"Remove the friction, but not the humanity"
Friction. It's a pain for customers. Being forced to login to a website and not remembering your password, needing to find the loyalty card to scan to get the discount... you know it. I've always been in the camp that the less friction that customers experience when engaging with your work, the better. But I just ran into the limit of that.
I was in a mall recently (they still have them) and I found a new take on a classic video game arcade, by a company called Round One. My two young sons were with me, and were drawn to the dazzling audio and visual experience bleeding out into the mall court. We went in, and they ran over to a glossy update to one of my old-time favorites, skeeball. Touched with nostalgia, I decided to buy them a game. But the machine didn't take quarters or dollars, or even a phone tap. It took a card that needed credits put on it from another machine. So went to that machine, got the access card, and went back to play skeeball. Now, skeeball fans know that one of the best parts of the game is gently pulling the long rope of tickets out of the game. You then take the tickets to the prize area, and they weigh them to tell you how many tickets you earned, so you can know your budget to buy prizes.
Except this skeeball machine didn't spit out tickets.
Instead, it put ticket credits back on your access card. Then you wait in line to run the access card at the prize area to see your budget for prizes. And when we checked, we didn't have enough credits to buy anything. I guess we weren't that good at skeeball.
Other factors contributed to it being a negative experience. The "exchange rate" for credits vs. actual dollars paid in was complicated, and each machine in the place took a different number of credits (one retro game of Pac Man took 10 credits to play, which I worked out to be something like $2.60 a game). On top of that, players are deprived of the instant feedback of putting money in the machine and having the balls drop. And at the end of the game, getting tickets in your hand is by far superior to phantom credits being put on a magnetic access card. In the old way, even if you played terribly, you still got something from the machine.
In short, I'm sure this system was designed for maximum revenue. But in doing so, they removed many of the rich elements to the experience. I don't see any reason I need to play that game again.
In the nonprofit world, we're always trying to streamline the customer experience while they purchase, donate, and/or contribute or consume content. But in designing these systems, we must remember weigh the total experience, and consider keeping the elements that light up our brains in positive ways. The theatre of the future may only admit people by scanning their eyeball. But in doing so, we will miss out on the warm greeting from the box office person, setting the stage for the rest of the experience.
It's time for you to implement. It's Ron's Monday Mission™
Talk with your team. As you streamline your experiences (and design new ones), what interaction elements bring joy to people, and should be preserved?
Have a great week.