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“Out-of-box experience” is a business term that refers to a consumer’s first impressions of a product the moment that product is first opened up out of its box. The term is most commonly associated with the computer and software technology industries but can apply to any consumer-facing sales. An out-of-box experience, or OOBE as is it is commonly called, starts with simple aesthetics — particularly how easy the product is to remove from its packaging, and how professional it looks — and extends to basic usage. A positive OOBE means that consumers were able to make the product work with a minimal amount of stress and frustration.
Companies are increasingly focusing on products’ out-of-box experience, both as a way to promote their brand and sell products as well as a means of lowering costs in the long run. It is not uncommon for manufacturers to hire marketing specialists and dedicated design teams to focus exclusively on the OOBE for a certain line of products. Out-of-box experience design usually considers everything from the tightness of shrink wrap to the size and responsiveness of the power button on the device inside.
Consumers who purchase products that they cannot open, cannot use, or cannot make work often get frustrated. This is particularly true with computers and Internet accessories. If a purchaser has a difficult time getting a new laptop computer set up, for instance, or if he finds the licensing agreements and installation wizards on a software program confusing or tedious, he is likely to have a negative impression of the brand. He may complain about the product to friends and may avoid making purchases from that brand again. Consumers often refer to these frustrations with the term “out-of-box failure.”
Depending on the problem, a consumer may also call for technical support or return the product outright. Both of these options cost the manufacturer. Staffing competent customer service professionals is not often an easy feat, for one thing. Processing returns is not inexpensive, either, particularly when there is nothing actually wrong with the item. Companies often seek to mitigate unnecessary costs in these areas by investing in the out-of-box experience at the front end.
Re-wording instruction manuals to make them clear and improving the compatibility standards of electronics generally requires a bit of capital upfront. Improving the interaction design of goods usually leads to a more positive out-of-box experience, however, and better human-computer interaction. It is often difficult to put a price on customer satisfaction, but companies are increasingly making the investment.
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