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Coinstar is a great example of this.

The machine is able to calculate the total change deposited almost instantly. Yet, during testing the company learned that consumers did not trust the machines. Customers though it was impossible for a machine to count change accurately at such a high rate.

Faced with the issues of trust and preconceived expectations of necessary effort, the company began to rework the user experience.

The solution was fairly simple. The machine still counted at the same pace but displayed the results at a significantly slower rate. In fact, the sound of change working the way through the machine is just a recording that is played through a speaker.

Altering the user experience to match expectations created trust and met the customers expectation of the necessary effort to complete the task.

Interesting. I always found those machines to be annoyingly slow and loud.

My theory with money: the less your customer has, the more important appearances are. Go to your local bank and look at how nicely dressed the tellers that are cashing grandma's $20 check, and then go to their trading floor and look at the traders that are trading millions of dollars a day.

In the case of Coinstar, every penny is important to the customer, even though a penny is worth approximately nothing. (And of course, they take 10% anyway, so their incentive is to over-count, not under-count, but I digress...)

No, the incentive would be for them to undercount as the money still ends up in the machine. $10 in the machine counted as $10 nets $1 in profit. $10 in the machine counted as $9 nets $1.90 in profit.

This would kill their business as TV news programs would show counting the money before it went into the machine and how much the machine claimed was counted. The fees that Coinstar rakes in are enough to ensure a great profit margin without actually stooping to miscounting coins.

Yeah, you're right; my logic is flawed. You insert $100 of coins, it says, "no coins inserted, try again". Instant profit :)

When you get a gift card from Coinstar, you are not charged the 10%. So when I'm feeling lazy with a bunch of change, I just dump it in the Coinstar machine for a Amazon gift card

Interestingly, the Coinstar machine that I use is in a grocery store, and it will give you free gift certificates for that store. I am not sure who would not choose that :)

This is an interesting definition of 'free', since you have to pay for it.

I read once that you could request a gift card and unplug the machine's phone line, causing it to give you the full cash value.


I never knew this. Of course, they are just charging Amazon the 10%, and ultimately this gets passed back to the consumer (though much diluted).

> My theory with money: the less your customer has, the more important appearances are.

Your specific example may have more to do with proximity to the customer.

I don't think it relates to the amount of money, but about gaining trust. People are more willing to trust someone with their money if they look professional, thus the tellers wearing suits and the fancy lobbies in banks. The traders don't need to gain anyone's trust, so there is no incentive. Similarly, the secretaries and PR people at the software company I work for wear suits, while the programmers wear jeans and a t-shirt.

Not necessarily the best examples - traders who are trading millions of dollars a day may be living in a flat with no furniture and be in debt up to their eyeballs. Just because they are trading other people's money a lot doesn't necessarily mean they're in the black.

I didn't say they were. I just said they don't wear suits to work, and then implied that their work is more important to the bank (in terms of raw money-per-transaction) than the nicer-dressing tellers.

Interesting. I always found those machines to be annoyingly slow and loud.

Me too. I always found it bizarre that they're so slow. The OP would certainly explain things.

I attended a "Redesigning Blogger" workshop in 2004, when Jeff Veen at Adaptive Path and Douglas Bowman (of stopdesign.com, now with Twitter) talked about their experiences redesigning Blogger.

One of the things they found in user testing was that when new users clicked "Create my Blog" on the last step of the setup process, they were confused at how quickly their blog was created. "That's it? Is something wrong?" were the types of things people said.

So they added an interstitial "Creating your blog..." type page that did nothing but spin a little animated gif and wait a few seconds before sending new users to the "Yay, your blog is created! page". Users were far more satisfied with the new experience that took longer.

The next logical step would be to charge a little extra for the machine to operate in "Ultra-fast sorting mode", whereby all the built-in delays are removed.

I wonder, as robots accomplish more and more of our daily tasks at super human speeds if we will also have to slow them down to reduce creepiness levels.

This seems very likely. The first example that sprung to mind (I don't know why) was a robot card dealer. I imagined it shuffling and dealing the cards in the blink of an eye, and my immediate emotional response is creepy and untrustworthy. Interesting.

Interesting. Have you got a source for this?

The story comes from a friend who was involved in the project. If you have any specific questions I would be happy to ask them on your behalf.

A quick google search returned a news item posted on the corporate website of Coinstar which claims the machine processes 600 coins per minute. They also have some general information about customer behavior on the page as well. http://www.coinstar.com/us/WebDocs/A3-2-2

I worked at a McDonalds where they had a machine to count the coins in the cash drawers. It was very quick, but not as fast as the larger machine the bank used. This was 25 years ago and I would not imagine they have gotten slower.

It was also quite expensive, but it saved minutes counting down a drawer at the end of a cashier's shift, and probably paid for itself in labor rather quickly (the cashier did not clock out until the drawer was counted).

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