Linking data to user experience

Why are companies so bad at leveraging the data they have at their fingertips in providing a positive user experience?  I am never surprised anymore when I call customer service or tech support for some company and when I get handed from rep to rep (because nobody seems capable of solving my issue) I have to repeat my account number and my entire situation and other details over and over again.  Now I know that when I relayed this information the first time, the person on the other end was typing, since it is very hard to shield that noise from a phone conversation.  Shouldn't that information be available centrally, and travel with me virtually as I go from person to person?  Are some of these people still holding back from using a computer where they could read it off the screen?  I highly doubt it.  When it annoys me the most is when I have to punch in a 16- or 20-digit number while initiating the call, and then I have to punch it in again.  Does your server have severe amnesia?

What triggered this post is that I got an e-mail this morning from J. Crew.  Probably because I ordered from them a year or so ago, and usually I just ignore their e-mails and delete them.  In this case I decided I had had enough of J. Crew's marketing efforts and clicked on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.  This took me to a web page with the title "unsubscribe_emailpreferences" (couldn't they have made that a little more user-friendly?) and with my e-mail address clearly visible in the QueryString.  There is a form in the middle of the page where you are supposed to enter your e-mail address; however, the box for my e-mail address was empty.  I looked up at the QueryString and back at the form and I think I felt a little steam escape from my ears.  How can it be so difficult to link the parameter on the QueryString to the text box in the form?  Hello, Web Programming 101, so happy to meet you.

More importantly, of course, they should have a more obscure way of letting people opt out, otherwise I could just perform a dictionary attack and opt out a vast majority of their user base who actually WANT their e-mails.  I would never, of course, but the fact that they make it easy should illustrate how silly they are being.  Why doesn't the e-mail have a more cryptic identifier for their e-mail address?  Then at least if they are going to make me type my e-mail address anyway, before opting this person out, they could verify in the back end that the identifier passed to the form and the e-mail address match.  Not that e-mail service providers need to worry about NOT opting someone out, but this loop just doesn't seem closed to me…

Aaron Bertrand

I am a passionate technologist with industry experience dating back to Classic ASP and SQL Server 6.5. I am a long-time Microsoft MVP, write at SQLPerformance and MSSQLTips, and have had the honor of speaking at more conferences than I can remember. In non-tech life, I am a father of two, a huge hockey and football fan, and my pronouns are he/him. If I've helped you out, consider thanking me with a coffee. :-)

3 Responses

  1. Jon Crawford says:

    I think it more likely that they just want to make it difficult for you, so you don't unsubscribe, because you get too frustrated to continue.

  2. cinahcaM madA says:

    Maybe the model in the photo developed it while they were getting her hair ready for the shoot?

  3. Uri Dimant says:

    Hi Aaron
    Perhaps they tested with encryped email addresses and it hits performance:-)))