It was a personal milestone…a triumph of medical technology…a miracle worth the trials and tribulations of becoming COVID-19 vaccinated in February. Reflecting on my experience, there are four important lessons worth sharing about the power of communication to impact the user experience.

Challenge #1: The battle for an appointment                                           

News of new available postings set off an avalanche of response the website and hotline were unable to handle. After emerging victorious with an appointment, I felt extreme relief along with sympathy for those who were either slower on the draw or ill-equipped to navigate the registration gauntlet. There was a pang of guilt as well.

Moral: Give your audience response avenues that create a positive user experience.

Challenge #2: Pre-appointment anxiety                                                        

In the 5 days leading up to vax day, I mustered up a mixture of fear, relief, and a bit of skepticism that somehow something could go wrong. And then it happened. The confirmation email and the website displaying vax sites didn’t match. My date was not listed, but the day before my scheduled vaccine was listed. The hotline representative suggested I cover my bases and drive 45 minutes the day before. She arrived at that suggestion when she Googled the location and searched for COVID-19 vaccine and saw no matches.

Although I knew deep down this trip was doomed, a voice in my brain convinced me to try. The first line of defense at the vax site door inspected my confirmation and told me to come back the next day. I cajoled, begged, and shared the screen shot I had taken as proof that my date was missing—all to no avail. I asked one of the staff to sign my confirmation that the site would be giving vaccines (or he would have to forfeit his first born). I couldn’t tell if he was smiling underneath the mask.

Moral: Inconsistent communication is confusing and fosters distrust.

Challenge #3: Uncertainty stokes fear                                                       

The flurry of media reports about dwindling vaccine supplies, no Federal stockpile, and unknown protection against new, more virulent strains stoked uncertainty prior to my vax day. I thought about the front-line medical workers who were averse to being vaccinated. Perhaps they were deterred by reports about adverse reactions in addition to all the news I had been following.

Moral: Conflicting information prevents action.

Challenge #4: Instill confidence with a positive user experience.     

Despite the previous mishaps, when I entered the vaccination site on my confirmed day, my anxiety quickly melted thanks to a well-trained staff. I quickly moved from the greeter who checked my confirmation document to the person who handed me an official vax card to the computer attendant who entered me into the vaccine system to the nurse who administered the vaccine. Each person confirmed my name, birthdate, and that I had no previous COVID vaccine or current COVID symptoms. Their calm, reassuring tone rebuilt my trust.

Moral: Positive personal communication can rebuild trust.