Necessary or Not?

Customer experience and ‘experience journeys’ are very topical in business at present. The common vein running through expert opinions is that a central focus on experience is key to good business practice. Understandably, it can get confusing when it comes to deciding upon whose advice to heed on achieving this in practice. Knowing your customers and giving them what they want is the crux of this philosophy. But what if you were to ignore all of the advice? What happens then? We take a look at some examples of when big brands have gone against the experience advice and how it panned out for them.

Is Ignorance Bliss?

If you are considering going against the grain, you’re not the first. Remember that Snapchat update? Its aim was to improve navigation and user journeys – but it didn’t include any user research. Changes included how stories were categorised, with friends, celebrities, brands and media messages being separated out instead of presented as one combined interface. Further changes also affected how content was presented on users timelines, where previously content was displayed chronologically, the updated version displayed content based on interaction levels.

 

The intent? Good. The result? Disastrous.

Snapchat stock lost $1.3 billion after Kylie Jenner, one of the most influential celebrities on the platform, tweeted about her frustrations with the changes. They lost 3 million daily users after this tweet.

A petition on Change.org was created by Snapchat fans to remove the app redesign, which achieved over 1.2 million signatures. But the response from Snapchat executives? They stuck to their guns. They believed that the update was necessary to expand Snapchat’s user base. They insisted that the previous app design was confusing, and that this old format underserved older users and advertisers. In fact their CEO stated “Snap is doing the right strategic moves but needs to manage this process well”.

 

 

Ambition Isn’t Enough

Facebook recently rebranded to Meta, in its unwavering belief that the future of the internet is in the Metaverse. But what if it’s wrong? What if people don’t want the Metaverse? Tidio recently released a survey showing that 77% of the sample population believes that the Metaverse will prove harmful to its users. Common concerns centred around addiction to the simulated virtual world (46%), privacy issues (41%), and mental health (41%). So early indicators would suggest that public opinion does not fall in favour of the move by Meta to push for such a future.

Facebook is dead – it just doesn’t know it yet”.

– Jared Brock
Image Credit: Jared A Brock.

Still, Meta executives show such steadfast dedication to a future that users say they do not want. Their new values of “move fast”, “build awesome things” and “live in the future” seemingly enable this worrying trajectory. Do we need to live any faster? Do we really need to be more immersed in technology? Do we really believe that living in the future is in the best interests of the end user?

 

Resistant, or Just Plain Wrong?

Resistance to change is a part of human behaviour. And most effective user experience iterations, though positive evolutions overall, begin with a bit of resistance to the change. But then how is it possible to know when users are genuinely and unfalteringly against change? How can brands tell the difference between fear of change, versus a true hate for the update? Brands can be ambitious and also balance their users’ needs and include them on such journeys of change – instead of leaving them behind. Brands must also consider the impact of big bold changes on their user base. Changes to customer experience journeys are almost always best introduced in small, iterative steps. This helps to navigate through the inevitable resistance to change from current users, whilst gently and unthreateningly introducing them to new and improved features in a more piecemeal fashion. According to The Drum, only 31% of people surveyed confidently think they know what the Metaverse is. The majority had little to no understanding of the concept, or what it offers. Meta seems to be missing a bit of a trick here. Why not include their users on their journey?

 

Summary

Not all brands follow best practice when it comes to user-focused customer experience journeys. Snapchat and Meta are two brands that have seemingly boundless resources with which to research their user base, and experiment with new methods. Despite this advantageous market position, they too are capable of getting things wrong. A bit of gut instinct is usually no bad thing. But a whole lot of it (without any actual user input) can be disastrous. Favourable share prices, user bases and reputations can be swiftly undone when brands fail to serve the needs of the customer. The lesson? Don’t be afraid to try new things, but include your users on that journey. Listen to them. Make small changes and take small steps. Don’t shove your new gospel down their throats. Because if they don’t like it, trust us, they ain’t buying it.