Technology today allows companies to turn to their audiences’ experience instead of focusing on functional challenges. Today, elements such as computing speed or storage are sufficiently available and there is no need to spend a huge amount of resources to improve these. Efforts can now go into other areas, such as orchestrating customer experiences.
The experience threshold is crossed when technology reaches a point of sophistication where product design can engage people’s emotions.
Sophisticated technology products are rapidly changing from being convenience to becoming necessity. Currently products enhance the life of people and even though we would feel inconvenience we could still do without Facebook or Twitter. The more we use and engage with technology the more this is not true anymore. If I rely on digital products and services to pay my bills, to make an appointment at the doctor, to shop online, etc., than these products and services become a necessity to me.
We interact with more and more technology and we will spend more and more time looking at a screen. The quality of technology products will have an ever greater influence in our life and will define our quality of life.
Also, we not only engage with technology in an isolated manner, we are increasingly relying on technology for our social lives which encourages an emotional connection with digital products. Emotions and experience go hand in hand. Usability is a low bar to aim for in a product. Experience has an added value that drives business revenue and decides over the success or failure of a product (experience economy). Customers are no longer satisfied with only goods and service. They Increasingly yearn for things that are meaningful, authentic and transformative. Technology savvy people are most likely to warm up quick to new experiences through technological channels. Because of their frequent use of internet, social media and other technologies, they want something intellectual, social and emotional.
The end of the Spec
Customer feedback is important in the process of crafting this emotionally satisfying and engaging experience and often this factor is even more important than adding more features. When we look at specific examples we can see that adding functions to a product isn’t enough to drive sales.
The Microsoft Zune is a good example. Microsoft’s focus was directed on features, while Apple was selling the experience of using the iPod. Although the iPod had less features then Microsoft’s Zune, the emotional engagement with the iPod was much higher due to clever marketing of the experience of having an iPod. Microsoft didn’t realize that the reflective factor of the experience was much more important to the target customers than the actual features of the product and failed in competing with Apple.
To orchestrate experience is tricky. Experiences are highly subjective, depending on the individual, his/her emotions and the context. UX design focuses a great deal of resources on research into customer preferences, abilities, goals and motivation. When companies ignore this step in the process, their products or services often are doomed to fail.
Advancement in technology eliminates the need to focus resources in making a product “work”. Features and functions are developed sufficiently and companies can direct their time and budget on adding value through experience. Emotional engagement goes hand in hand with experience. Trust and authenticity are vital to build lasting relations with customers.