Category Archives: Product Development
Back in 2011 I asked this question: Customer Experience: What About The ‘Product’? And I ended that conversation with the following assertion:
The product is not in one domain and Customer Experience in another domain. Any serious examination of the Customer Experience has to grapple with the product and how well it does the job that the customer is hiring it to do. That means designing that product so that it is both useful (does the job) and usable (easy/intuitive) to use.
Today, I stand by that conversation. In particular, the necessity and critical importance of the ‘product’ (the core product or service which calls forth the customer to reach out and interact with the organisation which is selling that product or service) to any serious work on improving-transforming the customer’s experience of the organisation.
I also find that I was wrong. How so? Today, I’d sum up that conversation differently. How would I sum it up? As follows:
The ‘product’ is not in one domain and Customer Experience in another domain. Any serious examination of the Customer Experience (as in the customer’s experience) has to grapple with the ‘product’ and how well it does the job that the customer is hiring it to do. That means designing the ‘product’ so that it is useful (does the job), usable (easy/intuitive to use), and sensuous (evokes the senses and calls forth awe). When you get the ‘product’ right you will learn that in a substantial-meaningful way that the customer’s experience and loyalty start and end with the design of the ‘product’. If you have the right product then you can concentrate on marketing (advertising, distributing) it. Little need to waste your time on the latest corporate nonsense: customer experience management as in customer interaction management across a multitude of interaction channels.
What has led me to this way of summing up the matter? Apple. In particular, Apple’s latest financial results - the largest quarterly corporate profit of any company. Let’s look into the quarterly figures a little bit more: revenue of $75bn, profit of $18bn, and Apple sold 34,000 iPhones per hour. Allow me to share this paragraph with you (bolding mine):
Apple chief executive Tim Cook called the company’s sales “phenomenal” and said the company had sold 34,000 iPhones an hour every day of the quarter. “This volume is hard to comprehend,” Cook said.
I am now going to make my most controversial assertion. Ready? I say that the field of Customer Experience Management (as in customer interaction management) is attractive to and for the mediocre. Yes, the mediocre! You know the folks that do not design-sell great ‘products’. ‘Products’ that do not simplify-enrich the lives of our fellow human beings. Look if you make a great product then the world beats a path to your door -including overcoming any hurdles along the path. Only CXM fools ignore the critical importance of the ‘product’. Isn’t the product the reason that the customer takes action – to actual reach out to the business in the first place?
I wonder if you have noticed something about the world of business? You may have not noticed it as this feature of business life is pervasive, so enduring, that lies in the background. I found myself reawakened to this feature recently.
Some consultants and sales folks were carrying around and using the standard issue company owned laptops made by the likes of Dell, IBM, HP, Toshiba…. Others were carrying around and using Apple MacBook laptops (Air, Pro) – they had purchased these themselves out of their own money.
What is it that I observed? I noticed that the consultants and sales people using Apple MacBook laptops handled their laptops as if these were sacred objects. I noticed these folks look, actually look, at their MacBooks as I look at landscapes that catch my eye and take my breath away. I noticed that these folks displayed their MacBooks so that all could see. And I noticed that these folks carried their MacBooks with a certain kind of pride. Most importantly, I noticed a certain kind of affection, even reverence, between the consultants and their MacBooks.
What about the consultants and sales people carrying around the corporate issue laptops made by the likes of Dell, IBM, HP, Toshiba..? I noticed these folks showed no pride, no reverence, no affection for their laptops. They treated them as functional machines – mere tools to do a job. They dragged them out of their cases. They plonked them on the table. When not using them them ‘hid’ them by putting papers on top of them….
Have you figured out what feature of the business world I am talking about? I am talking about the lack of beauty in the world of business! I am talking about:
- conversations devoid of the beauty of genuine human warmth-friendliness;
- products that function yet are devoid of beauty;
- offices that are devoid of colour, fragrance, plants, flowers and have the feel of a factory in many ways;
- call-centres in run down parts of the country where the human spirit sinks as the body arrives for work;
- retail stores that have the look and feel of hospitals….
I notice that some folks have been putting Apple down due to the lack of innovative industry making, coffer filling-overflowing, products. This may be the case.
I notice that the same folks that put down Apple for its lack of innovation point towards Samsung for its innovation especially in the area of smartphones. What I have not yet experienced is an Apple customer handing in their iPhone for a Samsung Galaxy. Why not? It occurs to me that Samsung products lack that which pervades the Apple products: beauty that calls forth awe, affection, even reverence.
How can you and your organisation cater for and meet one of the most fundamental human needs: beauty? If you have got around to designing customer experiences then ask yourself if you have even considered this need for beauty?
