UIEtips article: Can I Trust You? How Anticipating Problems Can Help Your Brand

Jared Spool

April 30th, 2008

Every year, I ask each of my graduate students to interview four of their friends, finding what brands they love and what brands they really despise and the reasons for their feelings. These students, being engineers, all go into the experiment thinking that people will either love or hate the products made by the brands. However, coming out of the study, they reveal, without fail, that it’s the overall experience with the brand that makes a difference.

Many of the interviewees have strong opinions about car brands. And it’s rarely the craftsmanship or engineering of the car that gave them the strong opinion. Instead, it’s something the dealer did or didn’t do. In fact, in many cases, the car could have a problem and, if handled well by the dealer, the customer would come away with a positive opinion of the overall brand.

Many of our clients are working on improving their brand, yet they often overlook what can happen when a problem arises. If the experience in handling the problem is positive, that could strengthen that customer’s engagement with the brand. However, if they somehow make the customer feel worse, then the brand suffers.

In this week’s article for our email newsletter, UIEtips, I talk about how teams from FindTape.com, Netflix, and BestBuy.com designed for problems that arise. In each case, their design helped customers end up with an improved experience and a stronger brand.

You can read my article here.

Have you tried to anticipate your user’s problems in your design? What experiences have you had with your designs? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

[On the subject of how designers can strengthen their brands, this is the subject of our next UIE Virtual Seminar. On May 14, I’ll be presenting “Strike Up the Brand: How Smart Design Can Strengthen Your Brand.”]

One Response to “UIEtips article: Can I Trust You? How Anticipating Problems Can Help Your Brand”

  1. Natasha Lloyd Says:

    More on Netflix — There was a period of a couple months when every other disk I got from Netflix was damaged in a way that made it unplayable. I got very familiar with their “report a problem” form and, naturally, very frustrated. In my frustration, I wrote an e-mail to their customer support compaining about the problem. Their response? They apologized for the situation, acknowledged how frustrating it can be to have to replace damaged disks all the time, and gave me a discount off my next month’s subscription fee as an apology.

    How great is that?! Sure, it’s not “design”, but it is part of my overall experience with Netflix and it certainly strengthened my waning opinion of the brand.

    The thing is, even though my problem was with damaged disks, they didn’t have to restructure their quality assurance methods or go out and buy replacement disks to make me feel better about the brand. All it took was an honest response and a small token discount.

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