Think back to an experience that surpassed your expectations. Was it an amazing pair of shoes that showed up in a box that felt like Christmas? Or was it when you seamlessly booked an Airbnb and then showed up and the place instantly made you feel at home. Plus, they left you a little welcome treat of wine or dessert that surpassed your expectations?
It is becoming increasingly difficult to exceed your customers’ expectations. I recently went to an event where I saw Eric Feng, founding CTO of Hulu, and he mentioned that companies today must be 50% better than the start-ups from 10-20 years ago. Companies today must exceed the table stakes that the FANGs (Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google) already have in place.
According to Feng, for any company to survive today, you need the 3 Ts: team, timing, and TAM (total addressable market). Once that is achieved, how do you ensure that the product or experience you are creating will resonate?
The answer: by designing for humans. Pixels, code and IT infrastructure will always be there, but it’s the way you make people feel that transforms an ordinary transaction into a story-worthy note in their day.
Here are a few tips:
- Make someone feel emotion beyond satisfying a need.
It could be joy, efficiency, excitement, gratitude, relief – anything above simply meeting expectations. We’re all feeling it. Anxiety and depression are on the rise, as is the uncertainty in the job market, political landscape and economy. No matter your service or product, pay attention to the little moments and make them matter. There is no shortage of opportunities for this.
For example, if you are designing a fintech product where you are asking your customers to give you the better part of their savings, help ease their concern with your product. Create a way for prospects to engage with current customers (yes, real humans) to talk about the real experience. Or maybe you’re a healthcare center and you just delivered tough news to a patient, wouldn’t it make sense to give them a call a few days later to see if they have any questions or just to check in on how they are doing?
As I move from product to service experience in my day-to-day, I can think of countless ways to bring more humanity to the equation–even if that way is just giving someone a reason to smile.
- Physical “nice touches” stand out
The virtual world went mainstream less than 20 years ago. Before that, for approximately 180,000 years, we were physical creatures. We used our senses to touch, smell, see, hear or taste every experience. Now we spend 11 hours per day behind a screen*. Therefore, let’s say you sleep 7 hours a day, that leaves you with a mere 6 hours without devices.
Given that many of today’s and tomorrow’s experiences are rooted in the digital world, how can your product or experience drive more of a bridge to our past? Is it a physical gift near your birthday? Is it a handwritten note? Keeping with the fintech theme, maybe you create a meet-up or event for all of your virtual members of the experience to come together? Or maybe you buy your clients’ lunch for special occasions by sending them a gift box/card to a nearby restaurant.
To truly make an impact, it is best to stimulate all of the senses. And as humans, we prefer to use them. Give us something to interact with, even though the digital experience may be the main experience.
- Give people a reason to talk.
Humans are natural storytellers and listeners. What’s your favorite joke, favorite childhood book and favorite movie? Chances are, you didn’t have issues answering these questions because stories stay with you. They resonate with you and you can retell them because they make a lasting impact. For thousands of years, storytelling was the primary way of communicating information.
To succeed today, give your customers a reason to tell a story about their experience with your brand. They will welcome the opportunity to tell the story at the next company lunch, social dinner or conversation with a friend. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most trusted sources of information and people love to be experts and make recommendations.
How to do this? Solve a problem. Make someone laugh. Go above and beyond when there is an issue. Take the time to really listen to your customers.
*Q1 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report