Some process and contexts are inherently more prone to eliciting shame.

  • Applying for a bank loan. (Read my previous post about this)
  • Applying to receive social security assistance.

We can and should design the user experience to minimise triggering shame in our customers.

We do this by maximising their psychological safety and building trust. The foundation would have to be built on empathy and listening. And this intention can be applied to people-based, technology-based or hybrid processes.

Here’s a quick high level process I made up. What do you think?

process-ux-avoid-shame

Just blindly following a process like this won’t help of course. It will just become hollow wooden parroting. The service reps must still enter into each engagement with an attitude of service, a genuine desire to empathise and help. Likewise the designers creating a system would need to have those attitudes as well.

A much harder challenge would be the prevailing attitude in the organisation. If a bank takes a judgemental attitude to people seeking loans from them, or if a government department thinks all welfare recipients are cheaters, then that attitude will seep into and contaminate the customer experience.