Why User Experience is more than just the look & feel of a product

User or customer experience has been a popular topic among all industries since long. Whether you want to buy a new car, kitchen or smartphone, product designers try to please you on all senses in order to trigger purchase desire. But once the customer owns the product, user experience does not stop. And here is where some brands really excel and others not so much.


A few months ago I had purchased an expensive sports bag on wheels. I had no previous experience with that premium brand but liked the layout of the product. In addition, I appreciated the promise of a good service and quality. Although I could not imagine why one would ever need a service for a sports bag, I somehow tried to justify the high price to myself. Obviously, the salesperson did a great job. What happened then?

Recently the handle bar started to slowly break apart with the rubber coming off. The material failure was clearly visible. Not a big issue I thought. Two screws to open, replace the small handle bar, done. So I went back to the store. Customer services explained that this brand requires the whole product being shipped for inspection. Therefore, we sent the entire bag to their head quarter. After a week, the faulty material quality and warranty got confirmed. But unfortunately this bag model was discontinued meanwhile. So the brand offered me three options:

  1. I could get the new bag model but have to pay the price difference of USD 11.- (no joke).
  2. Receive a voucher for my old bag so I can search whether one of their other stores in my city might still hold the old model on stock (instead of them checking their data base, I as the customer was asked to call around and find out).
  3. Get the money back.

The shape of the new bag model was very different and didn't serve my needs unfortunately. But I saw that the old and new model shared the exact same handle. So I asked the headquarter to just replace the handle bar on my old bag. I also offered them to just send me the spare part so I would replace it at home. To my surprise, I was told that this brand only replaces entire products. And ordering a spare part would be too much effort for them I was explained.


What do you think my user experience felt now? Would I still feel the premium price being justified? Especially knowing that most bags come from the same factories? Stitching a brand-label onto a bag can’t be the sole differentiator; there should be more.


Every person and department accountable for user experience should think along the whole product life cycle. Because the experience does not stop once a product is sold. A brand is a promise. And if a brand does not deliver on its promise it leaves a bitter taste. And this does rarely help building brand trust.


Did you ever encounter something similar?  What makes a good user experience for you?


Chris Frey @chrisfrey.com