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The three factors reinventing customer experience design

8th Jul 2015

The importance of looking at things from the customer’s perspective rather than the company’s is a critical element that many companies forget when starting to improve their customer experience. However, there is growing evidence that overly-focusing on the customer during experience design can be every bit as much a problem as not focusing on them at all.

Experience design is a relatively new discipline that is undergoing rapid evolution, driven in large part by the recent involvement of trained service designers. Their involvement has generated new best-practices that resolve the over-focus on customer problems and significantly improve the customer experience.

Focus on customer jobs NOT on customer personas

Customers don’t interact with companies to help pass the time, they do so to get help getting important jobs done better than they could do them by themselves. It makes more sense to concentrate on what customers are trying to do, on the outcomes they want from doing them and where they need help the most, than on customer personas.

This is not the only problem of focusing on customer personas. Customers who may look identical on the surface may have very different perspectives on which jobs are the most important and where they need the most help doing them. Once customer jobs have been identified they can be used to segment customers by their jobs.

Best practice in experience design today is to look beyond superficial segmentation by customer personas and to segment by customer jobs instead. This not only focuses the experience designer on what the customer is trying to do, research by Strategyn shows it also provides a significantly better foundation for experience design.

Focus on customer decision journeys NOT on interactions

When customers interact with companies to get their jobs done it usually requires a series of closely related interactions for customers to get all the outcomes they want. The interactions typically are between the customer and the same people, take place through the same channels and are closely spaced together in time, in what McKinsey christened a ‘decision journey’. It makes more sense to focus on the series of closely related interactions in the decision journey than on the individual interactions.

Best practice in experience design today is to identify the decision journey(s) that are involved in getting a customer's jobs done. This not only focuses the experience designer on how the customer gets the outcomes they want, research by McKinsey shows that focusing on decision journeys produces a 20-30% bigger increase in business outcomes and a 30-40% bigger increase on customer satisfaction than focusing on interactions. 

Focus on customer decisions NOT on emotions

Interactions between the customer and the company typically require customers to make one or more core decisions. Sometimes quite complicated ones. Although customers make most trivial decisions driven largely by their subconscious emotions, (neuroscientist Antonio Damasio estimates that 95% of all trivial decisions are made this way), they make most of the core ones consciously by thinking through them, particularly the more complicated ones.

It makes more sense to focus on core decisions and how customers make them, than to focus on the emotions that only play a subordinate role in making them. Focusing on decisions also provides the designer with the insight required to provide the right decision support to help customers make better decisions.

Best practice in experience design today is to identify the key decisions that customers make to do their jobs and provide the right decision support to help customers make the decisions better. This not only focuses the experience designer on the critical decisions in the customer experience, research by Glen L, Urban and Fareena Soltan shows that providing customers with just the right support to make better decisions increased engagement, trust and consideration by 25%. 

None of these best practices change the critical importance of looking at things from the customer’s perspective, but they do provide the experience designer with newer and better tools to improve the customer experience.

Please feel free to share your own perspective on best-practices in experience design.

Dr. Graham Hill is a partner at Optima Partners.

Replies (16)

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
08th Jul 2015 10:19

Thierry de Baillon raised an interesting question.

I am thinking about the decisions vs emotions part. In an ideal world, customers would be able to apply critical thinking to their important decision making, but we all know this isn't the case, and emotions are often biasing their lens on the world.

While getting beyond these emotions is key, I also believe that to be able to give them the needed support, we also need to understand what these biases are and take them into account when trying to design better experiences.

I agree with Thierry entirely. Emotions are ever-present as an evolutionary device to simplify decision making. If we had to think about every decision we would likely fail to even get out of bed in the morning.

Emotions are obviously important to the experience designer as a post-interaction guide to how the customer feels. I typically capture customer emotions using a standard emotions framework such as Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion.

Although emotions are ever-present in the customer’s life, most critical decisions require them to actively think. Should I take the cinema vouchers with my packaged current account or the health club membership? Should I lease my car over 24 months or 36? Should I buy the iPhone 6 or the Samsung S6? These decisions all require the customer to think rather than feel, (although the iPhone vs Samsung one is a little more balanced).

The key thing is not to start with emotions, but to start with the decisions customers must make to get their jobs done during interactions with the company. Once you have mapped the decisions, you can then start to think about how to design better decision support for customers that incorporates everything we know from the decision sciences, behavioural economics and psychology. It is not that emotions do not play a role, just that they are not the place to start.

I have been involved in a lot of experience and service design projects. It is rare that designers explicitly capture customer decisions and use the insights to design better decision support into interactions. Yet failure to make good decisions during interactions is one of the key drivers of customer dissatisfaction, negative word of mouth and ultimately, customer defection.

