07 December 2011

The predictable state of retail.

Standing in line last night at a big box store (that sells office supplies), a curious sequence of events had me thinking how desperate all of this seems. I was there to buy a simple cardboard box. In the transaction, I was asked if I had or wanted a warranty card. I was then asked if I wanted to get a deal (2 for $10) on printer paper. As my transaction came to a close, I was handed three pieces of paper. My receipt was expected, and a coupon for my next visit was also somewhat expected, but the coupon for a local shoe store was not. How does all of this relate to my visit for a cardboard box?

The trend towards infinite expansion of offerings, and 'anything for a buck' promotions reminds me a couple of other industries... notably the airlines and long distance calling. You've probably noticed that long distance calling is now free, and airlines have resorted to silly things like charging extra for snacks and your luggage.

There is always someone who will work for less. That's not a disruptive business model. That's competition. Retailers need to focus on what they do well. They deliver immediacy, they deliver a human touch point, they allow you to try on that blouse, and they offer an opportunity for customer service. These are core attributes that brick and mortar stores offer over and above most any dot com. Focus on what you do best, and scale to meet demand.

21 November 2011

Why you should not have a mobile UX team.

A radical thought? Maybe, but it’s worth considering. Silo’d teams may make sense for technology solutions, but not for user or customer centric work. Should you have a dedicated mobile engineering group? Maybe, but this thought is primarily focused on UX.

In this era, successful products rarely come from pure engineering efforts. That is the ‘technology first’ approach of a bygone era. That doesn’t mean that have a first rate engineering team isn’t important. It is as important as it ever has been. What it means is that the real tactical advantage in competitive markets is a focus on customer needs. It always has to come first…

but back to the first point…

What we thought about mobile just 12-18 months ago is now old school. Yes, some people still make lists on their desktop and send it to the phone, but that is now latent behavior. If you want to capture the early adopters (who by the way will be your loudest advocates when you’re successful) you have to think differently. Mobile needs to be an integrated strategy, not separate and definitely not an after thought.

But here is the real trick to mobile. Very little of it is specialized. If your mobile strategy and design crew don’t really really understand the context of use… then they probably should not be designing in the user experience realm anyway. Context… which is key to understanding mobile, is a core insight for ANY designer working in this space.

So arm your user experience team with tools, thoughts and the freedom to think beyond the desktop and in the mobile space. It’s what they want to be doing anyway.

13 September 2011

Customer Service

from the description on Crunchbase regarding Tony Hsieh of Zappos:

"He eventually joined Zappos full time in 2000. Under his leadership, Zappos has grown gross merchandise sales from $1.6M in 2000 to $840M in 2007 by focusing relentlessly on customer service."

very telling.

06 May 2011

Should we treat our bosses like we treat our kids?

There comes a time in every person's life when we need to realize that parenting is about doing what's best for the kid over the long haul. Yes we want them to 'be' happy, but making them happy day in day out is not. Teaching them to love themselves is the key... than and only then can they find happiness. Parenting is often about doing the hard thing... or more... about making your child do the hard thing.

In 'free agent nation' Daniel Pink pontificates about the average tenure of the corporate employee being very shot in comparison to our parent's era. Does this mean we answer up to extend or amplify our career? After all... we may not really be invested for the long haul. We may see ourselves with a five year stint... the company will go on... and I've got to gain as much ground as I can in those five (I'm exaggerating because my boss is likely to read this) years.

I think I am old school. I thin operating from the perspective that 'I can always get another job' is appropriate. It puts you in a position to answer hard questions, serve the bad tasting medicine and in short, do the right thing.