By Keith Fiveson
We humans think and connect with each other more than ever before. We consume information. We network on social sites; we research our buying decisions; we assess our social values. We value products and services based on experiences. We offer commentary and vote with our dollars and cents. We rate the experience with use and accessibility to websites, visits to stores, conversations, chats, or emails. Was it pleasing, did it inspire us, or did it tire us and serve to frustrate us?
At every touch point – phone, email, person-to-person, chat, or video – consciousness is an essential ingredient to the customer experience and the success of the organization. When people are aware, awake, and in tune with the physical environment, their perceptions sharpen; emotions are aligned. People focus on design, story, and subjective meaning. What is not said is often more important than what is. Experiential design seeks to evoke positive perceptions at every touch point along the customer journey in order to create great experiences.
Using all the senses, Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, created a customer experience that is unique and now experienced worldwide. McDonald’s kitchens were made visible to customers in order to provide a firsthand view of the facility’s cleanliness standards. Hamburgers, French fries, and beverage stalls were strategically positioned to choreograph employee movements that created a perception of “speed-fast food” in customers. Human beings are naturally happy with pleasant, stimulating surroundings, and when such emotions are evoked, they make a lasting impression on the customer and make the experience a special one.
By focusing on consciousness and the customer experience, an organization must look at itself as a complex body of people, processes, and technologies. A company can use the Consciousness Experiential Design Wheel© as a tool to provide perspectives in six key areas of consciousness:
1) Knowledge (mental) – technology, training, process, and procedures
2) Physical environments (physical) – visual themes, colors, smells, sounds, or aesthetics to impact perceptions, moods, decisions, and engagement
3) Emotional quotient (emotions) – the perception of emotion and the use of stories and allegory to identify emotional hot spots to win the favor or support of employees and/or customers
4) Leadership (spirit) – inspiration, communication, transparency, and its use in gaining and winning support
5) Sociability (social) – connections that define and build organizations, internally and externally, through social action, media, and service in community
6) Measurement (insight) – interpretation and use of data, surveys, and analytics to score, assess, and validate experiences against performance goals in order to ideate and innovate
Customer experience is a continuous and conscious process that happens on multiple levels. Implementing a plan that focuses on conscious experiences can be a daunting exercise because of the complexity and simultaneous demands for top priority. The Consciousness Experiential Design Wheel© is a simple, pragmatic approach that looks at key areas of consciousness and experience. A more detailed analysis is then possible to assess customer segments/revenue contribution, tools, and impact. Improving loyalty and lifetime value for both customers and employees does not come without a price. It is an effort that requires leadership and investment.
Keith Fiveson, a driven communications, customer care, operations, transformation consultant, helps clients develop people, using convergence-based technologies to brand, expand, and optimize the customer experience globally.
[From Connection Magazine – Jul/Aug 2011]