How to Make a Difference by May 1st: Customer Experience and Deposit Pages Revisited for 2018

In the middle of the twentieth century, American psychologist Abraham Maslow developed his famous Hierarchy of Needs. This paradigm, structured as a pyramid, says that humans’ physiological needs must be met before all other potential needs. That is, in order to experience happiness or, at the very top of the pyramid, “self-actualization,” a human must be able to breathe, eat and sleep. In his book, Designing for Emotion, Aarron Walter adapts Maslow’s hierarchy to describe interface design. While “an interface must be functional”—that is, it must meet the basic needs of the user—it must also be usable. What is more, a truly successful interface should be “pleasurable” to use. In other words, a user should not experience friction while using an interface; instead, the user experiences should be seamless, frictionless and positive.

Creating positive customer experiences is all about reducing friction and creating an experience that is more-than-functional. If, for example, a retailer has a well-designed, intuitive website—this is a positive touchpoint for a customer. If a retailer has a difficult return and exchange process in place, or a convoluted ordering system—this is a negative touchpoint for a customer. This causes friction; the customer may not want to come back. Amazon knows this. That’s why they’ve eliminated friction points in the shopping experience, notably with their “one-click” payment method, allowing shoppers to make an online purchase and confirm shipping details with a single click. This reduces the amount of friction that exists between a customer’s interest in a product and the point-of-sale. Less friction leads to happier (paying) customers. This is also true in higher ed.

A common source of negative friction for prospective students (higher ed’s “customers”) occurs during the deposit process. A student’s experience with the deposit process is necessarily shaped by the emotions that accompany admittance: everything from elation and excitement to nervousness or downright fear. As a designer, I try to be mindful of this human element when I design—in other words, I recognize that humans (and all of their possible emotions) are involved. This requires an element of compassion and empathy in how I design, and an awareness of where frustrations may lie in the user experience.  So when I see convoluted, cumbersome deposit experiences in higher ed, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher—your customers want to give you money, so why are you making it hard for them to do so? If you want to increase the number of deposits at your institution this spring, make sure that the process of submitting a deposit is designed in a way that is free of unnecessary, negative friction. To learn what you can do to enhance customer experience on your deposit page, keep reading.


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Alisa Chambers

Alisa is a designer and front-end developer at RHB.