What can my favorite Taco Bell restaurant teach us about the value of a positive user experience? More than you might think. Today, I explore four of the lessons I learned the last time I lived mas(ly).
This afternoon, on a short lunch break, I stopped at the Taco Bell that sits directly across the street from the office park that includes Prime Concepts Group. I’ve been to this restaurant countless times and have always had a remarkably positive experience, and today was no different.
Actually, there was one difference—today I was cognizant enough of the experience to start developing a blog post about it. It turns out, my favorite Taco Bell can actually teach us quite a bit about the value of a positive e-commerce user experience.
1) Customer service matters more than you might think—even here.
Most fast food restaurants are not known for their outstanding customer service—and rightly so. After all, when you’re looking for a quick bite, customer service isn’t usually something you consider in your decision. But it influences the user experience more than you might think. For example, the customer behind me approached the counter, greeted the attendant, and began ordering—all in Spanish. And the woman behind the register never missed a beat!
The simple decision to staff the register with a bilingual employee was the difference between a customer staying at Taco Bell or leaving. Not to mention how much it reassured me that I was eating at the right restaurant. See, customer service can be that bridge between great products and a great experience, even at Taco Bell.
2) Never pass up the opportunity for a well-placed up-sell.
In e-commerce optimization, you always hear about the power of up-selling or cross-selling products. As your customer is on the cart page, why not offer her or him a product that complements what’s already in the cart? And the same goes for my friends at Taco Bell—whether it’s a well-placed recommendation for “steak” instead of “ground beef”, the invitation to try one of TB’s dessert items, or the pitch to help a local charity by adding a dollar to my order.
The bottom line is, since I’ve had that positive buying experience, they’ve “primed the pump” for another sale. And more times than not, I take the recommendation (Chris was right about the steak, by the way).
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3) The value of a positive user experience becomes more apparent to the customer over time.
This one is the most intriguing to me: Even though I don’t consider user experience to be relevant in my fast food decision at first, over time, I become more and more conscious of that experience. I didn’t think much of the great experience the first few times I ate at this Taco Bell. Maybe I was just conditioned to lumping together “mediocre” experiences and “great” ones since most of my fast food experiences are closer to “lousy.” Does that make sense?
However, after a few trips back to the land of the Beefy Crunch Burrito, I find myself unable to not think about positive user experience. I’m to the point where I know it will be a good time if I go to that Taco Bell—even if I’m not in the mood for a taco!
I’ve seen this to be true online, too. I sometimes use my smartphone to pay my student loan, using that company’s website. The first few times, I didn’t think much of it—only that I hate having to pay my student loans. However, after a few pleasant visits, I finally realized how great it was that they were providing such a seamless mobile experience. After all, I’d used bank apps before that were confusing and cheesy—but this one actually worked! And, of course, now there’s only one way that I pay those loans back.
4) When it comes to social proof, sometimes all you have to do is ask.
During one recent experience at Taco Bell, I finished up my order, finished my conversation with the attendant, and thanked him for taking such good care of me. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a stack of flyers which he had already written his name on the top of. He told me, “If you enjoyed this visit, you can tell us about it on this site.” He explained how there’s a place to add the name of a particularly helpful employee (wink, wink).
Now some might consider his reaction presumptuous; I choose to look at it differently. After all, his reaction showed me one of the things that makes this restaurant different: they expect positive customer experiences. And lo and behold, when they expect customers to have a great time, and when they work hard to make that happen, it usually does. And customers are happy to talk about it afterward. Just ask ‘em. 🙂
5) It’s possible for a great shopping experience to brighten someone’s day.
Last week I went into the Taco Bell (yes, I eat a lot of Taco Bell) after what started out a terrible day. I had totaled a rental car, missed work, and was tight on cash for a few days. I did not go into Taco Bell expecting them to make my day a little brighter, but that’s exactly what happened. The attendant struck up a conversation with me at the register, and I shared how things had been going. He offered me some humorous suggestions for avoiding future accidents given my track record. I left smiling.
A positive user experience really has the power to lift a customer—when you provide the exact product or service a customer is looking for and your site works the way he or she expects it to, the entire experience becomes more personal. Your store becomes that fun, welcoming place “where everybody knows your name.” And when you’re that store, people can’t help but come back.