Graham Hill
@grahamhill

Further Reading:

Mona Goldwater,
Robert Plutchik's "Wheel of Emotions"
http://jackbrummet.blogspot.de/2011/09/robert-plutchiks-wheel-of-emotions.html

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By houstonone
08th Jul 2015 17:05

Customer experience management is in danger of disappearing up its own backside. There are so many UX consultancies these days that are speaking an entirely separate language to the real world customer. It's like some kind of cult. 

I completely agree Graham. They should be giving customers the tools to get their jobs done and achieve the goals they want to achieve. All this nonsense about designing EMOTIONS is emperor's new clothes stuff. 

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
09th Jul 2015 11:35

Hi Houstonone

Thanks for your comment. It is much appreciated.

Arcane language is a problem with many business disciplines. It is almost as though inventing new words, rather than using plain language, is an alternative to having a theoretically sound, widely practiced and well understood discipline. 

Three different disciplines are currently competing for dominance in the world of  customer experience design. Firstly there is User Experience (UX) which came out of work on Human Computer Interaction that first appeared in the 1980s. UX designers are mostly to be found in the digital departments of companies today. Then there is Customer Experience (CX) which although not created by them, was popularised by Pine & Gilmore' book 'The Experience Economy' in the 2000s. Many companies have established customer experience teams to improve the customer experience. Most recently, there is Service Design which has its roots in design schools. Unlike UX designers who understand the digital world and customer experience designers who understand business, service designers who understand design but have a problem showing its value have struggled to gain a foothold in companies. However, all overlap significantly, all user many similar (but not always the same) tools and all claim to be the best foundation for designing customer experiences. 

My take on the three is that none of them is overwhelmingly better than the others, but they all contribute useful frameworks, models and tools which together can be used to design better experiences for customers. Perhaps that is why some universities are now creating academic courses that bring together the essentials from service science, management, engineering and design (SSMED). 

I will answer your point about emotions in a separate comment.

Graham Hill

@grahamhill

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By pusie23
09th Jul 2015 14:10

"Focus on customer jobs NOT on customer personas"

"Focus on customer decision journeys NOT on interactions"

does this render many csutomer jrouney map attempts redundant? they often see to be built on personas and interactions.........................

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By rockygramm
09th Jul 2015 14:37

Proper experience design means delivering not just the right experience, but the necessary experience. Too much experience design is being driven by marketers who believe that a good experience equals delivering the right offer at the right time on the right channel. Actually, most people don't want marketing messages popping up at all!

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
09th Jul 2015 17:08

Jim Tincher raised an interesting comment.

“Like you, I’m a fan of the jobs-to-be-done methodology. But it’s not a universal best practice for all purposes. Specifically, it’s less of a fit for journey mapping.

A journey map is designed to show you what customers are currently going through – how hard is it to be your customer? As such, it shows where friction comes into your customer experience for each persona.

Journey maps are best used to identify the areas that most need rethinking. Once that’s done, THEN a design process begins, which is where the jobs-to-be-done is best applied. But, as powerful as the jobs approach is, it doesn’t really help to rally a company, drive culture change, or build customer empathy, which is where journey maps excel.

It’s a different tool for a different purpose. It all depends on the job that you’re trying to do!”

Is Jim right? I don’t think so.

I have been drawing journey maps and service blueprints for clients, and hiring others to draw them for almost fifteen years. For the first ten years I would have agreed with Jim when he suggests that a journey map is a powerful pictorial way to illustrate what the customer has to go through to receive a service. During the last five years, new and better thinking from service design, service science and in particular, service innovation, has started to permeate experience design. It has introduced new and better concepts such as customer jobs, decision journeys and decision mapping that turn the traditional approach on its head. And that help overcome some of the traditional approach’s flaws.

Customer personas are flawed from the very start. They are rarely developed using a statistically robust process, they say little of value about customers and their underlying needs, and worst of all, they focus the designer on the customer rather than what they are trying to do. By starting with customer jobs, contemporary experience designers focus on what customers are trying to do and the outcomes they desire. And let’s not forget, customers have functional, emotional and social jobs each with their own desired outcomes. Once you have identified the customer’s jobs, you can map the interactions with the company (and other organisations) that they use to get their jobs done, just like you would in the traditional approach. But you can also layer on a whole host of additional information that helps identify how important an interaction is to getting the job done and how satisfied the customer is with the tools they currently have to do it. There is little point in identifying interactions to improve that are unimportant and already satisfied. I have used a number of differing mapping approaches to map the full richness of experiences like this in the past. The choice of which one you use is not all that important. Once you have mapped the interactions associated with doing each job you can use statistical validation to develop segments of customers with similar perceptions of the importance of different jobs and satisfaction with how well the experience delivers the outcomes the customers are looking for (job-based personas). This is a much better foundation for a root and branch experience improvement process. Unlike the traditional persona-driven approach, the new customer job-driven approach is statistically valid, explains customer motivations and focuses on what the customer is trying to do.

