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Online Customer Experience

An excerpt from the January 16, 2001 issue of Release 1.0, Esther Dyson’s monthly report.

From “User Confusion to User Inclusion: Online Customer Experience,” by Kevin Werbach.

Creative Good: changing the world, one site at a time

… Creative Good’s consulting practice blends strategy, usability and organizational work. Looking at the site alone often amounts to treating the symptoms rather than the core problem, [CEO Phil Terry] says. The capabilities and culture of the company or business unit must also be taken into account. Among other things, Creative Good operates usability testing facilities it calls “listening labs.” The company insists that clients watch in person as users go through the tests, because that’s the best way for them to learn how to listen to what customers want.

In addition to consulting work, the company publishes reports and a free email newsletter (available at goodexperience.com that has over 40,000 subscribers. Last year Creative Good also organized its first conference on online customer experience.

Terry and Hurst prefer the term “customer experience” to usability because they see the latter too often sliding into mechanical, task-based analysis. “In software you can be task-driven, but on the Web you want to let the customer set the context,” says Terry. When Creative Good does its usability tests, it doesn’t give users specific tasks to perform. In a real-world situation, users often simply fail to understand the purpose of a site or a feature, even if it seems obvious to the designers…