How does price affect the “user” experience?

It is silo-based thinking to think that there is a set of user experiences and a set of customer experiences. There is only one set of experiences, and every single interaction with the organization contributes to it.

I have always disliked the word ‘user’. What do drugs and the Web have in common? Traffic, Users and Hits. The word ‘user’ crawled up from the traditional IT dungeon. It has historically been a word laced with contempt, or worse still, indifference. The reason why traditional IT launches a continuous steam of technological monstrosities is because they are designed for users. In other words, they’re designed for people who don’t matter and therefore they’re not designed at all. They’re engineered so that they technically ‘work’ even though ‘working’ may involve you having to do 6 months of training, reading a 7,000 page manual and going through 673 excruciating steps that take 92 hours, when it should only be 3 steps, taking 2 minutes.

Anyway, we are seeing progress and the whole user experience sector is full of valiant professionals trying to convince their organizations that users are indeed human, that users should be given some level of respect, and that some users might even be valuable customers.

It’s great as far as it goes but it’s all part of the human instinct to create tribes. User experience professionals see themselves as different and distinct from customer experience professionals.

According to Wikipedia, customer experience “is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship.” Wikipedia defines user experience as “a person’s emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system or service.” However, according to the Nielsen Norman Group, user experience “encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” Confusing?

Let’s for a moment accept that there are indeed two distinct experiences. Where does price come in? As someone observed to me recently, user experience people rarely think about price.

I recently decided to treat myself to a Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard and mouse. I knew it would be expensive but it has great customer reviews. I visited the Microsoft store. The price was €130. Hmm, I thought. Maybe I’ll check Amazon. Now, it seems counter-intuitive that you would check Amazon instead of Microsoft if you wanted to buy a Microsoft product but stranger things have happened. Lo and behold, the price on Amazon is €80, a full €50 cheaper!! I’ve just had another great Amazon user / customer experience.

Do you notice that when you go to hotel websites these days the design almost screams out at you: “Our Best Rate!!! Guaranteed!!!” Now why would that be? Could it be that for years we were getting better rates on hotels.com?

You see, if user experience professionals lock themselves into a narrow, rigid definition of their profession based on some narrow concept of use, they allow the customer experience professionals to sweep down the pitch and win the game.

I had a wonderful user experience recently on an airline website. I just didn’t book the flight because it was too expensive. Price is a huge part of the experience. We must think in a holistic way about the experience. How can an interface help build trust and confidence if the price is €50 more?