«Welcome to the Experience Economy.» This is something you hear a lot recently, right? Especially during and after the pandemic, we discovered three main things: 1) many more services than we used to think are not necessarily linked to the physical place where they were usually provided (so many industries switched to a remote-first or remote-friendly setup); 2) but that left us, humans, with a gigantic crave for what we call experience — the experience of dining out, for example. We are still eating food, and we’re still consuming food made by someone else but “it’s not the same thing”; 3) the future of many industries will shift from being service-based (how can I serve a glorious meal in a well-equipped restaurant) to one that is experience-based (how can I serve a glorious culinary experience no matter where or when?). How do you define an experience? To create one, you have to know what an experience is. And that appears to be an impossible question to answer. By definition, an experience is something that cannot be touched, or grasped; it’s more like a sum of sensations. It’s subjective and qualitative. When we say that we experienced a beautiful walk, it is difficult to define precisely which sensations made our walk beautiful. Nevertheless designed experience fulfil our lives. In the last hour, you probably experienced quite a number of experiences that someone designed. Yes, someone designed how you interacted with pretty much anything, in the last hour. And I’m sure that there were some bad ones. The apps we use (and this browser you’re using to read this word), their experience is designed. The route we take at the supermarket. The way we experience web, television, payments, cars, movies, books etc. This was all by Design. So, despite the difficulty to define what really an experience is, we can all agree that it is something that can be well thought, well planned, scaled, and executed (or the contrary). You know — I’m sure — on your skin that totalling sensation of being immersed into a piece of existence carefully crafted, one that effectively solves a problem or provide value to your life. How do they do that? And, more importantly, how can you do that? How can we make people live a piece of a business, a brand, your product, your service? Some moments… matter. An experience is made of moments. But not every moment is born equal. There are moments that matter and others that don’t. Necessarily. The difference between those two is far from arbitrary. Instead, it is strictly dependent on what you’re offering, how, when, where and why. To discern which moments matter in your customers’ experience — and which ones are complementary or even unnecessary — is the single activity that can turbocharge your value proposition, 100x. In today’s (and future’s) economy, building a chain of moments that matter that is relevant to your customers is the best, proven strategy to build opportunities and change the relationships you have with them. Therefore, a chain of moments that matter IS the experience. Like every chain, if you remove just one link, it is no longer a chain. And, like every chain, the quality of the experience is as good as the weakest link. What is a moment that matters? A (quite extreme) example. Every moment in which your customer exhales is not necessarily critical if you’re designing a car licence renewal service. Quality of air is a standard in many countries, so it’s not really something you can tweak (but it certainly something you can, to some extent, enhance it). Exhaling can suddenly become a moment that matter when what you’re trying to do is making your customer exhale loudly, almost gasping for air: for example if you’re trying to scare him (an escape room game, for example, or a rollercoaster). Exhaling can be THE moment that matter, if — for example — meditation is what you provide as a service. Then every breath counts, and all the rest is background. How can you design better moments that matter? You have to get out on the field and try to know exactly what happens in your experience, before trying to map every event in the chain. When placed on a map (that is also a timeline of any interaction between the customer and the brand/business/provider) it will become suddenly clear which moment really matters and which don’t: moments that matter cannot be touched without gravely affecting the experience itself. And keep in mind that an experience can start many minutes (or even hours, or days) before a customer enters your store (with an ad, or a sign, or a website, for example) and can end long time after the payment (with a return, for example). Keep also in mind that moments that matter can “hide” across multiple touchpoints, channels, and involve different senses. Try to insert all these relevant pieces of information on the map: they can be useful to know what needs to be changed and how. Once you have all the moments defined across these multiple dimensions (spatial, temporal, channels), you can start designing how to improve them towards the sole goal that is worth pursuing — your customer’s mission. But this is not just a business ‘thing’. Revenues, conversions and KPIs tell only a part of the story. When you’re making someone live your business, a few of these moments will stay in the customer’s mind indefinitely. Some of them (for bad and for good) will define his or hers gut feeling for the day, and for sure they will define their gut feeling for next time he or she will encounter your brand. «Don’t be evil» is not enough. Be. Responsible.
Is it a difficult job? Yes, it is. Plus: this is a neverending job. When customers change, or technology change, or the cultural climate change, your experience has to change. (No more free food on an en-plein-air plate during a pandemic, please!). But that’s what we signed for when we started a business: «Good work, done well, for the right reasons» Bonus: Try to include an upbeat moment in every redesign: something the customer didn’t expressly request. That can be the difference between a good experience and a delightful one.
Lato is an Italian Benefit Corp obsessed with delivering great Customer Experiences that serve profits, people and the planet. We help businesses build better experiences by helping them understand more about their customers. We leverage that knowledge for a greater good with the help of the most advanced technologies available. Learn more about this series by clicking this. Visit our website by clicking this.