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"User Experience" Isn't Just for Tech Companies

In a recent blog post, Arnaud Bertrand encouraged tech start-ups to stop focusing on technological innovation and to see technology as a means to an end, that end being a better user experience.

The most successful start-ups, he says, "will be the ones focusing their limited resources on defining perfect user experiences and use technology as an enabler of this and not as an end in itself."

I argue that this isn't just true of technology start-ups: it's true of small businesses, too.

Standing Out in a Crowd

Let's face it: you probably aren't the only one doing what you do. You're not the only plumber, baker, cab driver, or shop owner on the block. What's going to differentiate you from your competitors?

It's not going to be an innovation in how you do your job: in general, plumbing is plumbing and selling goods is selling goods.

That's where a focus on customer ("user") experience comes in. To be the business that comes out on top, you need to focus on creating the best customer experience possible.

If you leave your customers happy, you're going to earn a lot of repeat business. If you treat your customers like numbers or money-making implements, they're not going to have a very positive view of their interactions with you, and they'll be less likely to come back to you when they need your type of service again.

Perfecting Customer Experience

Of course, what makes a great customer experience depends on largely on your field. If you provide services that people need fast, like home maintenance, speed is of the essence.

If you sell goods, cost and value are very important; you need to sell high-quality products at prices that people are happy to pay. If you're an artisan, your works should stand out as being beautiful, unique, and long-lasting.

But it goes beyond the product or service that you're selling, too—the administrative tasks that your customers have to go through when they want to hire or buy from you need to be easy and straightforward.

Can they find the information they need on your website? Can they book online? Does your phone number go directly to you, or is there a recorded message that the caller needs to listen to first?

Similarly, you need to make it easy for your customers to pay you. If they can only pay cash, and they need to run to a cashpoint while you're fixing their pipes, it's going to be a more negative experience than if they can just pay you with a credit card.

And if you do a job while they're not home, being able to take a payment over the phone will result in a positive experience—much more positive than having to rearrange a time to meet when you have your iPhone credit card reader.

Think About It

Take some time this week to think about customer experience and the way in which you can make a customer more happy by making your interactions with them simpler. It's not always about being the most high-tech or the most sophisticated. It's about providing great service and making people happy.

Image credit: Pepe Pont via flickr.

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