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How do you create a user experience for users who know a process too well? by Jenny Lardh

In this, the fifth of a series of UX blogs, Triad UX consultant Jenny Lardh looks back at a project and asks how you can create a user experience for users who know a process too well.

If you have read any of our previous blogs in this UX series, then you will know that my UX team are lucky enough to work across a wide range of public and private sector clients.

With each project comes at least one significant problem. And in blog #3, I talked about one client who needed our help in migrating 11,000 staff members from one mobile phone provider to another. Spoiler alert. Despite its complexities, the project went well. The client was delighted with the outcome, and for over 90% of users, the process was smooth, and instantly forgettable.

Looking for learnings

This blog was sparked by a discussion with my manager, who asked me what I would have done differently on the SIM card migration project. It was a great question, and we had an interesting debate. But my mind wouldn’t rest. My professional goal is to create the best possible user experience. Only after the event, once the facts and stats are available, can I analyse the data and look for learnings; what would I have done differently?

I started to think about the 10% of users who got stuck during the migration. As part of this migration, all users needed to swap their SIM cards, and this is where the task became complicated.

With a private single SIM swap, a SIM card is either sent out ready to be used or comes with activation instructions for the user. We sent all SIM cards out blank as it would have been a security risk sending them out activated if someone else got hold of it. The activation was not triggered by the user but was processed by our tech team, who scheduled each user’s migration. So, to activate the user’s SIM, we needed them to confirm that they had received it. We created user instructions with three key steps:

  1. Confirm you have received your SIM card.
  2. Wait for us to confirm your migration date.
  3. Swap your SIM card on your confirmed migration date.

Less than 1 in 10 were stuck in the process

The instructions worked well for the over 90% that read the instructions. We hadn’t anticipated that there would be a smaller audience who were so confident that they knew what they were doing that they didn’t read the instructions. Instead, they proceeded with the process they already knew, saw the new SIM card, and replaced it with the old one. By swapping their SIM card immediately, they missed out on steps 1 and 2, causing them to be “stuck” in the process because if they never confirmed receiving their SIM card, we didn’t know they had it, so we couldn’t schedule their migration date.

The user was now sitting with a non-functioning SIM card in their phone, wondering why it wasn’t working, and they never received the chaser text messages asking them to confirm that they had received their SIM card.

Do some users have too much knowledge?

By using ‘task analysis’ to work out how much detail inexperienced users would need to reach their goal, I overlooked the possibility that some users might believe they already know the process so well that they won’t even look at the instructions but instead blindly follow their assumed process.

Everything was written out in the instructions, even the “make sure you don’t swap your SIM card until your migration date”, but it was done in the logical step-by-step order, which means it wasn’t the first instruction; you had to read on and see it.

Looking back now, if I were to design these instructions again, I would have put in red on the front: “Here’s your SIM, don’t swap it yet, read the full instructions”, and that would mean we’d have two new steps:

  1. Read these instructions.
  2. Do not swap your SIM card until you have read the full instructions.
  3. Confirm you have received your SIM card.
  4. Wait for us to confirm your migration date.
  5. Swap your SIM card on your confirmed migration date.

Hindsight is…

Now I’m not going to be too cross with myself. Hindsight is, indeed, a wonderful thing. The reality is that out of the 11,000 mobile phone users, there will always be a % who still wouldn’t read the instructions thoroughly. But we are in the business of creating the best possible user experience, and this experience has taught me to always consider one important question… How do you create a user experience for users who know a process too well?

 We hope that you have found this blog useful. If you are interested in UX or have a question for the Triad UX team, please get in touch.

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