Marketing and Customer Experience: 6 Core Emotional Needs That Shape Human Behaviour (Part 2 – Control)
If you read the first post of this series you may remember that Mark Ingwer in his book Empathetic Marketing asserts that there are 6 core emotional needs of customers: control, self-expression, growth, recognition, belonging, and care. In this post I share my thoughts and Mark’s assertions-insights regarding the primary emotional need: CONTROL.
Satisfying the need for control provides the best access for building customer loyalty
Mark Ingwer is bold in his assertion when it comes to the need for control and the access it provides the smart business:
… satisfying the control needs of the consumer, more than any individual need discussed in this book, holds the most potential for a company to build loyalty to a brand, product, or service through intrinsic motivation, which is the internal sense of satisfaction with the purchasing process and the resulting purchase.
Through the iPod and iTunes, Apple handed control of music over to the music listener. Through the iPhone, iPad and the apps store, Apple handed over much more control over these devices to the user such that each iPhone, each iPad, can truly be customised to the user by the user. Please notice the genius here. By handing so much control over to the user and making it easy for the user to exercise this control, Apple has created a context where each iPhone, iPad is unique and thus irreplaceable. Hence, the value if iCloud.
Why is the need for control such a vital need?
Think for a moment about the last time that you did not have any control over an important aspect of your life. What showed up for you in your body? What emotions surfaced? Was it a pleasant experience? An experience you want to repeat? If you are human then it is likely that this experience was a deeply unsettling one when it occurred. Here’s what Mark Ingwer says on this matter
The need for control fuels our motivation in every aspect of our lives. Positioned near the individuality pole of the needs continuum, control is essential to our every day functioning. We see how this need influences our lives most profoundly when we’re not in control. Some of life’s worst and most stressful predicaments are colored by feelings of helplessness – events in which we are unable to prevent or alter the inevitable.
I invite you to consider the direction of human progress. Is this progress, as in increasing control over that which showed up an threatening for us or made life uncertain or merely difficult? Do you doubt that our ideal, even if unstated, is to have complete dominion (control) over that which shows up on planet Earth. And then our galaxy and eventually the universe. Why might this be? Here’s Mark Ingwer again:
Many situations that fall outside the purview of personal agency hit us in the gut. We feel insecure. We feel small. We fear losing control. And we strive to regain that control. Not only does that loss of control prevent us from achieving our specific outcomes, but it is also often wrenching evidence that signifies our relative insignificance in a large (and largely random) universe.
When we feel in control of external events, in control of ourselves, and in control of our core relationships, we have a broader and more satisfying feeling of contentment and confidence …. we can’t grow as individuals without attending properly to this need.
Customer service and the power of control
Why is it that I do most of my shopping online and do all of my banking online? Because I experience being in control of the shopping process, the banking process. Why is it that I dread having to call up most call-centres? Because, even before I pick up the call I expect a long-tedious-unpleasant experience where I am at the mercy of the IVR, long waiting times, call-centre agents who lack the expertise-will-freedom to actually help me ….. Here is what Mark Ingwer says on the matter:
Nothing reveals the power of control – and the destructive power of lack of control – than customer service situations. Companies that sell services or routinely interact with their customers in service settings must pay special attention to a customer’s sense of control.
Poor customer service results when proxy control is ineffective. If the proxy does not behave as the customer desires, the customer loses control of the situation.
If you are wondering what proxy control is then think about wanting to do your banking online and finding that the website is out of operation. Or imagine needing cash, turning up at the ATM and finding that it is out of order and there are no other ATMs available. Or imagine, ringing up the call-centre and coming face to face with an call-centre agent who speaks with an accent you find hard to understand. Or imagine going to the restaurant with the family, having eaten your meal, finding your young ones tired, looking for a waiter to pay the bill, and the waiter seems to take forever to come back to take your payment. You are desperate to go home and yet cannot do so until the waiter comes over to you and takes your payment.
What advice does Mark Ingwer have for marketers and customer experience specialists?
What I like about Mark Ingwer’s book is the practical suggestions that he provides at the end of each chapter. Here is his advice for marketers and customer experience specialists, as it shows up for me:
1. Review your core marketing message. It should say to customers: you can be in the driver’s seat – assuming products and service can deliver.
2. Examine the customers’ experience. Are prospects and customers in control throughout the path to the final sale and afterwards?
3. Simply after-sales processes.
If you want to learn more about these practical recommendations then you will have to buy the book and read it as I do not want to give away Mark’s secrets and deprive him of readers for his book.
If you remember only one sentence then remember this one
It occurs to me that when it comes to the end to end customer experience then this is the one sentence that captures it all when it comes to the human need for control:
From start to finish, customers must never sense that they are at the mercy of a company or product.
