Being predictable: the first essential of a customer centric business

This year marks our tenth anniversary here at Different. Over that time we’ve always tried to stay true to our philosophy that great UX is always grounded in solid research, designed to exceed expectations, and tested thoroughly. But when you use that process, what consistent criteria to you use to define experience?

That question led us to develop the Essentials of Customer Centric Business, and as part of our anniversary celebration we’ve decided to share it with the UX and business community. At first glance it can appear to be just another UX infographic or a version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But, as we will demonstrate, it contains many layers and provides a great deal of practical information for UX practitioners and businesses alike.

This month we’ll start by discussing the first essential: being predictable. Over the next six months we’ll continue across all seven of them here on UX Magazine. It’s our hope that you will find this series as informative and valuable as the essentials have become for us.

Have you ever walked up to a door and grasped the doorknob expecting that familiar turn, click, and open, only to be startled when it did not operate as you expected? Recently a visitor to a hotel described how a closet in his room had a doorknob that looked like it should turn, but did not. Instead the knob was simply screwed in and the door held shut by a magnet. He described how that bothered him and that he never got used to it. Every time he went to use that door it bothered him. Its behavior was unpredictable, both in its lack of intuitiveness and its inconsistency with every other “door experience” he’d ever had.

Well, what is true for doors is also true for a lot of other things. Much of the research conducted by Different shows that many customers are not satisfied with their service providers or with the products that they use because of a lack of predictability.


may think that predictability is a no-brainer, or even boring. But we think it’s underrated. Many organizations large and small lose business as they fail to deliver a predictable experience to their customers. Common examples include inconsistent levels of knowledge among staff, unintuitive products, and poor management of customer expectations.

What Is Predictability In UX?

The immediate temptation we all have is to define predictability in relationship to repetition or consistency, but this is just a part of its meaning. The root word it descends from is the Latin “praedictus,” which translates as “to foretell.” So we must always remember that predictability comes into play during completely new experiences as well as in comparison to previous ones. So in order to apply it correctly we must define it thusly:

“Predictability in UX can be defined as how much a user can successfully foresee the result of an interaction.”

This can involve the meeting or matching of their expectations, whether in an initial experience or a repeat one. Conversely, unpredictability occurs when customers do not know what to expect or they expect something different to what they experience. In the example above, the customer predicted that the door would work as he expected, and then it didn’t. Similarly, online shoppers expect their purchases to be shipped quickly and providers who don’t meet this expectation are unlikely to get repeat business.

However, predictability extends further than these examples.

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Being predictable: the first essential of a customer centric business