When designing user experiences it can be compelling to think of customers as the most important users and pay less attention to other user groups.
But, in doing so, important insights may be missed. Our recent research into mobile tapping highlighted this exact problem.
We’ve just completed research into mobile tapping and the use of NFC. Even though ‘tapping’ is not yet widespread in the UK, we decided to take a look at some use cases in London, including museums, retail and restaurants.
The response from customers was neutral or curious as most people knew very little about NFC or the act of tapping their mobile for data exchange. Many staff members we spoke to also had little knowledge about the NFC capabilities around them and many were visibly uncomfortable at being asked.
We visited a museum and saw no guests attempt to use their mobiles with the NFC tags that were scattered around the exhibitions. We asked about the tags at the information desk and they replied that the technology was outdated and that they thought a particular brand of phone was needed to use them.
In a restaurant, which had an option for mobile payment, we asked a staff member what it was and if we could try it. Our waiter was clearly uncomfortable about the question and replied that we would need to install an app. He had never tried it and wasn't sure which app it was. He then made excuses and left the table.
We downloaded the app and ventured on to find out how to use the payment system. In the meantime our waiter came back to check on the table, saw that we still had our mobiles out and hurriedly turned around. Only once we had made the payment (our new app allowed us to do this without his help) did he come back to bring us our receipt.
The payment system was working flawlessly and was very convenient, but we had to figure everything out for ourselves both in the museum and the restaurant. By including the staff in the design process they could have both become active ambassadors for its use and could have provided valuable feedback about how this fits into the space between them and the customers.
So get your staff involved when implementing new technologies in retail.