Great user experience is like a great performer (watch for the triple threat).

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If you’ve watched movies, TV shows or listened to music recently, you’ve likely come across a triple threat performer. A performer that can sing, dance and act. Does Beyoncé, Madonna or Justin Timberlake come to mind? For me, Jennifer Lopez is top of mind because of her current run on the TV show Shades of Blue. I’d argue that Lopez could even be a quadruple threat as she was a producer on season one of the show. Lopez, Timberlake and other triple threats demonstrate one of the core fundamentals of user experience. They are good at, if not great at, multiple disciplines. They can swerve out of a lane and still provide their fans with great entertainment. Most other actors are single disciplined and provide, what would be considered, a great performance as an actor, singer or dancer. Think of a single great user interface provided by a business.

An actor is born.

Just after the financial crisis, I took over ownership of several hundred user experiences flows at a major US bank. At the same time, a shift in payment strategies was happening. This meant customers (users) were no longer charged a fee when making a payment. This shift increased the priority of optimizing the payment user interface. This was now a high priority. We were trending at 60% completion rate in the process. Meaning that just over half of all users who started a payment actually completed one. The remaining 40% that needed manual intervention, would no longer be charged a fee. Our goal was simple, increase completion rates and create a great user interface. Before I had taken over the ownership of the payment flows there was little oversight. We definitely didn’t have a triple threat here, let alone even a single great user interface.

Two Steps to create a to UI Success.

My team and I quickly started work on this UI. Following these two steps, we transitioned a 60% payment completion rate into a 90%+ completion rate.

#1 Understanding user habits

When parting with money, people LOVE confirmation. Understandably, they want to ensure their money is going towards what they had intended it to. When digging into the data we watched the path users would take and compared these over multiple interactions with the system. What was discovered was that they behaved the same way every time they used the system; they had developed habits. Customers would process their payment wait for their confirmation number and then reach out to a specialist to confirm the payment. The same users repeated this every time they used the system. A confirmation number was provided, but it timed out. Customers had developed a habit of confirming with a customer service associate that their payment went through; they wanted assurance. We could easily work with this habit by providing the confirmation number for a longer period of time. We also proceeded with taking this a step further and adding in confirmation emails to payment interactions. We took the habit that users had created a step further. We also noticed that these same group of users often used the system the next day or a few weeks later to double check their payment. We put a notification up front when they started to use the system. We could have looked at this as breaking the user’s habit, but instead, we viewed it as working with their habit.

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#2 Becoming a triple threat

What we learned by working with a customer’s habits is something that framed the future of our omnichannel strategies. We learned that customers use different channels, for different tasks and the same task. What we could see is that customers would flip from channel to channel for peace of mind. The data showed us that even if a customer made a payment in one channel, say through the automated voice response system, they would also log in online to confirm. We later validated this theory for the second time when we launched online chat. Essentially opening a new channel for customers to confirm and validate what they already knew. Antidotes aside, the lesson here was a simple one; customers need a triple threat. A user experience that doesn’t just predict what they are looking for in one channel, but an experience that predicts and presents a custom treatment in every channel. Imagine that triple threat performer putting on a great show at the Grammys. When you turn to YouTube to show a friend, it’s a different performance altogether.

We rinsed and repeated both of these strategies. Leaning into customer habits and becoming a triple or quadruple threat. We’d often see the power of our strategy in action. For example, if were ready with a new feature on one channel and not the other, customers would notice, ask and request. Users wanted the ability to use any channel, however, whenever they wanted. All said and done, we transitioned the payment flow to a 90% completion rate.

If you watch users habits and become a triple threat, you can exceed their expectations.

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