T&E Software That's Useful, Usable and... Delightful?

It's safe to say that listening to a favorite song on your iPod can be delightful. Reading a book on a Kindle certainly is enjoyable. But is it really possible to put mundane tasks like entering expense reports or searching for travel in the same category as listening to music or reading? That's exactly the mission of Concur's User Experience team—to make a product that people want to use by surprising them with features and experiences that they never thought to ask for or ever dreamed were possible.


A Face Behind Each Feature

Features and functionality in any product all start with an idea. But taking an idea from its early stages and crafting it into a useful product that people love to use, without making it overly complex or losing sight of the original thought, takes a different level of skill and care. At Concur, before an idea gets turned into 1s and 0s, our user experience team puts a face or "persona" behind each feature. The persona reflects a user for the particular function including their motivation for using it and how they expect it to work. The persona might be a power user or "Road Warrior," an infrequent traveler or simply an expense report filer. Each designer analyzes how the persona would use the product and checks their assumptions by conducting real world tests with actual users.

Beyond Useful and Usable to Delightful

To create a surprising experience, you have to start by making the product more usable and intuitive and "work your way into delightful," according to Robb Nielsen, who leads Concur's user experience team. It's not easy with a service that people don't necessarily like to use. "Few people really enjoy searching for travel and fewer still find joy in completing an expense report," says Nielsen. "If we can make the product so useful to you that you have a desire to use it, if we can create experiences that makes users unable to turn away and causes them to ask 'Why doesn't other software work this way?', then we've accomplished our mission."

How do you truly delight customers in a world where apps are downloaded and either used or abandoned within the first 30 seconds of use? Through personalization, prediction and automation. According to Nielsen, here's what that could look like for Concur users in the future:


Personalize: The product should only show the relevant information in the right context for YOU. If the system knows you always use a gym when you stay in a hotel (and that you're willing to pay extra for a hotel that has one if necessary), you should only see hotels that have a gym when booking.

Predict: Let's say you're booking a trip. You should be able to see that other people in your company have stayed where you're planning to stay and see the ratings they've given. Their opinion is more valuable to you than an average social review because this is somebody you know and trust in your own business. Or, what if the system knew of other people that were traveling to the same destination you are headed and suggested you meet up with them because it knows that you've recently met based on an Outlook appointment in your calendar? Useful? Yes. Unexpected? Absolutely.

Automation: Automation is all about identifying what the user does repeatedly and taking it out of the equation. For example, if the system sees that you're a frequent traveler and you drive to the airport and log miles, it should recognize that pattern and automatically add those miles to your expense report. If you always fly on a particular airline for loyalty miles or other reasons, the system should sort the flights based on your past behavior.


Join in

If you'd like to participate in Concur's future usability research, add yourself into our research participant group. How? Simply by using the product survey at the end of travel booking and expense report submissions processes.

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