The last time I was in such a situation I walked out of the cinema, choosing not to watch a film that I really wanted to watch, rather than be at the mercy of the cinema and its staff.
In the next post, I will cover the human need for self-expression. It occurs to me whole industries are based on this need. I thank you for your listening.
My primary interest is human beings. The value that I most value is empathy. I find myself moved by the kindness-connection-helpfulness that flows when empathy is present. I have noticed breakthroughs in relationship often generate breakthroughs in performance. Which is why I was happy to take up the offer to read-review-share Mark Ingwer’s book Empathetic Marketing.
Let’s start with a passage that gets to the heart of the challenge:
The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
– Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self Deception
What is it that we fail to notice? I say that we fail to notice that human beings are not just automatons, computing algorithms, merely rational beings. We fail to notice that human beings are emotional-rational-social-embodied human beings. And this has consequences for how we treat customers, treat employees, treat suppliers, treat ourselves. It has consequences for the quality of our relationships and our performance.
Mark Ingwer says we fail to notice the nuances that make us human
What does business psychologist Mark Ingwer say? He says:
What we fail to notice is the powerful effect of our unconscious on behavior and personalities.… To truly understand why people say what they say and do what they do, we must look at the psychodynamic context surrounding consumer decisions.
…. when faced with many options and advertisements ….. we often decide what’s best for us by gravitating towards what feels right (or frequently away from what feels wrong).
Even when they claim to desire lifetime relationships with their clients and customers, many businesses tactically distance themselves from the humanity of their interactions. The systemic nature of marketing and business strategy inadvertently depersonalises their audience by using language that groups customers into market segments and targets. People are commonly referred to as “buyers,” shoppers,” “payers,” “non responders,” “early adopters,” and “eyeballs.” But too often what is lost is the nuance that makes them human.
Why does this matter? It matters because when we do not keep ‘the nuance that makes us human’ at front and centre of our business decisions then we create products and services which flop. We spend fortunes in business to get people to buy our products – become customers – and then we neglect their emotional needs for the rest of the ‘customer journey’. This is what Mark Ingwer says:
I contend that emotions and resulting behaviours are the foundation for satisfying complex psychological needs…. And individual’s needs are satisfied when he or she is connected meaningfully to others, and through these connections comes to find his or her own unique value and identity. It is a ceaseless, evolving, lifelong endeavour.
.. businesses must have an intimate and conceptual framework for understanding these emotional needs and a passion for meeting them every step of the way.
The heart of the matter: putting full bodied humanity into business?
It occurs to me that Mark Ingwer is pointing at that which shows up for me as the heart of the challenge: putting humanity into business so that the one dimensional picture of human beings becomes alive in all of its many dimensions. There are three sentences in particular that resonates with me and I wish to share with you:
Physical needs create life and keep us living, whereas the emotional needs alluded to earlier are what make life worth living.
Meeting needs is not like climbing a mountain. It’s more akin …. to a lifelong game of tug-of-war.
We are beings in conflict, individuals attempting to engage with our many needs outwardly and subconsciously.
What are the fundamental needs that drive shape-drive human behaviour?
Which begs the question, what are these fundamental human needs that shape-drive human behaviour? Mark Ingwer calls attention to two needs in particular: individuality and connectedness. This is what he says:
Throughout life’s stages, we balance our primary needs for individuality and connectedness…… These two needs underlie most all human motives and serve as the polar forces of a needs satisfaction model, which I call the Needs Continuum.
Sitting on the left-hand side of the continuum, our need for individuality finds a way to sneak into almost all of our behaviour. Western society values the stalwart, self-reliant man….. We subconsciously take and borrow from every one of our relationships and connections in the world to arrive at a better sense of self.
Sitting at the opposite pole of the continuum, the need for connectedness moves hand in hand with individuality …… The need for connectedness motivates us to prioritise friends and family. We often want to buy higher quality goods and services ……. for them them than we do for ourselves. Connectedness …. defines our role as social beings. It’s impossible to live our lives without others with whom to share it. We must be cared for, loved, nurtured. We must be recognised. We must belong to something larger than ourselves.
We need to seek and achieve connectedness in order to thrive and truly know ourselves. Other people are mirrors through which we develop and sustain identity…..to be connected to others is to open the door to sustained personal growth and happiness.
On the continuum between individuality and connectedness are the following six core emotional needs: control, self-expression, growth, recognition, belonging, and care.
When approaching customers or prospects, a business must understand which of the six core needs its products or service addresses and then tailor its marketing and product development to best address that core need
In the next post on this series (based on Mark Ingwer’s book Empathetic Marketing) I will explore the powerful human need for control.