Let me start off by saying, I love navigation apps. Whether it’s Waze, Google or Apple Maps, I think they are all incredibly helpful and impressive.
Anyone who remembers a time when we printed off MapQuest directions, highlighted a route on a paper map, or asked a stranger for directions probably shares the same appreciation for the current technology.
While navigation apps are great in a practical sense – getting from one destination to another – they have also changed how I view customer experience design. The features, functionality, and nuance of a navigation app act as a perfect overlay when considering how to create great customer experiences in other contexts.
Here are a few lessons we can take from viewing customer experience through the lens of a navigation app.
How do I get there?
Great customer experience design guides customers precisely where they want to go. Just as a navigation app lets us know what is coming up ahead, the experience should provide the customer with information about what is going to happen next and when.
These details should provide enough detail for the customer to make an informed decision without overwhelming. Consider an analogous experience in a navigation app: If I need to take a right turn but then an immediate left, I want to have that information all at once. However, if my next turn isn’t for 60 miles, I don’t need the next set of steps until I get closer to my exit.
Whether filling out a form, making a purchase, or registering an account, customers want to know what they will need to complete the task. They want to know how long it is going to take and to understand where they are in the process. This information should be easy to digest; the customer should never have to ask, “What do I do next?”
Customers want to know when an action is going to happen before it actually does.. Navigation apps would be useless if it told us we were supposed to turn left 50 feet ago. Similarly, great customer experience ensures provided information is proactive. For example, inform a customer their payment is due in five days rather than only letting them know their payment is past due.
Avoiding traffic and other speed bumps in customer experience
One of my favorite things about navigation apps is the ability to be rerouted to avoid traffic. Time is money and my expectation is that I will get to my destination as quickly as possible..
Great customer experience design allows customers to complete their task and achieve their goals quickly by providing multiple paths to completion. These options must be offered to customers proactively. Customers shouldn’t have to work to find a new way to accomplish the task or achieve their goal.
Business should anticipate potential roadblocks or pain points for customers. In service design, best-in-class companies have excelled at Next Issue Avoidance, which is the concept of using data to mitigate common issues that may arise after an event or milestone. This requires data collection and analysis to see probable speed bumps ahead and reroute or provide sufficient warning to reset expectations.
Whether providing customers with multiple channels to match their preferences or providing proactive guidance, we recommend guiding customers to their destination in the quickest way possible and removing any potential speed bumps or frustrations en route.
You have arrived at your destination
Anytime I am driving somewhere new, I experience some anxiety and worry that I will miss my destination. How will I know I arrived? What if I drive right on by?
Navigation apps alert us when we have reached our final destination and relieves our anxiety by letting us know we made it where we intended to go. Similarly, great customer experience design makes clear to customers have achieved their task or goal —that they have arrived. Whether confirming payment, that the order is placed, or that an application has been received, reassure customers that they have done what they intended to do. For long journeys, it is effective to consider milestones. Communicate with customers as they reach key milestones to set expectations about how far they’ve come and need to go.
By using the standard features of navigation apps for inspiration, you can rethink your experience design to help guide customers where they want to go in the quickest way possible. Even if the journey is long, proactive and anticipatory directions and communication create smooth experiences even if customers need to be rerouted while en route to their final destination.
When the lessons learned from navigation apps are applied, it reduces friction and saves customers’ time, two key factors that differentiate a mediocre experience from a great one.
Want to learn more about creating exceptional customer experiences?