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Showtime! A key component of experience design

by | Sep 9, 2015 | The Workplace

Have you ever looked at your business like it was a Hollywood production? Well maybe you should.

Iwas sitting at a restaurant the other night, waiting for my order and watching the customers and staff interacting, when the movie Big Night came to mind. Big Night is a charming movie starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub about two brothers trying to make a go of their dream restaurant. It is as much, if not more, about the relationship of the brothers than it is about the restaurant business, and I highly recommend it.

As I sat, I remembered how before opening each night the restaurant was put into perefect form, food expertly crafted, silverware aligned, and the staff readied for the entrance of the guests of honor, i.e. their customers. It was this attempt (I say that because part of the plot is how the restaurant falls into disarray) that sticks with me to this day and something I apply to the work I do for clients in the world of experience design.

Showtime!

The world is a stage and we are all actors in it, so the saying goes. And that is never more true than when trying to create a winning experience for customers or users. Meticulous attention to detail combined with a “big picture” view of all the different aspects of your product or service must be a cornerstone of your existence. From the moment a customer walks in the door, you are now in the business of show business. And this isn’t just for service or hospitality businesses. Makers of products need to pay careful attention to how the product functions, how it looks, the packaging it comes in, it’s ease -of-use, and the overall satisfaction that comes from using it—and many other factors as well.

Now it may sound quite daunting and nearly impossible to focus on so much at one time, and if you were hoping I would say otherwise, I am sorry to disappoint. When you think of companies that offer truly amazing experiences, the list is sadly rather small, which is a sign of how tough it is, but also the huge opportunity for your business to become the amazing experience provider in your market.

3 Steps to Becoming a Customer Experience Superstar

1) Casting Call

There are two main actors in this experience design creation as film-making metaphor: the customers (or end-users) and the product (or service) being provided. To become an experience design superstar you have to really understand what the customer goes through when using your product, clicking through your website or visiting your brick and mortar store. And that requires a healthy does of watching them and asking them questions. Some example questions would be:

” Why did you open the package from that end?”

” I see you went all the way around to the other entrance, do you find that easier?”

” When you clicked on that link you skipped over that section. Did that section not offer anything of use for you?”

Once you have asked a lot of questions of your customers and users, you will undoubtedly see immediate opportunities for improvements to make. Now it is a matter of prioritizing and then implementing them.

2) Rehearsal:

Once you have new insights from your customers and users, you need to take those insights and apply them in a systematic way into your operations and processes. For instance, if you have learned that you need to rethink the interface of your new mobile app, then start making prototypes and get more feedback. If you find that visitors to your store have found your layout hard to maneuver, start testing new ones. If your restaurant gets high marks for taste, but low on speed and service, you need to spend time working with your staff in role playing (I know ugh, but it works) or speed training.

3) Bring in a Guest Star:

We all tend to get tunnel-vision in regards to the work we do, and it is hard to sometimes pull back and get that big picture viewpoint I mentioned earlier. It is even harder to change things that have been firmly in place for a long time, even if a newer, better way is staring you right in the face. When that is the case it can make sense to bring in an outside firm to help you do the casting calls and rehearsing needed to improve your “film.”

I am often asked to bring a team in to help with the observation and asking questions work and then to take those insights and formulate plans of action that can be simply implemented. This allows for the owners and managers to continue with their other many daily commitments and then focus on the experience design issues once there are concrete and actionable steps to take. This type of arrangement may make sense for you and your organization as well.

End Credits

Make no mistake that even as the economy hit its lowest depths over the last few years, we have remained a culture of choices and expectations, and with tightening budgets, an even more discerning marketplace. That means that when you have cut costs and lowered prices as low as you can without going out of business, you have to offer more value, and one of the most powerful ways to bring customers value is by providing them with an amazing, show-stopping experience.

“So. quiet on the set, actors take your mark, and Action!”

Robert Westfall

Robert is a writer, behavorial researcher and decision-making consultant. He is the founder of Instinct, a firm specializing in helping organizations be more human focused and planet conscious.  You can learn more about his work at www.TheHumanInstinct.com and follow him at twitter.com/WeAreInstinct

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