Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Customer Form, Fit and Function

It seems we spend a lot of time on form and fit. I'm not a design engineer and have learned in the Modern School of Business Hard Knocks. Walking to my coffee shop destination after dropping off the car, I was confronted by this conundrum of design.

About 10 feet in front of me, the path had a sidewalk form, and even fit the spot for a sidewalk. However, in no way did this section function as a sidewalk. Whoever created this was more worried about the customer who needed a transition from the upper level drive to the lower level. He or she was not concerned with the actual customer using the sidewalk.

Too often we design our business processes with poor functioning also.

Recently, a retail store issued a new policy (or a clarification of an existing policy). The executives had decided to describe how the store associates should respond when two programs interfaced. A customer buying the store's gift card (to be redeemed later) would not earn any loyalty points. The customer using the gift card for a purchase would earn loyalty points. This clarification met the form and fit for gift card use and the loyalty program. However, it doesn't seem to be the best function for these two business processes.

Why wouldn't the person giving the store revenue earn the loyalty points? The 'gifter' gets nothing in return from the store, except the gift card. If the person had bought an actual product or service, he or she would have earned loyalty points. Instead, the 'giftee' who is not increasing the revenue in any manner for the store is rewarded with the points.Why would I want to continue to bring new shoppers (friends or family members--the giftees) into an establishment that doesn't reward me for the referral? The store gets my money and my referrals along with any additional business my friends and family bring. I think I should get rewarded.

Just like I think I should be able to safely use the sidewalk just ahead.
Management of Design: Engineering and Management Perspectives (Google Affiliate Ad)

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