In my last trip to Germany I decided to purchase finally a prepaid SIM card for my handheld. Since, I travel often to the country, it only sounded natural to me. So, I went in the first shop that was open on a Sunday (e-Plus was my luck) and got one. What I didn’t realize was that I was in for a trip, that if I knew in advance, I wouldn’t probably like to take.
I was assured by the shopping assistant that in 30 to 60 minutes I will have a working number that I can use for phone calls. Well, since I was exploring Berlin, I only got to this when I only got to check it out at my friend’s place. The SIM card was working alright, but when I attempted to call my other phone and see what my number is, there was this voice explaining in German something. I asked my friend to translate and she told me that I need to enter some code. The problem was that I couldn’t find any code in the documents. Then, she looked in the brochure that goes along with the card and she told me to go online and register…
So, I go on the website of the provider and start filling out the form. Apparently only German citizens were allowed to fill the form (so much for thinking out of the box). I went creative and typed any 5 digit number for the postal code. Turns out, I was living in Düsseldorf. What a shock!
Anyways, I got my email right and hoped I will receive the infamous code that will allow me to use the SIM card finally. Three hours later there was still no email and I decided to go to sleep, thinking when I wake up next morning, I would have the code already in my mailbox. Unfortunately, there was no message from the e-Plus. And we decided to call the service center and get some help.
On the call, a lady explained that I need to think of a 4-7 digit number as per my choosing and enter it the first time I try to make a call. The question is why this was not explained in the SIM card accompanying documents and moreover why my friend, who is a German native, was not able to understand the instructions I was getting on my phone. So much for good service design!
The whole purpose for getting a prepaid card is to get a number quick and dirty. In most cases the user will be a student, unprivileged citizen, international businessman or simply a tourist. So immediately few questions come to my mind:
- Why the whole process of starting up the service is so complicated?
- Why there are no clear instructions in the accompanying documents?
- Why there is no English or any other foreign language messaging or customer service available?
- Did the person(s) that designed this user experience actually ever did tests or surveys on usability?
- Am I going to continue using e-Plus’ service after I consume all my credit on the SIM card?
The answer to last question is definitely NO. And it is not because I am picky, but because I like simple things to remain as such and hustle free. It is just ridiculous and I am not liking the service design, the bad UX that I got and the fact that someone is not considerate enough.
So, here are my two cents on how to avoid situations like this:
- Give appropriate instructions in the accompanying documents!
- Keep it simple and straight, so idiots like me would understand right on the spot and not needing to consult the toll-free Customer Service Department!
- If you are operating in a very touristy and international city, make sure that you will give multilingual options! Not everyone speaks your language!
- When you are designing your service process, make sure that every step is carefully researched and based on how the customer that had no idea previously is using it!
- Keep on trying to make the user experience better and better! Simplicity is a key milestone here.
Anyone had the same experience? Would you suggest more steps on making the e-Plus’ prepaid service better?
Logo source: www.eplus.de
Copyright © 2011 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.