One of our core principles at Tahzoo is the idea of the Fair Exchange. We define it simply as the art and science of balancing the needs and desires of the always connected, fully empowered customer with the business requirements and commercial outcomes which define success for the enterprise in the 21st century. It epitomizes what should be the goal of customer experience and what is required for customer experiences to be successful in our modern world.
The key element is balance. For example, in most subscription-based business models, the company wants to reduce churn. When taken to an extreme you get cases like Comcast, where the rep simply didn’t want to let the customer quit. They tipped the balance heavily in favor of the business and not the customer. On the other hand, many small businesses that offer a deal via 4Square or similar sites, provide a significant savings to their customers, but at an exorbitant cost to the business.
How do you know if you are achieving a fair exchange? From the customer point of view, it means being in “Flow.” First introduced by positive psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Flow” is best defined as being “in the zone” or “in the groove.”
In the case of customer experience, “Flow” is the confluence of two factors, control and passion. Control represents the degree to which the customers perceive themselves able to impact and shape their experience. Passion is the significance and pleasure the customer attaches to interacting with the brand. When customers are in “Flow,” they are having emotionally significant and effortless customer experiences. These experiences “just work”. It’s the customer experience manifestation of the “easy” button.
The business side of the Fair Exchange may at first glance appear simple. Does the experience make money? But when you dig a bit deeper you see that companies are trying to drive many different types of outcomes. From a customer service point of view, success may be measured by speed and quality of issue resolution. For ecommerce, it’s a completed transaction. In CPG companies, it’s more about brand affinity and loyalty. And for Comcast, it’s of course just not losing a subscriber.
How do you achieve the Fair Exchange? How do you get your customers in “Flow?” It’s all about being relevant and effortless. As Matthew Dixon wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort – the work they must do to get their problem solved – does.” User-centered design experts have long understood that the simpler you can make a task, the more delighted people are. You don’t need to look any further than the revolution Apple launched with the single button on the iPod and later on the iPhone and iPad. The iPod wasn’t a better MP3 player, but the experience using it was.
The reduction of effort also directly translates into achieving measureable business goals. Again referring to Dixon, “acting deliberately on this insight (reducing effort) can help improve customer service, reduce costs and decrease churn.” When Amazon introduced the “1 click” ordering, it revolutionized online shopping. So much so, Apple licensed it to make iTunes successful. And if it wasn’t for “1-click,” most of us would probably have never downloaded Angry Birds.
Relevance, where does that come in? How many times have you visited a website only to see display ads for the very product you were looking at on another site? But how many times did you see that ad long after you had purchased the product or its competitors? The ads quickly lost their relevance to you because you were no longer shopping for the item. Or how often have you had to scroll through endless content on your smartphone just to get at what was relevant to you at that moment. It’s called context. And if your customer experiences are not contextually aware, they will probably just be ignored like those display ads for the Sharknado video you accidentally ordered while at a party last weekend.
How do you drive relevance? What does it take to make your customer experiences contextually aware? It all starts with asking and being able to answer three basic questions, Who is your customer, What are they interested in and How do they want to engage? Over the next few months I will be writing a series of posts digging into each of these questions and talking about some of the successes we’ve seen by brands who are committed to customer experience and who believe in the Fair Exchange.
This month I begin with a focus on the theme of defining your real audiences; using data driven insights to identify personas, define segments and build actionable profiles. I invite you subscribe, share and give feedback. Welcome to the Tahzoo journey. Shoes optional.