Lack of attention to details of customer preference

"I need to re-enter your telephone number," said the lady at the accounts desk. "We've changed to a new computer system and it won't accept spaces in telephone numbers."

So I presume that, over the coming months, sales assistants at branches of this well-known national store chain will, on an opportunity basis, need to manually amend thousands of phone number entries to suit a new computer system, whereas the old system coped perfectly well.

To my thinking, a good user interface should suit the user, not the computer. A space dividing an area code and phone number is more user-friendly, meaningful, easier to check and less prone to error, than a continuous string of eleven digits . Even my Windows smart phone has provision to include a space in stored numbers. I am irritated by web sites that refuse to accept, for example, spaces in credit card details or postcodes, or hyphens in bank branch codes, ignoring the good-reasoned practice of many years and confusing the user.

Other annoyances include processes that mess about with the capitalisation of my name. I once had a website accuse me of "shouting" - because I had entered the post town in capitals, even though the Royal Mail has recommended this for as long as I can remember.

Certainly these databases do a great job of keeping track of thousands of accounts. The technical expertise of the people that design and maintain them is beyond doubt.

But there is lack of "finish".

Is it that highly qualified developers do not appreciate the preferences of non-technical customers? Or is someone just being over zealous with data validation? It is an elementary exercise to write a few lines of code to strip out of a data string certain characters not required by a sub-process. (Though I would not think that a telephone number needs to be "processed".)

Fortunately there are some large and famous organisations that do pay attention to detail, with friendlier user interfaces which represent information in the way users are accustomed to seeing it.

Posted by Denis McMahon on 11th Aug 2018
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