Service Design Review: The Credit Suisse Debit Card

Service Design Review: The Credit Suisse Debit Card

Service Design Review: The Credit Suisse Debit Card

Credit Suisse Switzerland recently introduced a new debit card—the first of its kind by the Credit Suisse. Practically everywhere else on the planet, debit cards are very common in 2017.

The functional user experience

The fact I can now use a debit card instead of a credit card presents a huge logistical advantage for me. I use it for online payments at Amazon, or server hosting and domain fees. It is perfect for booking flights and Airbnb stays.

I can put money on the card before I travel, use it for payments outside the country, and I always have a good overview of what is left. I can’t overdraw it, and I don’t have to worry having to pay back large sums in the following months.

The card is actually issued by a partner of Credit Suisse, “SwissBankers”. This company made a mobile app that allows you quickly glance at your balance. It’s not a superior experience, but it does a fairly good job, and few things are getting in the way. There are only minor issues throughout the app user experience.

The broken user experience

On Credit Suisse’s side, things look a lot more dire. Here are the ways you can charge the Credit Suisse debit card:

  • You use use the phone to call them, go through a lengthy identification and confirmation process, upon which the card is charged within the next couple of hours
  • You could go to a Credit Suisse division and charge your card using a form at the banking teller, but this may at least take several hours to register, and even the whole weekend, if you do it on a Friday
  • You cannot charge the card directly the Credit Suisse banking app
  • You cannot charge it effortlessly online, using Credit Suisse’s banking Web app called “Directnet
  • Instead you have to go through an unnecessarily convoluted process to charge your card on the Web, upon which it takes three days to register on the card

You actually have to fill out a full statement, as if it was a money transfer to a different bank, including account numbers, long confirmation numbers, address field, etc. And then, still hard to believe, it takes three full working days to confirm your online charging of the card.

How do you learn about the ways to charge your Credit Suisse debit card? You have to call them, then they send you a printed document by snail mail (three days waiting), which describes the complex and anti-user-friendly ways to put money on your card.

There is no Web page that explains this. Nothing online, but a few marketing lines, praising the advantages of the Credit Suisse debit card.

User expectation

In contrast to the above, the expected user experience is quite straight forward:

  1. Go to and log into your account
  2. On your dashboard, click on the big “Charge my debit card” button
  3. Enter the amount you want to charge in the opening window
  4. Click on “Confirm” to transfer the amount

This should be the same experience mobile as well as on the Web.

Core rating and conclusion

If Credit Suisse Switzerland commissioned a Service Design process, they would quickly discover the weakness of their product release. Even a simple analysis of the existing user journey would have revealed these flaws, which are breaking the customer experience.

Credit Suisse Switzerland may have technical reasons standing in the way of a straight forward, better solution. But those issues should never block the basic functions to meet expectations set by customers. A simple way to put money on their debit card is a fundamental, minimal expectation.

Releasing such a half-baked product in 2017, particularly by a well established financial organisation such as the Credit Suisse, is sabotaging the product and hurting customer trust in the brand.

Core has experience in strategies for product positioning, defining value propositions and finding the deep connectors that are shaping a lasting relationship with your customers. It is never too early or too late to do this right.

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Quartz News Ignores User Intent With Its Conversational User Interface

Quartz News Ignores User Intent With Its Conversational User Interface

(Photo: William Ismael, Flickr, CC Free Commercial Use)

Quartz recently released its first app that introduces a Conversational User Interface, not just to set up the app, but presenting news like chat. This approach was heralded as a breakthrough by tech media and embraced by many of my peers in the UX community.

I think it was a terrible idea. Quartz tried to make a splash with something seemingly innovative, new *. They used this approach, probably thinking they would remove friction and make for a more personal experience than your average news app.

The Substance of Quartz

The Quartz audience is diverse, but it probably also reads Vox, listens to NPR and reads more traditional magazines, such as The New Yorker. This audience is hungry for intelligently curated and edited news content.

Quartz, the material, consists of a crystallised mineral in a very specific structure. One strength of Quartz is to provide the right mix of interesting topics. It’s a bit like Medium, with a lot of in-depth and longer articles, albeit they don’t quite fit into the long-form category.

As a magazine, Quartz has a lot of strength in content and context. It is relevant to the moment, its writing style is driven by curiosity and it is successfully utilising blog methodology to break up the more rigid periodical publishing model most traditional magazines are stuck with.

Nevertheless it is a magazine. It is about discovery of interesting, relevant topics, and, most of it all, it is about reading.

Choosing a Conversational User Interface got Quartz the splash, the media attention they wanted. But it doesn’t do a service to the audience. Instead it commits one of the greatest sins in UX design, it ignores the user intent.

User Intent Is The Driver For All User Behaviour

Users may be surprised by being introduced to things they didn’t expect, and if it’s well done, this surprise may be a pleasant experience. However, the driving force that determines why a user arrives at a place, why they chose the direction to go there in the firs place, is intent.

What is your intent when you open a news or magazine app? You want to read. You don’t want to chat.

This is the major problem Quartz introduces with its app. It does not solve something, it creates a problem.

It took me 10 seconds to quit the app and delete it from my iPhone. I really wanted to like it, because I really like Quartz. But I got so annoyed too quickly. It felt like swimming against the tide.

There is a reason why other news apps guide users through a setup process to define their interests, and then the app learns from the user’s behaviour over time. These things work the way they work, because they have proven to be working well.

A good application for a conversational user interface would be any situation in which the users have questions: I want to talk to support. I want to have assistance with choosing something, informing myself about features or developments of a product. I want to have something explained.

All these applications begin with “I want to…”, the user intent. They don’t begin with “The company who makes this app wants me to…”.

