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First-class user experience

TripAdvisor is getting its website right by mapping out a clear customer ‘journey’, whatever platform is used.

An enthusiastic traveller, I had the pleasure/horror* recently (*delete as appropriate) of going through airports in Warsaw and Amsterdam, and the experience could hardly have been more different. The first, Warsaw, was a slow-moving, jammed mess, where the needs of the airport employees far outweighed any concern for the customer. Judging by the unnecessarily large queues, they actually couldn’t care less whether you caught your flight.

In contrast, Amsterdam was all about convenience – kiosks to check journey status, clear signposting and helpful security personnel. When you think about it, our need for an efficient, customer-focused journey on any website is largely the same as our need for hassle-free airport experiences.

This got me thinking about that most ubiquitous of travel sites: TripAdvisor. In terms of a broad, user-centric focus on the customer I think it is getting it very right. It is a comprehensive picture with total clarity of purpose. Whatever your device of access, this is all about YOU and meeting YOUR requirements. While the desktop experience is fine, it’s in the mobile applications that this service really comes into its own. Downloading the right app is easy and quick. A cheeky little pop-up will point you towards the optimum experience for your device.

Whether your app is on a smartphone or tablet, you will start with the clearest sense of the brand and a friendly, casual tone of voice that is both upbeat and authoritative. Throughout, the user experience is fast, simple and clear. On my phone, everything I need is above where the ‘fold’ used to be – hotels, restaurants, things to do, flights and forums displayed in a clear generic railway track layout, with clear icons representing services. Navigation has absolutely my needs in mind and getting to where I want to be is achieved via sensible calls to action on big buttons, done in a low number of taps.

The presentation on tablet is suitably crisp, rich and engaging. After the pictures of exotic foreign locales softly fade away, my search dispenses with convention, with a centrally located bar surrounded by navigation choices. Whatever I select, the balance between the visual and text-based information is excellent. Accessing and leaving reviews is easy. If I need to, I can save what I look at for later. Even better, I can sign in with Facebook to keep my friends posted on what I’m looking at.

Perhaps most useful, of course, is that my smart devices know where I am. I can select hotels and restaurants near me, filter by budget and get to a relevant set of suggestions extremely quickly.

Regardless of what you ‘sell’, the primacy of the customer journey is central – fast, intuitive, hassle-free – and just works. TripAdvisor gets that and delivers a terrific experience across a range of touchpoints. Whether you are choosing a holiday, passing through the airport or selling shoes, it’s worth keeping an eye on what these guys are doing pretty well – common-sense navigation, a balance of informative and visual, opinions that matter, the clearest picture of product, consumer and the overall journey. For me, this is a service that offers a great 360-degree experience with the customer at its heart. A lovely trip in itself, on desktop and mobile – pay attention Warsaw!

  • Sean McKee, Head of ecommerce and customer services at footwear retailer Schuh


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