Amazon offers a great User Experience: Yeah right.

I stopped counting the number of times I heard this phrase or the number of times I heard myself say it. However, after having such a bad user experience on their website before Xmas last year, I have come to significantly doubt this…
So, let’s rewind 7 weeks. It’s 10 days before Xmas and I have been researching for hours online over the past 2 weeks the perfect gift for my dad and I finally found it: a biking evolution t-shirt!
Deciding about the perfect design and colours was the next step and took many more hours of research.

Amazon, a necessary EVIL?…
Anyway I finally reached a stage where I knew exactly what I wanted and the good news was there were quite a few places I could go online to get it, including Amazon. But I decided I wanted to avoid them as I wanted to use a more niche website on this occasion. Don’t ask me why but I liked the idea of buying something from a specialist website, it felt more authentic!
Anyway, so I try the first niche website and sadly realize if I use them my good is not going to get delivered on time:( Oh well, there are quite a few other online shops left so I try the next one. And the next one. And the next one and same issue…
So my last hope is Amazon…Oh well, I need this gift because it is perfect so Amazon it is – I tried!
So here I am, part of the 25 million monthly unique visitors they get in the UK.

User experience fail 1: Life goes on.
So I get there, I pick the good incredibly quickly and things have been going smoothly throughout in general. And then I hit the: Select a delivery address page button. There are a few delivery addresses there, in fact, every single address I have been using since I started using Amazon, in my case about 7.
The first delivery address that is presented to me is the first one I ever used, that was 8 years ago. I never used it again in 8 years! So why is this the first option that is given to me? Everything was going so well until then. Surely, with all the data intelligence behind Amazon, one would hope it would present you with the most relevant addresses such as the most recently used one or the one used most frequently but no!
I thought personalisation was their thing?

User experience fail 2: Computer says no.
After selecting my address, I get to the card details page. And waiting for me are my last 4 magic digits already there from a previous life. But unfortunately, this is when a 1980 computer tries to talk with a 2015 human. This obviously never ends well. It’s asking for me to confirm/verify this is the right card. Well it is, so I click on next/proceed/take me to the next phase, we know each other. But no. After several attempts of me trying to remind the computer that we met in the past and in fact we did business together – Basically hoping for a Eureka moment back from Amazon, I finally realize I am faced with a machine stuck in the 80’s with an interface not designed for the modern age. If the computer could talk, it would say: actually, there’s been a few errors in translation: when I said please verify your card details, I meant please re-enter your full card details again. Well yes, because just because I am showing you your last 4 magic digits does not mean we know each other well, let’s not get too comfi here please. The fact that I presented you with your last 4 digits was just a tease. After all, it’s Xmas crackers time.
Regardless, I’d love to know the average time spent on this page.

User experience fail 3: The server error message which never ever came.
Then me and the computer finally get each other and I obey it and it’s happy again so it says yes and takes me to the next phase. So I hit proceed to payment. But no magic happens, nothing whatsoever. Nothing for a good 4, 5 minutes! I am being completely ignored for 5 minutes. I get a much better connection and experience from the Ryanair payment system when buying a cheap and cheerful flight…Anyway, this is when something that never happened before does happen: this is the first time in my Internet life where I was hoping for an error message to come up. Because I wanted to know what was going on! I had to go back and forth for another 10 minutes and the till finally opened but needless to say this was painful.
So no need to check your payment failure report because you certainly are not collecting any data on that front.

I’m sure you’ve all experienced similar issues and may be thinking: well yes, these things happen. But can I tell you three things:
1) You don’t expect them to happen on
2) Three UX fails in a row is pushing it a bit
3) It’s Xmas!
For integrity reasons, I must reveal that making an online purchase in the UK, having my good shipped to France at no extra cost, and delivered way on time for Xmas (in fact before I even turned up myself) was a pretty awesome customer experience. But I was certainly left more than puzzled by the user experience I did not see on the website.
As always, thanks for reading and I’m ready for your thoughts and comments!

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