Did you know that early phone books included detailed directions on how to use the telephone? For example, a New York City telephone directory from 1885 gave the following instructions:
We can laugh about that passage now; but think about it, in 1885 the telephone was new technology and nobody had any idea how to use one. In fact, even after the telephone had been demonstrated, there was not universal agreement that it had any immediate practical use. The telegraph and other communications options were working just fine, thank you very much.
Today, many organizations have tossed out the owner’s manual as the ability to immediately start using a device or application without instructions is a feature of User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design. However, judging by the number of “For Dummies,” and other how-to books and videos it’s apparent that not all consumer-focused UX/UI design is intuitive. Or for that matter, that the target audience can visualize the new product or service helping them achieve their goals or solve problems. After all, if the product doesn’t align with the customer’s needs and expectations then what’s the point?
President Rutherford B. Hayes to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 on viewing the telephone for the first time:
“That’s an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?”
“Experiences” Create Emotional Events that Accumulate Over Time
A customer need exists because customers are not being satisfied by either current products offered, or alternatives. And being customer-focused, you want to sell your customers what they are asking for. But what would it take to convert people who aren’t customers into customers? And what about B2B situations where the customers (buyers) and users can be different people? When should risks be taken to let pure innovation step forward? Because in today’s economy, getting the phone to ring is no laughing matter for a start-up or small business owner.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
The user experience is interwoven with the total customer experience. And “experiences” create emotional events that accumulate over time. Here are three points to consider as you strive to create your desired customer experience.
- Go back to your marketing 101 course material and review the chapter on Product Life Cycles. The telephone, television and internet are like living organisms. They are born, they live, and at some point they’ll die, or morph into something quite different. The early-market adopters have the ability to visualize usages and view new offerings for their potential advantages. During the introduction stage, many potential buyers must be made aware of the product’s features, uses, and advantages. Digital natives do not represent your free pass through the introduction phase. While they may have a comfort level with technology that doesn’t guarantee they get it. Finally, early-market buyers are generally willing to endure the inconveniences that come with being first-generation customers. But you need to listen to them carefully when they point out your inadequate documentation and missing functionality.
- Also in your marketing 101 material is a chapter on buyer behavior and motivation. There is probably a section on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In short, what motivational appeal are you going for across your customer interaction points? This won’t be easy because touchpoints include stores, telephones, mail, web and every one of those new social media platforms just to name a few. Consumers generally want convenience, freedom of choice and consistency across those channels and touchpoints so you have your work cut out for you.
- Are you presenting facts and figures, or telling a story? Related to buyer behavior and motivation is the fact that people respond to words and pictures in much the same way that they respond to real happenings. We are attracted to stories because we a social creatures. Storytelling has the potential to evoke strong responses to help persuade and change consumer behavior in your favor.