Monday, August 22, 2005

Being User-Focused: More examples

Royal Mail's feedback options just provide more examples of them not being user focused, but Abel & Cole get it right.

On Friday I was ranting a bit about how the redelivery service for Royal Mail's recorded delivery demonstrated a lack of user focus. I decided to try and be helpful, and send a copy of my comments to the Royal Mail. That is when I discovered the horror that is trying to give online feedback to the Royal Mail.

Before I start criticising, let me add some mitigating comments. The number one priority for the Royal Mail has to be getting as many deliveries as possible to arrive, safely, and on time. Any other customer service issues will always be secondary to that, and if all of their energy is currently devoted to sorting out delivery problems then that is entirely reasonable.

However, suppose you are a customer, who, like me, wanted to make a suggestion on improving their redelivery options, or make some other suggestion about Royal Mail service. So much about the process is horrible I cannot describe it, you have to experience it for yourself. The only reason I can think of is that they are trying to persuade you that writing letters is better than email! But in summary:
  • There is no contact email address
  • You can only give feedback on the website, not on anything else
  • You have to log in before giving feedback!
  • Before giving feedback, you don't merely relinquish any intellectual property claims to the idea, you assign all intellectual property to the royal mail
  • Feedback is limited to 255 characters at a time
  • You are limited in the number of pieces of feedback you can give, and you have to work through a horrible, slow customer service wizard
  • As part of the process you are shown everyone else's rude comments about Royal Mail
The process is so bad it is almost funny. It leaves Royal Mail's customer service department looking like a shambles. Feedback should be sought out, not made as hard as possible to get.

Abel & Cole

In contrast, Abel & Cole are incredibly user focused, and as a result I have recommended them to a huge number of my friends, and I recommend them to you all. They deliver boxes of organic fruit and vegetables, either irregularly or regularly. I have no interest in Abel & Cole besides being a satisfied customer.

I cannot list all the things they do well, as there are probably many I have not discovered. However, a few highlights are:
  • You can contact them by email, telephone, fax or letter, with clearly presented addresses on a contact page. They explain clearly when the office is open, and what you can do if it is not
  • When you set up your account, not only do you give a delivery address, there is space for extra directions for the delivery man, and instructions on where to leave deliveries if you are out
  • When my wallet was stolen, I let them know, and they responded promptly, by telephone, to my daytime number as it was daytime, and said they were happy to delay the charge and keep delivering until I could register my new card with them.
  • They will deliver weekly, monthly, biweekly, or on irregular intervals or one-off orders
  • They provide recipes and descriptions for items you might not know what to do with
  • They allow you to list items as disliked, and they will never deliver them to you again

Each of these clearly solves a specific problem that someone has had or could have had in a nice way that it easy for the user. As a result, it is easy for me to spend money with them regularly every week, and so I do, and we are both happy.

No comments: