Customer experience: How one sound made the difference in point-of-sale transactions

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

It’s easy to call out the bad customer and usability experiences out there. And there are many.

Here’s a symptom of a badly designed anything: If you need 424 signs to walk people through the process or they have to take a class to use your website. My 3-year-old didn’t take a class to use the iPhone. She just took it from me and used it. “What’s your code, dad?”

But there are good examples of usability out there, too. Many more than Twitter people sometimes lead us to believe. Don’t be so negative only, peeps!

Today’s great example is this point-of-sale device:

I have no idea who is in charge of its design or anything else about the company, but I use it often at stores in Iowa.

You insert your chip credit card and then it takes a while to run the transaction. It seems to take longer than swiping but if you have a chip you can’t swipe. Ugh. That’s another experience that can be improved.

Once the transaction is complete, the reader used to make a loud and annoying sound. Think tornado siren kind of except right in front of you.

Another read: My plumber helped me order something on Amazon he could have charged me for

I guess that was needed because of the length of the transaction.

Customer and cashier both had started day dreaming. Some cat naps had been reported! #snark ??

Once customers recovered from their shock and realized no tornado was near they could leave.

Some of you might tell me to use cash if I don’t like it. I use credit cards, guys! #points

Print isn’t dead: Get a signed copy of my customer service book here

Anyway, then during another transaction in 2018 the siren sound had disappeared and was replaced by what I would describe as a soft melody. ?

“Oh, that’s a nice improvement,” I told the cashier.

“Yup. That’s what everyone says,” she promptly replied.

And that’s why it needed to get updated. When everyone notices, ya know!

I wonder if there was a real measurable business reason even? Would less customers use it? I didn’t. Would less companies buy the machines? No idea what the setup is there.

But no matter, making experiences pleasurable is important and this was a nice improvement. Now, make sure to not forget your card, though!