It’s easy to think of experiences as fleeting things, moments. They definitely can be for your customers. But for businesses, they are not. They are the result of an on-going, long-term effort to invite your customers to spend meaningful time with you. Hence the need to get the longitude, consistency and effort in from the off. Experiences hit the mark for no other reason than by design.
I read a great post by Tom Roach from BBH recently. He made the point that within your customer experience map you should look to identify the key moments that are valuable for your customer and focus on effort on differentiating them. The other moments simply need to reach a ‘good enough’ benchmark.
The common trap that brands fall into is focussing on incrementally making each moment of the customer experience better. Ultimately this approach makes it difficult to sufficiently differentiate as you end up trying to do everything, so struggle to make the impact on growth.
As Porter said:
“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
What makes up a great customer experience?
Once the context is clear, it’s time to consider the key ingredients for a differentiating customer experience. For me, it’s five things: together I’m calling them the Experience Tower.
So, the five floors of the tower are:
1) The Moment
The foundation is the moment the experience takes place in. If you can understand the moment a customer is in, you'll know how to wrap an experience around them.
Think about the time – how long is the moment, how much time do they have. How is public the moment - are they on their own, in a social situation? Are they part of a crowd? Where are they? In a comfortable place they know, or out and about?
2) The Activity
What do they need to do? What's the verb at the heart of the experience.
If the experience is passive, question its validity. The more passive, the less connected to the experience, it becomes a secondary or tertiary experience.
3) The Feeling
I recommend OCEAN to frame how you analyse how your customers are feeling. Move beyond just positive of negative emotions, or heightened feeling. Be more descriptive. Understand why they are feeling that way and how you want them to feel along the experience. Happy, sad, disgusted, full of fear, etc. need to be considered.
4) The Choice
This is a big one. An experience presents a choice, a decision. Often, the main decision gets clouded by other pointless distracting decisions that exist, mainly through lack of thinking deeply about what your customer needs in that moment.
It’s where simplicity really comes in from a customer perspective. Strip away as many micro-decisions as possible so you’re left with the essence.
Consideration should also focus on whether the decision needs to be System 1 or 2, quick, gut decision or a more analytical one. If you’re resetting a common decision made in your market then a behaviour change angle needs to come in too.
5) The Memory
Novel things are memorable. If we’re surprised by something we remember it. Stories construct the novel and present them in ways that our minds can comprehend and remember.
That’s the EXPERIENCE TOWER. I admit the Experience Tower™ © is over-blown as a term. It almost goes without saying that none of this is possible without involving your customers in the development of it. If ‘a house is machine for living in’ and we’re building a tower, people need to be at the centre of its construction.
BUILD ONE, start one. And over time it will become a strategic asset for your presence in the market, that moves you beyond simply telling people stuff, communicating at them, to a place where people are emotionally invested in what you're trying to do. Your customers might end up believing in you.