How Use Cases Lead to a Customer Friendly Organizations - Montana Webmaster

How Use Cases Lead to a Customer Friendly Organizations

What is a Use Case?

On any given day, each person who interacts with a business or organization represents a different use case, or several use cases,  in that each needs a different mix of services and accommodations. Within the pile of individual needs, general needs can be grouped into use cases that will lead to better customer service  over-all.

One of the benefits of considering use cases is that you retain customers and acquire new customers because you understand their needs. Every organization operates within economic, regulatory and other constraints. The goal of use cases is to minimize the effect of those restraints on potential customers.

In the technical world, a use case involves following the flow of how a person might work through a system. For the purpose of this article, we will look at how a system may fail specific users.

How Encompassing Should a Use Case Be?

It depends. I’ve been reading articles about Use Cases, and it seems to me that they should be more granular. But, how fine tuned the use case should be will depend on the project.

Use Case Example 1

Photo of tractor and trailer leaving warehouseOne example I saw, “A driver is looking to get from Boston to New York City. “

When I see that, I think:

  1. Is it a semi?
  2. Is it a semi with 2 trailers? (can’t go on some roads)
  3. Is it a refrigerated semi (critical delivery time)
  4. Is it a motorcycle? (road construction is a major danger)
  5. Is it rush hour combined with any of the above?

But, when I discussed this issue with a contact, he said, “What if the use case is that you are working on an app that tracks the location of a vehicle, and the type of business is irrelevant?” That reminds me that the use case is relevant to both the scenario for the business service and how a viewer will use the service.

Use Case Example 2

A second example I saw, “Individuals can use an app to place food orders directly to restaurants.”

When I see that, I immediately wonder what the definition of an individual is. Assuming that individual is a human,

  1. Does the individual have a disability
  2. Is the individual required to speak a specific language

Is further refinement of the use case necessary or overkill?

My Examples of Use Cases

  1. A small, regional airline has passengers who only have experience with major airlines.
  2. A restaurant hosts bands, but there are patrons who want to have a family dinner with conversation.
  3. Package theft

Use Case: Users with a Different Understanding

In the case of the regional airline, their website content, their signs, and their emails didn’t make much sense because of gaps in understanding that their process is different from major airlines. Any user whose only experience is with major airlines could actually miss their flight due not realizing the situation is different.

Here are some of the problems I encountered, as a user who is only familiar with major airlines:

  1. I couldn’t confirm my flight either through Travelocity or the airline website.
  2. I couldn’t find contact information to ask if my ticket was confirmed because the website was so poorly constructed. When I did finally find a phone number, I was surprised at the good quality of the support.
  3. When I arrived at the airport counter, it was closed. It turns out that they only man the counter 2 hours before the flight. Due to earlier problems finding a contact, I missed lunch to wait for someone to arrive.
  4. There was no notice that there are no overhead bins. I had a computer bag and a carry-on.

Meeting the Needs of this Use Case

A page, an email and other communication titled “How Our Experience Is Different from a Major Airline” would have been helpful. Also, prominent placement of a phone number would have started the process on a high note, instead of a low note.

Use Case: The Local Band vs. Dinner with Conversation

Users have more than one goal in using your product or service. And, when you change your product or service in response to a complaint or a new market opportunity, you should consider whether those changes will affect the markets you already have. It would seem that the main purpose of a restaurant is to eat. But, other use cases come into conflict when a restaurant has a very loud local band and your end goal is to get the 90+ year old relative out of the house for dinner.

The use case here is: users who would like to have a dinner with pleasant conversation. To have conversation, you have to be able to hear the conversation. And, for most people, that means having a conversation without shouting. This is important enough that some review sites even have a field for the noise level of a restaurant. The likelihood that we will return to that restaurant are slim. Even if there are just 2 of us, we don’t want to sit in silence.

Meeting the Needs of this Use Case

Put the band in an area of the restaurant where the sound can be controlled. Double check that someone can have a conversation in another part of the restaurant or have the band turn the volume down. If that use case cannot be met, at least put up a banner outside that advertises the band and let potential patrons make their own choice.

Use Case: Order Delivery in the World of  Package Theft

It doesn’t matter how good your product is. If the package is stolen at the end of delivery, there is no product, only hassle for both end points.

An Organization that Considers Use Cases

I was pleasantly surprised to find that StackOverflow considers use cases in the design of their website. (See comment at the bottom of the screenshot.) They recognize when a user problem is outside of the use cases they have considered.

This rolls back to the question above, “How fine tuned should your use cases be?” If this is a one-off situation, should they make changes to accommodate it?

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