Thursday, 11 September 2008

Customer Centricity: The Basics Are Not Always Enough (Part 2)

Following on from Part 1, the principle of recognising that value-adds become basic needs in mature markets applies even if you're a big brand entering a new space. Lets use Google's new browser Chrome as an example.

Google Chrome Logo

It's simple, fast and neat and provides all the basic browsing capability that it needs to, but I bet Google didn't do any Voice of the Customer analysis around lay users before release. If they had, they would've realised that a host of conveniences they haven't included are now considered as basic functionality.

They'd have known that their early adopters outside the tech-community would be young to mid-adult. People who use Gmail and Facebook and Hotmail and Yahoo and Youtube and, and have grown used to toolbars that connect them directly to the sites they visit often. Chrome is not yet compatible with any toolbars, so it misses all those conveniences that your average Joe is used to. Even worse, Hotmail asks you to upgrade your browser and Facebook's edit and auto update features don't work perfectly - these small things are major barriers when they affect core browsing activity. Many will also just be irrationally (?) worried about their browsing habits being monitored to learn more about them to help Google's targeted advertising, and nothing in the user experience or messaging does anything to alleviate this.

Point being that most of the people who get past the privacy issue and then bother to download the browser will find that it lacks the 'basics' and thus provides no compelling reason for learning a new interface. The hype is great. Many will download it. This could have been a fantastic opportunity for Google, but I suspect most people will go straight back to the browser they use - probably IE, resulting in Google having to come back and do a whole lot more work to drive take-up, and thus in them missing out on a golden opportunity to get the jump on Microsoft in their main domain, i.e. the desktop.