Service design Side Projects

Considering customer efficiency in experiences

There’s efficiency and there’s experience. Last month I published an article for UX Mag on the subject of customer efficiency. It opens with a story about the Melbourne trams. It’s conductors were replaced by machines in an efficiency drive. However the efficiency of customers and of the service required consideration around tasks beyond ticket purchase. Conductors served a multitude of customer needs but in the narrow assessment of their use they were deemed redundant.

Tram conductor – Illustration by Nam Nguyen

A reader of the article, Lisa Chow, cited an example from her own professional experience as a library consultant in the comments. A system to check out books replaced librarians doing the task but the self service model wasn’t necessarily efficient for users trying to achieve multiple tasks in the act of borrowing a book–like querying outstanding fines.

Customer efficiency is not about the streamlining of one or two tasks. It is about services anticipating the end goal of customers and providing resolution in a manner which does not increase effort for the customer. This must be a consideration in the design of systems, services and processes undertaken by customer facing staff. If you are curious to read more about the topic check out the article on UX Mag.

It was heartening to receive so many comments (after the hard slog of writing the article 😉 particularly one that provided another case study. The article is part of a series on “The 7 essentials of customer experience” by Different. The first was on predictability and the 3rd article on convenience will be published in coming weeks.


And thanks to my editors – Joe, Amanda and Mimi. It would have made no sense without you!




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