Often times promising entrepreneurs will come up with a genius idea for an app but end up entangling a lot of important components into one product. If you’re a geek in any capacity that works in tech today, there is no doubt you’ve heard the following: “I’ve got this great idea for an app, tell me what you think…” To which us geeks inevitably roll our eyes as the individual begins to describe a blend of apps on the market and how it solves a crucial problem of our generation.
What many of these entrepreneurs tend to overlook is the revenue model doesn’t necessarily mesh well with the usability. Making the mistake of combining a customer experience and a user experience has ramifications that could result in a poor experience on both ends.
The User Experience (UX), as many usability geeks would be aware of, would include most operational needs, which includes the information architecture, the general navigation, and completing functional tasks relatively easy.
The Customer Experience (CX) has many external variables embedded in it. It embodies user experience, because after all, a customer is a usertype. The major differences here need to accommodate the mission of a particular web or mobile app. A customer experience may, and often does, impede on the mission.
The Revenue Model: Brickless and Mortarless
Advertisements are often an easy way to monetize and take advantage of a large user base that does not pay for usage. These advertisements have a direct correlation to the quality of user experience and customer experience. Advertisements, unless otherwise stated, are something a user would want to avoid. YouTube for instance knows this by adding a ‘skip ad’ button. Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, and even Skype all include advertisements which in some instances significantly hinder the user experience.
Earning revenue is very important to the stability of an application, obviously. So some means of providing a balance between the customer experience and user experience is crucial. The most apparent examples of this customer experience and user experience balance is in simple games on mobile. Games like Clash of Clans, Game of War, and many similar strategy games implemented the token system for users to buy.
The token system has several advantages to the harmony needed between customer experience and user experience, the first of which guarantees that the user experience is good because the user wants to keep engaging (playing) with game. There is a hard way to advance and just like life there is an easy way, all one needs to do is pay for it. Some users take the game extremely seriously and get into. A sizable portion of users are willing to shell out a couple of dollars to beat a level they’re just cognitively unequipped to beat. It is wholly appropriate here because the tokens for sale are now a resource for the user, and as such resources tend to be a positive tool in a user experience. It also tends to be a negative experience for a user’s wallet.
The Revenue Model: Bricks and Mortar
What about a case where a company has brick and mortar stores? They already have a customer experience in store and they may want to transfer this experience to a digital front. Companies like Starbucks or WalMart may be hyper aware that the shopping experience needs to optimize cross platform usage.
The Starbucks app enables users to reimburse rewards and pay for their coffee right from their mobile device. The whole app is catered for the customer which makes the UX development a lot easier. The customer has a set of defined tasks, one cannot simply peruse the Starbucks app, it is task oriented.
WalMart took an already acceptable customer experience and improved it through their technical solution called ‘savings catcher.’ Now while the politics of WalMart are extremely divisive, the savings catcher is a very unique and progressive means of providing a good customer experience. It’s such a novel concept in some senses, the user first shops at WalMart, then scans his or her receipt, then WalMart will run a check for the same product at multiple retailers. If the price was cheaper anywhere else, WalMart will refund you the money. WalMart does all the work too, the user just uploads their proof of purchase. With a global customer base of over 100,000,000 there are sure to be savings and the more a customer spends, the likelihood of getting the best deal increases.
The UX of the application, however, is nothing revolutionary. The bells and whistles are purposely diluted in order to accommodate that potential of 100,000,000 customers who would be app users.
The Bottom Line
Designing and developing for a good user experience means beginning at a bottom line: are we here to make money from a customer, or are we here to provide something else? Service based products like Spotify or Pandora do really well providing music. Earning revenue however was not necessarily part of the game plan from beginning.
Including a customer experience helps if you know what kind of customer would integrate well into a user experience.
(Lead image source: Jason Howie)