2016: Make it about delivering experiences over building product
- ‘Zappos’ broke it’s own personal record for longest customer service phone call with a conversation that lasted 10 hours, and that wasn’t even about helping with a support problem1.
- Apple, a computer manufacturer who is not a retailer has hundreds of stores, where people can learn about apple product, engage with them and get help if needed.
- Walt Disney, a mass media company, runs profitable theme park businesses, DisneyLand and DisneyWorld.
- ‘Uber’ and ‘Lyft’ are sweeping away the taxi service industry from foot.
Just like any companies, these companies also deliver product or services. But, they all have one thing in common that most companies don’t. They deliver more than product and services, they elicit and amplify emotions and delivers experiences.
Industry is transforming to an experience based economy
Good and services are no longer enough for consumers, customers want value from positive, engaging, memorable experiences along with high quality goods and services. - Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, Experience Economy2
In the beginning of economy, commodities like mineral, vegetable and animals were the predominant economic offering. As the industrial revolution set in, we then shifted from extracting commodities to processing it and manufacturing goods. Soon enough goods were customized to become services.
And now the services are being commoditized to stage positive and engaging memorable experiences. We are in the economy of Experiences.
Customers expects to be positively and emotionally impacted and have experiences
This Experience economy connects well with the Maslow’s Hierarchy. While we mostly hear about what’s wrong in the world, the fact is: world is getting better, safer with lesser people below the poverty line than ever before. People are more contented than ever before. Putting it another way, our survival needs (physiological, safety and love/belonging) are met, the bottom part of the Maslow’s Hierarchy is fulfilled and we are living a contented life.
Now we are looking to enhance lives by fulfilling the top layer (esteem and self-actualization) through experiences. Aaron Walter (author of Designing for Emotion) transformed this Maslow Hierarchy of Human Needs into needs of user. In the exact way (how a person can live a contented life having the bottom hierarchy of needs met but it’s on the top where a person lives a fulfilled life), a product being functional, reliable and usable are merely enough, providing “Experiences” is what builds a sustainable company.
Aaron Walter: Emotional Interface Design: The Gateway to Passionate Users 3
For example, Taxis are perfectly functional, reliable and usable but cannot compete with “Uber” and “Lyft” that delivers “experiences”, a memorable one and builds a long-lasting relationship. Taxis are service industry, “Uber” and “Lyft” in the “experience” industry. It’s not just about products anymore, it’s about delivering experiences. Customers today expects to be positively and emotionally impacted and have experiences. In the next section we will briefly look at how companies can build emotions to elicit experiences.
People put Harley Davidson logo on their body to say something about who they are. Corporate logo. Ain’t no Procter and Gamble tattoo on anybody’s arm[..] People put that tattoo not to say they own a motorcycle, they put the tattoo there to tell you something about themselves. What you have the ability to do is as designers is to create those symbols and allow people to use those things to say something about who they are. - Simon Sinek, If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business4
Experience trumps product and service you deliver
We have moved from the point where our basic needs are met. It’s no longer sufficient to create products that’s merely functional, product needs to deliver experiences. However as product owners we spends so much time on building product and analytics and very little time understanding users. After all, being “data-driven” is trendy.
However, ‘graphs and charts’ approach leads to valuing numbers over people from whom the numbers are collected. This is a problem I feel strongly and that’s why I cofounded UXCam — a tool to find and fix UX issues on mobile apps.
The experience you create for your users trumps the product and service you provide. Let’s start the new year with this in mind :)