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Or How Diapers.com Changed How I Shop by Remembering Four (4) Basic Aspects of Excellent CX Design 

Normally when I write a customer experience (CX) related blog post it is about something that went very wrong. After all, I’m just like most people. Something goes right I tell my husband and a couple of friends. Something goes wrong, tell the world! This time, I want to talk about the impact even a small great experience can have on brand loyalty – and how it can lead to changing hearts, minds and behaviors.

Believe it or not, despite all the multi-touchpoint experience design I do, I am 100% an in-store shopper… or I used to be.  The ability to see and touch the actual products I am going to spend my money on is very important to me, as is the money I can save on shipping. (Hey, that extra $10 can lead to an even nicer pair of shoes!).  All of that changed, of course, with the arrival of my daughter a few months ago.  What used to be long afternoons of wandering the mall for a great bargain have turned into wondering the halls of the web for…oh, say the cheapest deal on baby formula.  Sigh…

All during my pregnancy people were telling me to get ready for the world of online shopping.  I insisted that while I might break down for formula and diapers, NEVER would I be “one of those moms” who does all of her personal shopping online.  That said, towards the end, hitting the mall was not so much of an option. Resignedly, I opened up the Mac and went online.  And I hated it – with one exception… Diapers.com.

What first got me was, of course, the free shipping… SWEET!  Then, I started to realize that they had a great selection and an easy to use website with a very quick and logical shopping cart flow (imagine that – they even got the shopping cart right)…

But I digress.  Where I am headed with this story is that over these last few months I’ve come to realize that Diapers.com isn’t great just because of the online experience or even the live service and support experience, but because of the very human experience they provide. Here’s an example.

A recent order was, of course, a case of powdered formula. Unfortunately, one of the tins had the seal lifted, so I was a little nervous about not just using that tin, but the whole case.  I sent a note to Diapers expecting them to give me a return / exchange, but that this would probably take a week or so to process.  Not so – the response email was within 15 minutes and while short in sentences, very personal.  Not just an offer to replace the tin, but “we will get the entire case reshipped, toss the old one…” and all of this wrapped in understanding – “I can only imagine how upsetting that must have been with a new baby at your side”… And this is not an isolated instance.  I have had several very impressive exchanges like this with them. Bravo Diapers.com.

Now admittedly I’m an experience designer, so of course I want to share my big takeaways from my experience. Anecdotal and personal as they are, combined with what I have learned researching and designing others’ experiences, there are some significant “truths” here I’d like to reinforce for all you marketers out there trying to figure out how to turn new customers into loyal ones.

1) Make yours a truly human interaction – Anybody can provide standard, generic, “your business is important to us” service or support. It makes all the difference in the world when a product website or a company employee recognizes that I am a human being and would like to be treated as one, not just another customer.  This distinction – “I can only imagine how upsetting that must have been…” – makes all the difference. It makes an emotional and memorable connection and begins to create the relationship and affinity that ensures I come back for more. Remember that online doesn’t mean inhuman – it is an opportunity to be even more human. Here’s how…

2)  Use what you know and remember me – I share info with you so you can better serve me. So go ahead – show my recent purchases when I login, tie your recommendations to related items I have purchased, and be smart about it. If I just bought a little black dress from you, I might need shoes, but the odds are pretty good that I don’t need another little black dress. For example, what Diapers.com does so well is make it easy to reorder what I would logically reorder – e.g. food and diapers. And it doesn’t waste my time highlighting an order I am not likely to reorder – e.g. a specific toy I just purchased.

3)  Make it crazyeasy to do business with you – Design your experience not from the perspective of what you can do and support, but from the perspective of what I need to accomplish and how / when / where.  Designing with me in mind leads me to trust you in a variety of contexts, not just the one I am most familiar with. Most important, keep it simple. Think about your favorite brick and mortar stores: more than likely they make it really easy to find what you’re looking for, to get help if you need it, to stumble upon other stuff you like and to check out when you’re ready. Too often shopping online is characterized by too many irrelevant choices, lousy search results, forced associations and no readily available help.

4)  Do not underestimate the impact of the little things on an overall experience – Before the formula incident, I was a fan of Diapers.com, but now I am a true loyalist. The thing that nabbed me wasn’t how fast or cheap their service is, but literally that little line in the email about knowing how upset or frustrated I might be as a new mother. Just that little bit of empathy, that human touch is all it took to win me over. Fix the problem without that touch and I’m thinking you did what was expected. Include it and you alter how I think about you.

What is probably most amazing about this whole experience with Diapers.com is that now instead of comparing online experiences to live ones I do the opposite. I am comparing live experiences to my recent online ones.  My behaviors have changed as well. I only go to stores when I have to. I shop online not because it is cheaper, but because I am finding it can actually be more human. Now that is a statement to ponder!