Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Long and Dangerous Customer Experience Road For Revolutionary Hardware and Devices

Source: Me and Prisma
Being an early adopter has its drawbacks, but it provides one an interesting lens through which to view the customer experience challenges of truly revolutionary products. Consumer's rapid and eager embrace of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have lured marketers and other business leaders into expecting swift adoption curves for each new wave of technology. But it is important to remember that the accelerated acceptance and use of those software solutions could only have been enabled by a massive base of implemented hardware--and that hardware took a much longer and more tortured route to mass adoption.

Does My Experience of Purchase and Abandonment Match Yours?

I was pondering the customer experience of hardware recently while recalling all of the purchases I have made and abandoned in recent years. I am sure I am not alone in these experiences.

Three years ago I bought a smartwatch. I wore it for a couple months, got annoyed, and gave it away. It was clunky, slow, difficult to manage, had poor usability, and the battery life was disappointing, but the real killer was that it didn't add anything my smartphone wasn't already providing more easily and effectively.

Two years ago I bought a fitness wearable. It broke once, I fixed it, it broke again, and I abandoned it. Besides being poorly constructed, it had limited functionality, and the data it collected seemed wildly unreliable, but the real killer was that I got nearly as much value from using the free mobile app to track my exercise as from having the fitness band do it.

Last year I got an Oculus Rift. I played with it, got bored, and now I touch once every week or two--not completely abandoned, but almost. The head-tracking rocked and the 3D was great, but the real killer was that the games available for my old-fashioned monitor were leaps and bounds more engaging than the relatively crude options available through the Oculus Store.

And three months ago, I purchased an Amazon Alexa Dot. It does a few things very well--the device is perfect for playing music on demand and as a party novelty--but I am using it less and less because it doesn't do many things well. The real killer was that I expected it to be fully functioning and intuitive out of the box, but instead, users must add "skills," the installable apps for Amazon Alexa devices. Apps are great on my phone, where I can see and interact with the icons, but the app model doesn't work nearly as well when I have to memorize verbal commands. To make matters worse, the Amazon skills directory is flooded with confusing and poor-quality options. Now, my Alexa device gets more use erroneously responding to dialog on TV shows than accurately responding to my wife's or my commands.

Exception to the Rule: My One Successful New Device

The one exception to my expensive purchase-and-abandon habit has been my Amazon Fire TV Stick. The inexpensive device was easy to setup, the voice commands work well, it is intuitive to use, and I find this is the one new device that is getting regular and ongoing usage. Amazon Studio's "Man in the High Castle" is the current binge-watching fascination in our household, and the Fire TV Stick has become my go-to method for interacting with Netflix and Spotify.

To learn more about my Fire TV Stick experience, what it says about customer experience and the reasons why first-mover advantage goes to the brand that first gets customer experience right, please read my entire blog posts on my Gartner blog. 


Unknown said...

Yep - you have to kiss a lot of princes... It's not unlike voice command inside your typical car - completely useless.

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