User Experience Margin

How much is User Experience worth? Would you be willing to pay a bit more for a product if you also knew you'd get a better experience? I've had to answer these questions lately and based on personal experience, my answer is definitely yes. A couple of weeks ago we had some new countertops and tile work installed in our kitchen. We worked with a local, family-owned remodeling company. Throughout the planning and selection phase, we had a great experience with them and were confident we chose the right company to do the job.

And then they started the work.

What was supposed to take one day lasted for a full week plus a couple of follow-up repair visits. There were several "snags" throughout the process - at one point the owner even paid us a visit to smooth things over. Most of these "snags" were made worse by a severe lack of communication.

The project is complete now and we are very pleased with the results. So, it started out really well and ended really well. But that time in between made for one of the worst, most stressful weeks we've had in a long time.

I had a long conversation with the project manager there yesterday about our experience. He apologized, but it was an excuse-ridden apology. His excuse for lack of communication was that he was the only one that did all of the planning, scheduling, calling, etc and that that was one way they were able to keep costs down.

To me, that excuse is bunk. I would have happily paid more - how much more, I'm not sure - for our kitchen remodeling project if I could have guaranteed the same great results plus an excellent customer experience. Offering low prices is not an excuse to neglect customer experience. If that's part of your strategy, you better pray that your prices are super low - low enough to offset bad experience.

Convenience, flexibility, communication, service - those are all important aspects of good user/customer experience. How much more are those things worth?

I believe a positive user/customer experience should be assumed. It should come free as part of your overall package - not as a line-item on an invoice.

I welcome your thoughts.