Customer Experience – Product Experience (think Uber, AirBnB, WhatsApp)

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“Falling in love as we know it is an addictive experience” – Susan Cheever

Those of us, who have ever fallen in life, find it hard to explain how it happened and why it happened. Arguably one of the best feelings, it is notoriously difficult to explain in rational scientific terms. Yet, many of us spend a good portion of our lifetimes looking for love, falling in love, trying our best to stay in love and staying close to our loved ones. And we don’t just love people, we love cars, some love certain places, others love food, movies – people have a knack for loving a host of things. But wait – why are we talking about love in a piece titled “Customer Experience”? Because great experiences are similar to love, extremely challenging to engineer but when executed right, can make your customers love you for life. And the reason, they are extremely difficult to engineer is because customer experience is built on human interactions – it’s partly science but mostly emotions. And as the Maslow’s hierarchy tells us – emotional trumps physical any day!

Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

Customer Experience has become so important in recent times that several analyst firms publish regular indices like Forrester’s US Customer Experience Index covering host of industries like airlines, hotels, insurance providers, cable TV providers, couriers, etc. But what if you are not a services organization but a product organization like Facebook, Google, Uber or WhatsApp? Who does the customer call when his WhatsApp is not working or when his Uber keeps crashing? Enter the world of Product Experience – a subset of Customer Experience, heavily studied by industrial design specialists, among others and of immense importance to organizations who cannot afford to (or want to) spend heavily for customer marketing, customer journey mapping or customer service. Ideal for product entrepreneurs as well…

Product Experience is what a consumer remembers about the product through various stages of interaction with the product – purchase, initiating use (opening the box), utilization and disposal. From the perspective of experience, the three dimensions that a product must perform on are – Functional, Sensual and Emotional. These are independent of the business aspects of the product – cost, price and production efficiency (which are equally important attributes).

Functional Experience (Value)

Questions that any product must answer is what is the basic functional human need that it being met by the product? Is it the need for transport, accommodation, knowledge or something else? This is often also referred to as the functional value that is being created by the product.

Sensual Experience

No one likes an ugly looking car regardless of how fast it can run. Beauty may be in eye of the beholder but things must be pleasing to the eye and easy on the ear. Some even believe that smell can evoke experience (like use of amoratherapy in hotels, spas and restaurants). And indeed, people do judge the book by its cover. So tell a good story, solve a great problem but make sure it is good looking and sensually appealing.

Emotional Experience

What emotional response does your product invoke in its user – sense of power, sense of well-being, of belonging, attachment, dislike, pleasure or pride. Given the wide variety of customers you may want to address in a B2C (Business to Consumer) world, there is no one size fits all but still investing the time in studying the reaction of your customers in the environment that they are likely to consume it in Ideo style Design Thinking helps.

Memorability

This is the icing on the cake, proof of the pudding, the holy grail of product experience. Does your product induce a memorable or a forgettable experience in your target customer based on the above 3 dimensions?

So if you design a scale of 1-5 to measure the three dimensions of your product – Functional Experience, Sensual Experience and Emotional Experience along with a way to measure its subsequent memorability, it can provide a good quantitative Product Experience Measurement Framework to estimate the probability of success for your product among your target customers.

So while customer journey mapping may be a good method to preempt the touch-points and consumer reaction to your services throughout the customer life-cycle, a Product Experience Measurement Framework can help you enhance the experience and hence the appeal of your product to your consumers by quantifying the different aspects of experience.

In summary, a great product experience can make someone fall in love and then it becomes like Susan Cheever said, “…addictive…”

Reproduced from the original article published on LinkedIn by the Author

Abhishek Singh
Currently, Abhishek holds the responsibility for conceptualizing, implementing and managing the IT product strategies for Infosys subsidiary, EdgeVerve, in the Digital space. Prior to this, several years at Singapore Airlines as well as his years of entrepreneurship ingrained in him the importance of customer experience.

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