09 August 2017

The One Ingredient All Great User Experiences Share

I have to admit that one of my biggest splurges in life is traveling and staying in great hotels. One of the things I love analyzing while staying in these hotels is how they care for their customers (aka users). You see, there’s one ingredient that I think is the base ingredient for any great user experience and while you’ll might find it more at high-end places, it actually has nothing to do with money.

Personally, I love staying at the Eden Roc hotel in the south of France and my wife and I have been fortunate to be able to return on multiple occasions. Their staff is great at honoring this base ingredient helping their users feel at ease. I’ve come across this ingredient at many other places and I’m sure you have too – perhaps in your favorite coffee shop or even on a simple train ride.

I’m not really sure where or when everything started to go in the wrong direction. Why is it increasingly difficult to get a good experience? Could our standards be higher than in the past? We demand great user experiences ALL THE TIME. That free app you’re downloading from the AppStore? It has to have a great user experience! That 99 cent app? It has to be even better! Perhaps we’re just more aware now so we can make sure we’re getting real value from our investments, but we don’t always demonstrate gratitude – just expectations.

So what does Eden Roc, my favorite restaurant and some of my favorite apps have in common? What’s their base ingredient? There’s a mutual respect between hotel staff and hotel guests, between chefs and customers, and between developers/product managers/designers and their users. Every transaction earns that mutual respect and you have to do the work to maintain that relationship.

Petter Stordalen, a Nordic hotel owner about success:

“Success isn’t something you have. Success is something that you’ve had and something that you can have again.”

So, this is an opportunity for all of us to look at the experiences businesses are crafting for us and those we are crafting for others. Are we comfortable supporting a company that doesn’t respect us as users? Are our users giving us the respect we believe we deserve? If you answer no to either of those questions, it’s time to reassess where respect was lost and start working to repairing it and then maintaining that relationship. Strong communication, well thought out services that consider the user at every step, and freely giving respect will have you back on track in no time!