The Strategyn, McKinsey and MIT research shows quite clearly that focusing on jobs, journeys and decisions is a better foundation for making specific improvements to the customer experience than focusing on personas.

I agree with Jim 100% about the power of the big experience map picture to capture, explain to and motivate senior management. But that is of little use if the map is based on a flawed understanding of the customer that makes it difficult to use as a catalyst to improve the customer experience. By using the newer, better jobs-driven approach as the front-end of the experience design process you can have the best of both worlds.

Graham Hill

@grahamhill

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
09th Jul 2015 17:36

Hi Pusie 23

Thanks for your comment. It is much appreciated.

I don't think it renders journey maps and personas redundant, quite the contrary. It is just how they are developed and what they are used for that needs to change.

The traditional approach starts with somewhat artificial customer personas and uses them to map out the experience for customers with a company. It is all about the customer and what they do. And that is part of the problem. 

The new and better approach starts with customer jobs, identifies the clusters of related interactions customers use to do them and maps out the experience for customers with a company (and with any other organisations involved). In a recent mortgage experience map that my team created we identified over a dozen core jobs, involving over 100 core interactions over the 20-year lifecycle of a mortgage. The mortgage lender was only involved in approximately 30% of the interactions. This still looks pretty much like a traditional journey map except that it is organized by customer job and that it captures much more detail about customer’s job-related behavior than traditional journey maps do.

The jobs and their associates decision journey maps are then statistically validated with a much larger sample of customers to identify which interactions are the most important and how satisfied they are with the tools provided to do them. Customer segments are then developed around jobs, their importance and satisfaction. These also look pretty much like traditional personas too, except that they are statistically valid and that they are focused on common customer needs and matching behaviours.

Unlike the traditional approach, the jobs approach is all about what customers are trying to do. There is little point on focusing on what customers do if it doesn’t closely match what customers are trying to do as well. This is a much better foundation for experience improvement activities than the traditional approach. 

My response to Jim Ticher's comments sets the approach out in a little more detail. 

Graham Hill

@grahamhill

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
09th Jul 2015 18:18

Hi Rockgramm

Thanks for your comment. It is much appreciated.

I agree with you in principle. Much experience design today is focused mainly on the interactions customers have with customers up to the point of sale. After that customers seem to be largely left to their fate, even though the vast majority of touchpoints are experienced by the customer when the product is in use. 

That marketing direct many improvement efforts, for example by looking for changes in customer behavior during an interaction that can trigger a ‘next-best action’ communication, shouldn’t be a problem per se, providing the interaction is explicitly designed to help the customer achieve the outcomes they want from the jobs they are doing. In other words, if there is something in it for the customer, as well as for the marketer. Unfortunately the pressures of quarterly sales targets means that marketers are often forced to take short cuts that mean the communications triggered are only designed to get the customer to do something for the company, without there being any value in doing so for the customer. 

The infamous ad-man David Ogilvy said, “the customer is not an idiot, she is your wife!” The evidence from recent a study by Turow et al on ‘The Tradeoff Fallacy’ shows that customers are no idiots. They can see that the data they provide marketers and the communications they receive from them often contain nothing of value for them. And as recent Aimia research on ‘The Rise of the Deletist Customer’ also shows, customers on the receiving end of irrelevant marketing are increasingly willing to vote with their feet by un-following brands, deleting accounts and closing accounts.

By using customer jobs to create a newer, better approach to experience design explicitly identifies what customers are trying to do and the outcomes they want. But marketers still have to want to share value with customers rather than expropriating it all for themselves. 

Graham Hill

@grahamhill

 

Further Reading:

 

Turow et al

The Tradeoff Fallacy

https://www.asc.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/TradeoffFallacy_1.pdf

 

Aimia

The Rise of the Deletist Customer

http://www.slideshare.net/ReetuMcCallum1/deletist-consumer-45997436

 

 

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By choypw
10th Jul 2015 07:33

Graham, it's always a pleasure to read your masterpiece.  Believe it or not, I've been waiting for it for a very long time.  And because of you, I registered mycustomer so that I can write you here.

Your article suggests 3 things.

Focus on customer jobs NOT on customer personas

Focus on customer decision journeys NOT on interactions

Focus on customer decisions NOT on emotions

In this comment, I focus on jtbd.  I'll come to customer decision journey and customer decisions later.

What's exactly is a job?  This is a question I've been asking for a long time.  A lot of books and consultants conclude that jtbd is a great concept which brings good result.  But where are the solid case studies?  We do not lack concepts.  What we are truly lack of are case studies that help people apply.

