Thursday, August 30, 2007

Default default

In buckies today, and in the midst of my order for a grande latte, I was interrupted by the slightly harried cashier.
"Were you aware," she asked, "that you have to request whole milk? 2% milk is now our default."
What?

I have a lot of personal reactions to this question from the fact that I now have to add yet another adjective ("whole milk!") to my already adjective rich (iced, grande, triple whatever) order to the sign that I’m pushed yet further to the margins of the culinary choices in America. But that’s not news to me, and considering the problems with plumpness in America, it’s probably a good thing.

What really interested me, however, was the way this exchange at the cash-register represented yet again how deeply our online experience has infiltrated every aspect of our offline consumer life, from the way retail environments are using opt-out methods to reset consumer choices (both behavioral economics and site analytics have demonstrated the power of the default) to the language of customer service.

Can it be too long before a waitress asks if we want to see a drop-down menu?

5 comments:

Paul Soldera said...

It's strange that recent conventional wisdom would have said this personal interaction is important. But as you point out, my online behavior has taught me that, in a well designed environment, I can navigate and use a digital transaction with MORE ease and definitely more confidence - Amazon has never sent me the wrong book.

I was struck by this the other day standing in line for the 'Customer Service' desk at a Supermarket. I wanted to know where they kept the raisins. All I could do in line was keep looking around for a search engine.

erin said...

I'm not sure if I see the correlation (again, here I am coming from a different POV) BUT what I think could be useful in this exchange was a pre-cursor. How long do you think you waited in line to find out you had to ask for whole milk? How many minutes were you looking around Starworld thinking about the day, wondering what to order, wishing the line would move faster?

Waiting in line as a user experience needs to be revolutionized. There easily could have been a sign with this information, preparing you in advance. Ok, maybe like a pop-up notification. Just a little note with the information beforehand so that the barista didn't have to pull you out of "flow mode" with a necessary new adjective.

I worked for Starbucks for a bit and was always very impressed with the customers that could remember the adjectives in order (few and far between). Buckies has a language, you get it or you don't, but that's why they have translators (baristas). But considering this, most languages don't add new grammar every now and then, it is what it is. Hmmm, brand language > how should a company properly change it?

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