* Conversational User Interfaces are not a new idea. Long before Siri replied to your questions, science fiction stories had introduced us to conversing computers. The movie “2010 – The Year We Made Contact” begins with a scene of Dr. Chandra talking to SAL, the sister computer of HAL 9000—who famously locked Dave out of the spaceship by tricking the astronaut in Stanley Kubrik’s 1969 movie, “2001 – A Space Oddyssey”. Dr. Chandra tells SAL to create a new file called “Phoenix”. “Do you know what it means?” he asks SAL. “A fabulous bird, born out of the ashes from its former life.” she answers.

Peek Delivers a Very Disappointing User Experience

Peek Delivers a Very Disappointing User Experience

A few days ago I downloaded and tested a new app that showed up as recommended by Apple on the international App Store. Here is what I found.

Peek makes a great promise with the visual appeal of its user interface. However, it fails to deliver the most basic product promise with a limiting user experience that makes you guess and run into walls more often than it helps you.

For most calendar apps, there are a number of quirks, like tiny fonts and too many elements cramped into space, calendar apps typically have, which makes them not ideally suited for a mobile device with a small display. Peek is much better in this regard, providing a focus on what you are currently looking for, or what you want to do. Unfortunately this is where it’s greatness ends.

Adding an event that spans over a weekend, like a wedding, holidays or a conference? Impossible with Peek. You will have to open each day individually and add it manually.

Peek uses gestures that seem to have been chosen by a lottery system. Patterns you are familiar with, such as swiping an element left or right, or double tapping it to make it accessible, are missing completely. Instead you have to tap and hold an element to make it accessible.

Peek’s designers praise their work as a great user experience. But in fact they went for style over function. They decided to style every user interface element uniquely, abandoning every recommendation, established flow pattern and interface element Apple’s iOS Human Interaction Guidelines provide, so you find yourself tapping and guessing in an attempt to identify what each thing does and what counterpart it represents in a familiar interface.

There are UI designer rookie mistakes, like elements with an action assigned to them and those that look exactly the same, but do nothing when you tap on them. For an example, the location icon looks like the reminder icon. It leads to you tapping blindly around, desperately trying to memorise what does what.

There are two different time selector interfaces, both of which seem to have been designed not by function, but by looks only. They are both very hard to use. In all, this results in a user experience that seems to be driven by a graphic designer’s preferences, rather than user centred design.

Overall, Peek is one of my those apps with a look and neat effects that makes you want to like them. But they are failing at the delivery of the most basic product function, failing to serve as a true help for what you aim to do.

(Photo: Peek Calendar)

Minuum Rethinks The Virtual Keyboard

Minuum Rethinks The Virtual Keyboard

Minuum is easily the most innovative keyboard available for mobile devices, and it aims to introduce the most advanced way to type. The idea is disruptive as much as the seemingly unsolvable problem: Keyboards follow a traditional design pattern of the classic typewriter.

QWERTY keyboards are extremely inefficient for small screens. Typing on a small device, even at sizes of the iPhone 6 Plus, is still quite awkward and requires training time to get used to it.

The disadvantages of typing on a touch display actually outweigh the benefits of a tactile keyboard. But because a virtual keyboard does have some advantages for diverse mobile applications, we are willing to live with the trade-ins.

Minuum seeks to fix this issue using a drastic approach: it resizes the keyboard to a much smaller size. It looks strange when you see the keyboard shrinking and at first you may think this won’t work at all.

One would think that bigger is what would improve the experience, not smaller, but it appears the opposite is the case. At least the makers of Minuum think it is, and I wonder if they ar right. If Whirlscape, the company behind Minuum, did their homework and ran cycles of extensive user testing, not just for usability but also overall experience (testing how well Minuum integrates into the user flow), they might be onto something that could be potentially big.

Minuum let’s you use eight languages and claims to have a great predictive type engine. Personally, I find the Minuum approach more appealing than the Swype idea. We will see if it is as intuitive as it should be to be able to take off on a mass adoption scale.

(Image: Splitshire)

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

Wikipedia’s summary of Customer Experience provides a solid overview:

“Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. This can include awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. It can also be used to mean an individual experience over one transaction; the distinction is usually clear in context.

Analysts and commentators who write about customer experience and customer relationship management have increasingly recognised the importance of managing the customer’s experience. …

… A company’s ability to deliver an experience that sets it apart in the eyes of its customers serves to increase the amount of consumer spending with the company and, optimally, inspire loyalty to its brand.”

Customer Experience is intrinsically important for product development. I will write more about the influence of the Customer Experience (CX) in the near future. Particularly the differences between User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience seem to cause a lot of confusion. It is admittedly not easy to see through the jungle of information you find online, so I will try to clear up the most common misunderstandings and provide a summary of key factors that make CX work.

(Photo: Terry Johnston, Flickr)

Bad Practice: Using Account Emails For Marketing

Bad Practice: Using Account Emails For Marketing

Here is a thumb rule for all start-ups, all app makers, mobile, Web or desktop: Just because you need my email address to create a user account does not give you the right to use this address for advertising.

It’s called permission marketing, people. When a user opens an account with your service or app, you need to ask for their permission for using their email information for marketing purposes. Make your intentions clear before using their information for your marketing. Don’t call them product updates, news or offers. Marketing is the right word.

No matter how great your product is, how good your intentions are, or how friendly your staff is; if you don’t follow this rule, people getting your marketing email will think “When did I subscribe to this?” and immediately unsubscribe.

You turn a potential opportunity into a negative experience. Will this user subscribe again? Realistically, chances are pretty low.

(Photo: Eddiedangerous)