I'd take this opportunity to share with you my journey here, as advised by you via Twitter weeks ago.

To help myself understand jtbd, I always refer to the classic quote by Theodore Levitt "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill.  They want a quarter-inch hole."  From my conversation with Alan Klement, he suggested that "the quarter inch hole isn't the job, that's the outcome.  The customer's struggle is the job."  That's nice.  It at least helps me understand what exactly a job is.  Then later, Alan suggested that a job should be problem focused instead of solution focused.  Take restaurant as an example.  In order to accurately define the job, we should ask "what does going to a restaurant do for you, that you couldn't do before (or without it)?"  That's deep!  I always thought of going to a restaurant for one purpose: EAT!  And EAT, is the job.  After all, that's why any restaurant exists: to provide food.  But eat, according to Alan's logic, is solution focused.  It could be job but we'd be very solution focused.  So in order to define the job, we should be problem focused.  Alan uses McDonald's as an example.  The "job" McDonald's is hired for has something to do with satiating hunger in a convenient, reliable manner. Then we start to ask, "what are other ways people get the job of satiating hunger in a convenient, reliable manner done?"  Then some customers, sometimes instead of going to McDonald's, they may grab a few slices of pizza.  Alan concludes that jobs are defined by the situations and job is the desire for progress.

However, when you seriously look at our conversation, we still haven't come up with the definition of a job, and how to define a job.  Alan further suggested that jobs stated in format "action + object" is just an answer to question, and it doesn't tell us why.  Moreover, it doesn't give us an adequate idea of what the competition is.  Now, we only know that a job should be problem focused instead of solution focused.  Back to the restaurant example, my take is that eat is still the job, and getting full is the outcome.  Yes?  Or wrong?

Now, as I mentioned earlier, we don't lack concepts, then there is empathy mapping.  How is jtbd related to empathy mapping?  After all, empathy mapping helps us see things from the customer's perspective, similar to jtbd.

Let me finish this comment with another example.  I hope we can help readers understand how to apply jtbd in real world instead of sharing concepts and ideas which are not useful at all in application.

I go to 7-Eleven to buy a bottle of distilled water.  I hire 7-Eleven because they open 24-hour.  Even though the price is relatively more expensive I have no options but go there because I need water as I was having too much beer earlier.  From 7-Eleven pov, what's my job?  And when they successfully define my jtbd, what can they do?  How about the distilled water brand?  What's my jtbd for the distilled water?  What can the water brand do to improve my experience?  Same for 7-Eleven?

 

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
10th Jul 2015 10:23

Michael Lowenstein raised another comment.

“I largely agree with you on points 1 and 2 (although there is also much value in understanding customers personas and effectiveness of interactions, so neither can, or should, be dismissed), but not so much on 3. Emotions and subconscious reactions drive memory, and memory drives downstream decisions: http://customerthink.com/other-than-that-mrs-lincoln-how-was-the-play/

I am not suggesting doing away with personas entirely, far from it. I am instead suggesting basing them on people with similar affinities to their jobs to be done (in terms of the importance of the job and their satisfaction with the tools they have to do it) instead. The persona thus describes a usable set of people with similar behaviours, not just a useless set of people with similar characteristics who may have completely different behaviours.

I am not suggesting doing away with measuring the effectiveness of interactions either. Quite the opposite. But the emphasis changes from measuring the general effectiveness of interactions to measuring their specific effectiveness based on how well the interactions help customers get their jobs done and thus, get the outcomes they desire.

Emotions are a whole lot more complicated. Part of the problem is that the word ‘emotions’ comes loaded with emotional baggage of its own.

From a neuroscience perspective, emotions are inextricably linked with decision-making, particularly the subconscious, automatic, fast sort that Daniel Kahneman described in his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. As Antonio Damasio describes in his earlier book ‘The Feeling of What Happens’, we only become aware of these subconscious emotions only when they appear as conscious feelings. We incorporate emotions, feelings and a wide variety of other information available to us when making significant decisions about what to do. As Kahneman describes in his 2002 Nobel lecture, we make these decisions under a sense of uncertainty. The more significant the decision, the better it will be made, on average, by thinking about it than by using gut feel or intuition, i.e. by letting emotions decide subconsciously.

Experience design is all about helping the customer get their jobs done better. A large part of this is achieved by providing customers with the right information, at the right time to make significant decisions and by providing them with simple tools to make the decision-making process easier. Without a thorough understanding of the decisions customers make, (during the interactions they use to get their jobs done), it is unlikely that the designer will be able to improve the customer experience. Emotions are an important part of the decision-making process, but it is the decisions that matter most when designing experiences, not the emotions.

