is virtually no information provided as to what exactly I can ‘manage’ in this section, there is little incentive go through the registration process and maintain patience with the system.

So, from this quick evaluation, it seems to me that although the Vodafone redesign is, in some respects, an improvement on the previous site, particularly with regards to visual appeal, there are still plenty of opportunities for Vodafone to deliver a much more impressive customer experience online… perhaps focussing a little less on the flashy animations (yes, they’re still there, just on the lower level pages now), and more on supporting user tasks.

A step in the right direction though. I wonder if this design is now going to be implemented globally?

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