Delight 2012 conference

“Technology is nothing without humanity.” Not only are Mount Hood using technology to make the rental process less painful and gruelling for customers.

But they’re also using RFID as a means of not only getting traffic patterns and telemetry on missing skiers, but enable every customer to visualise their usage across the entire season’s visits.

Not least, every time the speaker ran into PowerPoint trouble during the presentation, he’d repeat the mantra to great amusement.

There were a number of presentations by iSite Design’s favourite customers, some of which were informative and insightful (Ruby Receptionists, Nordstrom Labs), but not all. In a few cases I had the visceral reaction of wondering if the session was designed for my benefit or the speaker’s.

I think the greatest lesson I learned that day was hearing how many organisations in Portland are finding their best ways to make their customers’ experience with them as pleasant and friction-free as possible.

The most interesting takeaway? Nordstrom Labs has a metric they keep prominently displayed in their workspace: Number Of Days Since We Left The Lab. The day after every customer visit, the clock starts counting. I’d like to start tracking my own personal “number of days since I spoke to a customer” metric. As of today, that metric stands at five.

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My experience design manifesto (as of 2012-10-18, 9:18am)

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The most fun, most inspiring work that I do these days is changing the experience of my customers.

Change their experience of laborious, confusing and bloated processes to something that gets to the heart of *helping* them. Help them figure out what is the goal at each stage or zoom level, how to describe the results that would mean they were successful, and see examples of what has been deemed acceptable.

Change their experience of learning how to find the training materials they need – from navigating a far-too-dense eye chart to a needs-centric dashboard of only-what-each-user-needs-to-see information.

Changing their experience of talking to my team about what it would take to adapt our processes to their unique business needs. Listening hard to hear not only what they ask for but what they really need – probing and pursuing that ground truth until I’m satisfied that I’ve found the subterranean lair in which their most closely-guarded desires are secreted, then patiently and persistently coaxing them out into considering a new, more satisfying way to satisfy the needs they have (and not the needs they happened to visualise when they first encountered me).

I defend my customers to the point of making myself hoarse. I impersonate them to the point that colleagues wonder how long I must’ve worked in that field.