Cogito ergo sum, As Descartes wrote.

Graham Hill

@grahamhill

 

Further Reading:

Daniel Kahneman

Thinking Fast and Slow

http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/0374533555

Antonio Damasio

The Feeling of What Happens

http://www.amazon.com/The-Feeling-What-Happens-Consciousness/dp/0156010755

Daniel Kahneman

2002 Nobel Prize Lecture

http://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=531

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
10th Jul 2015 12:50

Chip Bell raised an important question about how decision journeys fit into the larger customer experience.

“I completely agree with your view on customer personas. Personas can lead to stereotyping in ways that might be contrary to the customer’s real buying habits. I am a baby boomer. Yet my buying habits, style, and early-adopter interests make me completely unlike my baby boomer counterparts. When I am asked by a clerk, “Do you text” (rather than “Would you like a text”), I know my grey hair and over 60 looks put me in their “Granddaddy Persona” and I resent it!

However, I will be honest, I am having a challenge thinking of customer journeys as primarily decision journeys. What decisions are involved in encountering a trashy parking lot, an indifferent receptionist, a boring waiting room, or confusing signage. I may get all the proper data for great decision making along my journey that included the moments of truth outlined above and walk away with a sub-par evaluation of the service provider.

A customer journey includes all the experiences a customer has along their path, complete with the perceptions and emotions associated with those experiences. If our goal is to make the decision making outcome a positive one we need to ensure our assessment ultimately leads us to police the parking lot, get a friendly receptionist, spice up the waiting room and get clear signage!

Tom Peters wrote: “Customers perceive service quality in their own unique, idiosyncratic, emotional, end-of-the-day, and total human terms. Perception is all there is.” It would be so much easier if customer decision-making were rational and logical. But, I believe when it comes to the experiences that surround the pursuit of an outcome, it is far more emotional than rational.”

Part of the problem with any new discipline like customer experience is the explosion in new jargon. This can easily lead to misunderstandings. Maybe if I try and explain my thinking a little more clearly it will help.

The root of the approach I use to improve the customer experience starts with the recognition that customers don’t interact with companies for fun; they do it to get jobs done and to achieve the outcomes they desire. If I am looking to buy a second car I have a whole host of of jobs-to-be-done that can be quickly and easily captured using the job statements described by Ulwick & Bettencourt’s in their article on ‘Giving Customers a Fair Hearing’. Jobs describe what customers are trying to do (functional jobs). But they also describe how customers want to feel (emotional jobs) and how they want to be seen by others (social jobs). I might want to get a sports car for those long weekend drives with my wife, but I might plump for the Jaguar F-type as it makes me feel like my namesake (the only winner of the triple crown of motorsport: Le Mans 24 Hours, the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix) and makes my neighbours green with envy. Jobs are a much better place to start improving the customer experience than looking at customers themselves.

As Bettencourt & Ulwick describe in another article on ‘The Customer-Centered Innovation Map’, customers go through a simple series of steps to get their jobs done. These steps provide a useful framework to identify the interactions with your company (and other organisations) where customers look for help to get their jobs done. It is this series of related activities and interactions, usually closely spaced in time, that constitutes the ‘decision journey’ that Mckinsey wrote about. You can map the decision journey, its constituent interactions, core decisions and a wide variety of supporting information using any one of a number of experience mapping approaches. My preference is to allow customers to map their own interactions and decisions using a combination of the mobile app Experience Fellow (http://www.experiencefellow.com)  to capture details of interactions in real-time and Smaply (https://www.smaply.com) to turn them into an experience map. Decision journeys provide detailed insights into how customers do their jobs, and where they struggle, that focuses improvements on those bits of the experience that are most important to customers and the most under-served.

The trashy parking lot, an indifferent receptionist, a boring waiting room and confusing signage that you describe are all part and parcel of the interactions in a customer decision journey. They influence the satisfaction and dis-satisfaction you have with the interactions. They may even drive decisions to abandon particular interactions and seek alternative ways to get jobs done. And of course, they may all be candidates for improvement during the redesign of the customer experience. But only if they are important to customers. It is all to easy for experience improvements to get sucked into improving what is broken rather than focusing on what is really important for customers. It may be that what customers really want is a completely different solution that doesn’t involve parking lots, receptionists or waiting rooms at all. By focusing on customer jobs, decision journeys and the decisions contained within them, you have a better foundation for improving the customer experience on their terms, rather than just on yours.

