End User Experience: What Can Pizza Deliveries and Hurricanes Teach Us About It?

How could pizza deliveries and hurricanes possibly relate to the end user experience?

Last night I ordered a pizza from one of the major chains. They have a fantastic, intuitive website that lets you order a pizza for delivery without ever picking up the phone. The site is full of useful features: a detailed menu, easy ordering etc. But the best feature by far is what wraps up the process. Once you’ve placed an order, you can check its progress from start to finish with a neat bar that pops up. The status bar tells you when your pie is being put together, when it comes out of the oven, when it’s in the driver’s car; the whole nine yards.gi

Being able to track your order adds nothing to the finished product. Your pizza isn’t going to taste any better because you know it’s almost at your house. That status bar won’t get you to buy any additional product or spend any additional money.

So why would they add this as a feature?

What makes it so compelling?

It’s all about providing the customers with data. The level of transparency your organization offers is like a meter of trustworthiness to the end users. This leads me to something we are all familiar with on a daily basis as managers we have to deal with issues. Whether it’s a product problem, sub-par service, or – God forbid – a bug, telling your users about it is imperative. You need to offer all the details you can, with almost no filters. Only then, when you’ve built trust in the fact that you are managing the situation (and that trust is solid), can the other side listen to your solutions. What steps are you taking to fix the situation? Offering up your plan shows that you are in control of whatever happens. If you can show that you were prepared for whatever problem your users are having, they will breathe a sigh of relief, and feel that they’re in good hands.

On the other hand, if you’re not prepared – if something completely unexpected and unknown has come up, admitting the truth will still be better than silence. Hurricane Irene provides a great, recent example: millions lost power and the utility providers were nowhere to be found. Users called and asked when the power would be back, and they’d hear a recorded message telling them nothing. Even the nightly news was reporting on it. The Governor of Massachusetts tracked down the executives of one provider all the way in Europe for answers. Obviously, this made a lot of people very unhappy. But, what if the providers held a press conference and said: “look, this is a huge mess and it’s going to take us a few days to straighten everything out. Sit tight and we’ll fix it soon”? When you’re open and tell users upfront: “Yes, we have an issue, = this is why it happened, this is what went wrong, and were working around the clock to fix it,” it sounds much better than: “Everything is fine, don’t worry. “

As I keep telling my guys over and over, day after day: “It’s all about the amount of data you provide and how transparent you are – not the data itself.”