Several years ago, our financial advisor and good friend began talking to us about retirement planning, college savings for our infant daughter, and the importance of life insurance. He said, “It’s not cheap, but you need to do it.” He advised us on the company to choose, began the paperwork, and told us how to continue the application process. Of course, I didn’t look forward to taking on the cost or the administrivia of applying for life insurance. “You’ll need to answer questions about your income and health and have physicals,” our friend told us. Nevertheless, there was something oddly fulfilling about applying. Life insurance isn’t a fun topic or process, but it represented a milestone in our lives. With a family, I was ready to think about someone other than myself.
The Emotional Side of Life Insurance
The woman processing our application was perfectly nice and professional. Some of the questions she asked caused some anxiety and made me feel defensive—those about drinking and exercise. Others, I answered proudly—no smoking, good eating. However, I wasn’t prepared for one question: “Are your parents alive or deceased?” My dad had passed away a few months earlier. I felt my renowned ability to contain my emotions start to waiver. She expressed her sympathy and asked the reason. I answered, “pancreatic cancer,” and started crying, then apologized, saying it was still recent so I hadn’t gotten used to talking about it. She was very patient, then we continued with the questions. Read More
Each of the states in the U.S. has a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that is responsible for handling diverse citizen needs such as personal identity cards, driving permits and licenses, and registrations for vehicles such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, and boats—both commercial and personal. One of the most common interactions between people and their government is with their DMV. Everyone has to interact with the DMV at some point in his life and, more than likely, these interactions occur annually—whether for registration renewals or violations, if you drive like me.
What’s notable about the DMV is that people across the U.S. think it’s one of the most miserable customer experiences they’ve encountered. When you tell someone, “I have to go to the DMV,” the response is universally, “Oh, long groan, I’m so sorry…” and an empathetic pat on your shoulder. Few things cause a citizen more angst than preparing for a visit to the DMV. No matter how sure you are that you have got the right paperwork, have followed the right process, and have brought the right means of payment, you always have this nagging feeling that something will go wrong. While you might think that adding the human element to the experience—DMV employees—would conjure up a feeling of relief, the opposite is actually the case. You’d likely approach an employee of the DMV in much the same way Dorothy approaches the scary Wizard of Oz—with timidity, apologizing all the while, and being prepared to be yelled at. Read More
If you’re like me, you have a mini-library of those user experience books that are most meaningful to you. No, not the ones hidden away on your eReader, reminding you of their presence only when you see their titles on the screen. Rather, I’m referring to those tangible books, sitting on your office bookshelf or on a side table at home. Perhaps some remind you of the time when you first entered the field of user experience, wanting to absorb everything about the topic. Or maybe everyone raves about a book as being seminal to the user experience discipline, but you keep the fact that you’ve never read it a secret. Regardless of why you have them, where they live, or how much you recall of their content, these books are important to who you are as a UX professional.
I’ve recently finished reading what is now the latest addition to my own professional mini-library: This Is Service Design Thinking, by Marc Stickdorn, Jakob Schneider, and numerous collaborators and co-authors. This book is likely to become the quintessential service design textbook for students, educators, and professionals alike. In this column, I’ll share highlights from the book, along with some of my own interpretations, and tell you why you should add this book to your own personal collection. Read More