Graham Hill

@grahamhill

 

Further Reading:

Ulwick & Bettencourt

‘Giving Customers a Fair Hearing’

http://www.sce.carleton.ca/faculty/tanev/TTMG_5103/Articles/Ulwick_Giving_customers_a_fair_hearing_MIT_Sloan_2008.pdf

Bettencourt & Ulwick

‘The Customer-Centered Innovation Map’

http://www.jey-associates.com/pr/Customer-CenteredInnovationMap_R0805Hp2.pdf

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
14th Jul 2015 08:57

Chip Bell uses a fishing metaphor to make a plaidoyer for the overarching importance of emotions in the customer experience.

Quote

“Thanks for your thoughtful response, Graham. We are challenged by vernacular in this relatively new field.

Not sure I agree that customers do not interact with companies for fun, or Stew Leonard’s Dairy Store would not be a destination location or DisneyWorld able to command a hundred bucks a day for a visit with Mickey. See my early CustomerThink piece on “Fun as a Competitive Strategy.”

I worry that choosing strictly analytical language (jobs, decisions, etc.) for a highly emotional encounter weighs leaders’ already logic-biased thinking to be even more mechanical, methodical, and rational. It can risk missing (or misinterpreting) the mystery of the heart and the fickleness of emotion. The experience side of service comes from human performance that can be as magical as the theater.

My concern for completely rationalizing an experience laced with emotion is best characterized by John Steinbeck’s description of a fishing expedition in his book, Sea of Cortez. Having fished for sierra in the Sea of Cortez off Los Cabos, Mexico, I can personally relate to Steinbeck’s powerful prose.

“The Mexican sierra has 17 plus 15 plus nine spines in the dorsal fin. These can easily be counted. But if the sierra strikes hard on the line so that our hands are burned, if the fish sounds and nearly escapes and finally comes in over the rail, his colors pulsing and his tail beating in the air, a whole new relational externality has come into being–an entity which is more than the sum of the fish plus the fisherman.”

“The only way to count the spines of the sierra, unaffected by the second relational reality, is to sit in a laboratory, open an evil-smelling jar, remove a stiff colorless fish from the formalin solution, count the spines and write the truth…There you have recorded a reality which cannot be assailed–probably the least important reality concerning either the fish or yourself.

Are we focusing on spine-counting and missing the breathtaking encounter? As Marilyn Ferguson asks in her bestselling book The Aquarian Conspiracy, “Are we poking at qualities with tools designed to detect quantities? What does an intelligence test measure? Where in the medical armamentarium is the will to live? How heavy is grief, how deep is love?”

Unquote

I think Chip is missing the point.

Emotions and their cognitive counterpart, feelings, are with us all the time. They are a big part of everything we do, whether we are thinking fast or slow. Or whether we are just there to enjoy the show!

I am not a believer in replacing emotions with cold, hard logic. That would be utterly pointless. But I am a big believer is replacing the flawed parts of designerly approaches to experience design with demonstrably better ones.

This is not the first time I have heard a plaidoyer to keep more structured approaches out of what practitioners like to believe are essentially ‘creative’ activities. I saw it when I worked as an innovation consultant. Inventors like to see themselves as creative and dislike anything that looks like a standardised process. But 80% of inventions fail in the market. I see it in my current work as a marketer too. Marketers like to think of themselves as the most creative part of commercial organisations. But as branding professor, Mark Ritson, wrote in a recent opinion in Marketing Week, ‘The idea that marketers need to be creative is a load of baloney, we’re useless at it!’ What goes for inventors and marketers goes for experience designers too.

The mistake they all make, and I think Chip makes too, is to believe that structured processes only produce uncreative results. Nothing could be further from the truth. A structured innovation, marketing or experience design process is just a tool in the hand of its user. A really creative user will produce an even better result using a structured process than they will without it. It is the uncreative users, (that mistakenly believe they are creative), that we should be worrying about, not structured experience design processes.

I agree with Chip about the importance of emotions in experiences, whether they are functional or fun. But there are new and better tools available to experience designers than the tools they have today. What they do with the tools is up to them.

Graham Hill

@grahamhill

 

Further Reading:

Mark Ritson

Marketing Week

‘The idea that marketers need to be creative is a load of baloney, we’re useless at it!’

https://www.marketingweek.com/2015/07/01/mark-ritson-the-idea-that-marketers-need-to-be-creative-is-a-load-of-baloney-were-useless-at-it/

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
29th Jul 2015 12:41

Ian Golding makes an interesting comment about the importance of positive customers feeling as proxies for future business.

Quote

“Very interesting and thought provoking stuff Graham. Like Thierry, my instant reaction is to focus on the decisions vs. emotions element of your post. I spend a lot of my time talking about ‘feelings’ and am absolutely of the belief that the way organisations make customers ‘feel’ has a fundamental effect on their decision to continue ‘interacting’ with a company. If we can design the experience to leave customers ‘feeling’ the way we would want them to, then all stakeholders are in principle in a better place.

