What the iPhone 5 Taught Me About Customer Experience

In the last year I have written several blog posts about improving application speed and overall IT performance (and I promise, it has not been solely at the request of the Marketing team). I am simply obsessed with performance, it is in my DNA. Working for several years in the Application Performance Management (APM) industry has left me with the desire to make EVERYTHING faster, even while I’m sitting at home. :)

So 3 months ago I purchased the iPhone5 (I’ll admit it, I’m an Apple freak). I’m not planning to write a word about the device speed (it is crazy fast) – but would like to talk about one “minor” change Apple’s product team made (or what we refer to in the software industry, a “minor”).

Apple moved the headphone jack to the bottom of the phone rather than on top where it “usually” belongs. At first I thought: “WOW!” this an amazingly creative idea and It even saves some space… the Apple guys have done it again!”

After tinkering with the device and thinking about it further, I asked the obvious questions:

“What’s in it for me?”
“How does this change improve my experience as a customer?”
“Does it provide value?”

The short answer is no. I simply get nothing out of it, or even worse, it can be annoying.

When I try to listen to music while running I found this feature (see picture below) – REALLY annoying.  I would put the iPhone on the treadmill and it hits the power button. Or, I need to press both of my thumbs down to “like” a song on the Pandora app. Worst yet, most if the applications only display ins one direction so it won’t turn the other way around. This leaves me in the position of reading song information upside down while running.

I was (and still am) frustrated.  Even though these are all minor issues. The key point is, one simple change in usability or product design can result in an unforeseen, negative customer experience.

How does this “minor” apply to my world – delivering a quality customer experience to our SharePath customers? After my iPhone experience, I have refocused my thought process when it comes to our product delivery. The first question I ask myself is what value will this change provide to our product users? If I can’t think of anything, I will forego making any changes.

Here is an example. Last week,  a consultant suggested that we should collect more data about our customers. Specifically, we’d send a list of questions the client would have to fill out before we send them their SharePath log-in credentials. After my experience with the new iPhone “minor” I simply asked what value this would provide to the customer. Nothing! (and please don’t say it will enable us to serve them better)

No matter what business you’re in, thinking hard about what value your product design or service changes provide to users will keep you moving in the right direction. If a problem leads to a mediocre solution, I’d prefer to stick with the problem.  Looking back at Apple, the iPhone 4S was a great problem to have. :)

jpeg for elad post