I’m often struck by how my interactions with the Internet have reset my expectations for the offline world. But recently I’ve been noticing how that door swings both ways. Today my offline world involved parking my car in a new parkade.
If you think about it, parkades are pretty simple structures. They’ve been around for a long time so you’d think that there has been plenty of opportunity to get them right. This is why it astounds me how many get it wrong.
I’d never been to this parkade before so here’s what I needed to know very quickly (because I’m in a moving vehicle and I’ve got this big SUV behind me): how do I get in, where do I park, how do I pay and how do I get to an elevator to get to my meeting on time. In marketing terms, this is called the “use case” for every single car that enters the garage (oh, the luxury of a single use case).
So, after the remarkably frustrating experience of locating a parking spot that wasn’t “reserved” for someone else and almost having that SUV crash into me twice, I finally get my car parked. About five minutes of searching for the elevator later, I finally find it across the garage. Then I press the button and wait. While I’m waiting I naturally look up to see where the elevator car is so I can know about how long I’m going to be waiting. You see, as usual, I’m running late for my meeting. Unfortunately, there is no floor indicator so I have absolutely no idea how long I’m going to be waiting here. This is insanely frustrating. I listen to the door, no sound. I’m trapped in someone else’s process without knowing when I will get out. After five minutes, I leave to find the stairs. After another frustrating five minutes, I take those stairs to the street level and resolve to never park there again.
Huffing my way down the street toward my meeting I am reminded of the parallels between this experience and online marketing mistakes companies like mine could make.
I ask myself: How well have we defined our use cases for our customers (not the ideal ones, the actual ones)? How well have we mapped our processes to those use cases so that our users know exactly where to go from every page to get what they want? How well have we done on setting their expectations for all the processes we have to take them through and how long it will take? Have we included an elevator indicator for every process? Do customers always know how to get out if and when they need to? Do they leave in a huff or in a pleasant hurry, having achieved what they set out to achieve?
All good questions. None of which I had time to answer because I was already 15 minutes late for my meeting.
What offline experiences have you had recently that reinforce the need to create good online user experiences?