However, I must acknowledge that the way we feel does not always lead to the DECISION correlating with the EMOTION. For example, very often, customers will make a decision because they ‘feel’ they have no choice – this makes them in my opinion a ‘reluctant hostage’.

So in summary, I ‘feel’ that my ‘decision’ on what to do with the insight you have shared is to consider BOTH sides of every element you have focused on!”

Unquote

I agree with Ian in principle about wanting to leave customers feeling positive about their experience with a company. The question is whether you should focus on making them feel positive (as you imply), or whether you should focus on helping them get the jobs done they came to you for help with in the first place, in the expectation that will leave them with positive feelings.

By focusing on the key decisions during interactions the company not only helps customers get their jobs done faster, easier and better, it also increases the likelihood that they will also leave the interactions with positive feelings and the intention to come back for more in the future. Decisions come first, the feeling of what happens (to quote the title of Damasio’s book on how we perceive experiences) comes second.

You can have your cake and eat it. But first you must help the customer bake their own cake!

Graham Hill

@grahamhill

 

Further Reading:

 

Antonio Damasio

‘The Feeling of What Happens’

http://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/damasioreview.html

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
09th Aug 2015 17:41

Another commenter, Daan, makes a plaidoyer for emotion-driven design of experiences.

Quote

“Thank you for your article! Like many others number 3 got me thinking and I think it’s both right and wrong. My thoughts on the matter:

I think the context of the specific customer journey determine what to, predominantly, design for. In some cases I think you want to limit conscious decision making and want to go entirely for ”emotional” design and vice versa. This may be determined by the state of your customer. Is there state tellic or para-tellic. We use the PAD (pleasure, arousal, dominance) construct to determine customer states and align our design (on a touch point level) with the state of the customers.

We try to design for desired behavior and being memorable. Basically future behavior (buying and recommending behavior) is strongly correlated with your previous behavior (habits) and mental availability preferably with a positive association. Not all products need a deep emotional connection so we tend to design for behavior and being memorable. So I agree there on a tendency to over focus on emotional design but emotions are a means to a goal and validate made decisions (or help in making customer experience more memorable). The reason to focus on behavior and not conscious decision making lies in the fact that on a volume bases these cover a lot of the habits of behavioral ”loyal” customers that make the decisions on subconscious processes. Our brain is constantly trying to limit your glucose usage and we need to take that into account when designing customer journeys. This also refers to my first point, context. So a customer making his or her virgin buying decision needs a different journey.

On a more specific note: I think we never design for emotions we design stimuli that evoke emotions/decisions within a context and taking customer traits into account. Ultimately those stimuli lead to behavior (now and in the future). Emotions and decisions are both valid mechanisms to help us in ”nudge” or steer behavior based on the context of the customer journey.”

Unquote

In principle, I agree with much of what Daan says. But I still have a few quibbles.

Experience Designers do have a responsibility to design interactions with customers in a way that will help them to get their jobs done and achieve their desired outcomes faster, easier and better. Telefonica’s Jonathan Earle described this perfectly in a recent article in Marketing Week about ‘Reducing Customer Effort is Key to Getting the Product Right’. The designer’s challenge is in identifying how to achieve the right balance between helping customers think about what you are doing during an interaction (cognition), feel that they are doing the right thing during it (intuition) and simply getting on with it without any thought whatsoever (sub-conscious automation).

To try and force all interactions to be driven by intuition or automation would obviously be a mistake. In the mortgage example I used earlier, there are a number of interactions where the customer should think carefully through their options before consciously choosing one, e.g. during the interaction to ‘calculate mortgage affordability’. The designer’s job is to design the interaction so that: 1. it helps the customer make the right decision, 2. it helps the customer move to the next interaction more quickly, and 3. it keeps the customer interacting with the Co rather than going elsewhere for help. Despite the cognition required by the customer, that doesn’t mean that the interaction cannot be designed so that it feels intuitively right for the customer, and so that the customer experiences feelings of trust in and anticipation of interactions to come (to use two emotions from ‘Plutchik’s Emotion Wheel’).

Similarly, to try and force all interactions to be memorable would also be a mistake. As Klein & Kahneman hint at in their paper on ‘Conditions for Intuitive Experience’, if an interaction is something that is likely only to be done once, is carried out in a highly variable environment and particularly if it is not key to achieving the customer’s outcomes, there is little reason to try to make it memorable. My experience is that many interactions in the mortgage journey fall into this category. On the other hand, as Eugene Sadler-Smith shows in a paper on ‘Incorprating Intuition into HRD’, if an interaction occurs many times, in a stable environment and it contributes directly towards achieving the customer’s outcomes, making it more memorable will contribute to the customer developing a strong intuition about the interaction that will help them know how to get more of what they want out of it the next time. As you point out, ‘Our brain is constantly trying to limit your glucose usage and we need to take that into account when designing customer journeys’.

