The glass might as well be empty

user experienceMy wife and I recently celebrated our anniversary. We bought a new couch and recliner, something we do once every 29 years.  The entire user experience at the local furniture store was top-notch.  We walked into one store, explained what we wanted, saw what we liked, and we bought it.

After pulling ourselves out of the comfortable furniture (it’s amazing how you get used to wood sticking in your back), we went to a fairly new, local restaurant chain.  We both ordered drinks, and my wife’s drink came in what I describe as a crooked glass.

My wife said she was not even drunk and this made her dizzy.  The optical illusion the glass created made you think it was lopsided.  Drinking out of it turned you into a slobbering fool.  Believe me, I proved it.  This was not a good user experience.

The manufacturer of the glass states that you will “(i)ntroduce a unique flair to your restaurant, bar, hotel, or lounge with this glass’s trendy design. Tilted to one side, this crystal clear glass is the perfect blend of whimsy and elegance to please you and your guests. Offering unparalleled brilliance and clarity, this glass makes it instantly clear that your customers are receiving the best product and service possible.

Trendy, unparalleled brilliance and clarity, whimsy.  Where does it state that it will make it easier to drink a beverage?

We finally had to ask for a normal lowball glass.  You know, the kind of glass we have been drinking from for hundreds of years.

I mostly feel sorry for the restaurant – the dinner was quite good.  All we remember are the glasses.

If you forget about the user experience, you will have unhappy and messy customers.

Everything you provide, every problem you solve – all need to consider the customer’s requirements.  It’s a true balance between form and function.

Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What problem are we solving?  Did we make a glass that improves on how adults drink beverages? Perhaps they need to adapt the sippy-cup design to make this work.
  • Do we need a different glass?  See the first question.  Try a focus group or a small pilot.  The data may show that after each successive drink, it becomes even harder to drink from compared to a standard glass.
  • Are we solving the right problem? Again, ask your customers more general, open-ended questions.
    • “What do you like about drinking glasses?”  “I like when they don’t make me drool.”
    • “What could be better about drinking glasses?”  “I wish they could keep my drink colder.”

When you are describing your product to prospects, clearly state the problem it solves and why it is unique in its ability to serve your customers.  Stay away from features.

And for purchasers and consumers, try to stay away from the “shiny new objects”.  You need to ask yourself the same questions.  If it solves a problem for you, then it is probably a “need”.  If it’s cool, it’s probably a “want”.

You will find that your customers have the answer; fill the glass with what they like to make them happy.

Leave your answers in the Comments section!

  1. What’s your favorite drink?
  2. When’s the last time you bought new furniture?
  3. What are you doing to ensure that you are meeting your customer’s needs?



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2 responses to “The glass might as well be empty”

  1. Elaine Bennett Avatar

    It may not be great for drinking, but the crooked glass is a great metaphor for so many things. Whatever you’re doing – making glassware or blog posts or furniture – if it doesn’t do what the user needs it to do, scrap it and go back to square one.

    1. hwaisel Avatar

      Thanks for reading Elaine, and great points. It’s not about you, it’s about your customer, regardless who that may be.

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