The different roles of cognition, intuition and automation in designing effective interactions with customers has hardly even begun to be researched, let alone to find its way into the hands of thoughtful practitioners. It is always a pleasure to see new theories validated empirically, such as the Delft University of Technology’s researchers’ use of Reversal Theory in redesigning the customer experience at Dutch airline KLM. Until there is a universal theory of how customers think, feel and act during their experiences, we will continue to have these interesting discussions.

Graham Hill

@grahamhill

 

Further Reading:

Jonathan Earle

Marketing Week

‘Reducing Customer Effort is Key to Getting the Product Right’

http://www.marketingweek.com/2015/08/06/telefonicas-jonathan-earle-reducing-customer-effort-is-key-to-getting-the-product-right/

For an application of Plutchik’s Emotion Wheel see… Meftah et al

Sharing Emotional Information Using A Three Layer Model

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/266485335_Sharing_Emotional_Information_Using_A_Three_Layer_Model

Klein & Kahneman

‘Conditions for Intuitive Experience’

http://www.fiddlemath.net/stuff/conditions-for-intuitive-expertise.pdf

Eugene Sadler-Smith

‘Incorprating Intuition into HRD’

http://www.ufhrd.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/507-incorporating-intuition-into-hrd_sadler-smith.pdf

Fleur A. van Midwoud

‘Beyond Blue: a Novel In-flight Dinner Ritual’

http://reversaltheory.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/2014-v3-10-VanMidwoud-In-Flight-Dinner1.pdf

Roderick Huijgen

‘Shareables: An In-flight Gift System’
http://reversaltheory.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/2014-v3-09-Huijgen-ShareablesGift.pdf

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Graham Hill
By Graham Hill
13th Aug 2015 15:09

Vladimir Dimitrov raises an interesting question about customers’ emotional jobs.

Quote

“Good FFT piece! (FFT = food-for-thought). No wonder it provoked so many comments and dialogues. Not to enter those or repeat anything already said, just a quick question:

What if ‘the job to be done’ is… to feel in a certain way?”

Unquote

As Bettencourt & Ulwick describe in their article on ‘The Customer-Centred Innovation Map’ there is more to jobs-to-be-done than just functional jobs (what customers wants to do). It also recognises that customers have associated emotional jobs (how they want to feel) and social jobs (how they want to be perceived by others).

Cars provide an interesting hypothetical example of the differences and how they drive behaviour. My choice of car to complete the functional job of driving with my wife from Cologne, Germany to St Tropez, France for our summer holiday would be a Toyota Avensis Estate. It is cheap to run, very reliable and has plenty of room in the back for the inevitable things we will buy in St Tropez. But do I want to be seen driving around in a Toyota Avensis? Is that really me? I don’t think so. I am more of an outdoor type so the right car for my emotional needs would be a Range Rover Sport. It is expensive to run, not so reliable, but it has even more room in the back. More importantly, it looks perfectly at home parked outside the Senequier cafe in St Tropez. But what does it say about me to others in the playground of the rich and famous? Sadly, not enough! The right car for my social needs would be a Maserati Quattroporte. It’s not so pretentious as a Lamborghini and not so blingy as a Bentley Coupe (favoured by the oligarchs on their summer breaks). It says a lot about how I want to be perceived by others. Three different jobs – functional, emotional and social – that all need trading off against each other. What car do I drive? That’s between me and my bank manager. But you get the point.

In a nutshell. You should look at customer’s associated emotional and social jobs as well as their functional ones. The products, services and experiences you develop to complete them will require some careful trade-offs to be made. That is the art and science of experience design.

Graham Hill

@grahamhill

 

Further Reading:

 

Bettencourt & Ulwick

‘The Customer-Centred Innovation Map’

https://hbr.org/2008/05/the-customer-centered-innovation-map/ar/1

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By novius
19th Aug 2015 11:33

Graham,

A useful contribution - as usual.

There is one point I want to consider further and that is the role of emotions.  You are right when you suggest that in many core decisions, we take a considered view and not an instant, emotional view.  It is important however not to under-estimate the 'hidden' power of our sub-conscious emotions and values.  

Research shows that when making purchase decisions, even considerable ones like a new car, we do not take information at face value.  We tend to give greater weight to information that supports a choice we have already made subconsciously and down-play the reliability  or influence of information that does not support this.  Of course, awareness of this helps but that unseen influence is difficult to over-ride because it is so deep-seated in our psyche.

I recommend the work of Prof Gordon Brown at Warwick University for anyone wanting to learn more. 

Regards

 

Dave Jackson

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