Whether B2C or B2B, user experience (UX) is about building the customer-brand relationship. When we use a service or product, we don’t just interact – we connect. The experience you have can even become more important than the product and service itself. It’s all about the emotions.
Moments of truth
When tied to a brand, a positive user experience can build a strong relationship. The user experience often consists of a sequence or combination of brand interactions. In a classic book by former SAS CEO and President Jan Carlzon, these experiences were coined ‘Moments of Truth’.
First published in 1985, Carlzon’s book was later heralded by the American Management Association as “one of the most important developments in management of the twentieth century.” Every little engagement point between the airline and the customer, he wrote, was a moment of truth for the brand. It takes many positive moments to build a strong overall experience, but it will take only one to destroy the entire relationship. User experience, he argued, must be engineered and nurtured from all angles – from booking and check in, to in-flight and arrival.
Carlzon’s ideologies have been credited for SAS’ survival in a highly challenging market. But, they don’t just apply to the airline industry. Google expanded on this thinking a few years ago in defining the zero moment of truth.
The coup felt ’round the world
For one of the best examples of the power of user experience, we can look at Apple’s engineering of the iPad. Based on its specifications alone, many thought that it was destined to fail. The iPad was missing many of the technological features that were standard to computers at the time – like a filing system and USB port – and it was nowhere near the most powerful mobile computing device on the market.
But here was an opportunity that no other company had successfully tapped into: the experience of computing in the human environment. Robust, lightweight and with no moving parts, the iPad can be used while standing and moving. It opened up new opportunities for the user, developers and Apple itself. For the domestic user, the iPad blends well into the home environment – even better than the traditional computer – while performing many of the same popular functions. For users, the device has nearly become an extension of the self.
Apple understood something most of us didn’t: the beauty of the iPad is almost entirely in the user experience – one that is elegant, subtle and at the same time, practical and adaptable. And of course it didn’t take long for Apple’s competitors to follow.
Another brand that has brilliantly redefined user experience is Nespresso. The capsule-based espresso coffee system has practically automated the home café. It has managed to take the mess out of it without compromising a whit of style and sophistication.
The experience goes well beyond the coffee making process, however. Ordering capsules online or walking into one of their sleek and well-staffed boutiques is an informative, efficient and effective process – customers are virtually pampered. Even the company’s website is elegant yet knowledgeable.
Like Apple, Nespresso creates an entire culture around its products, helping (often very average) customers feel like artists and connoisseurs. In this case, the product is basically something you can get on any street corner; it’s the experience that has added to the exponential success of the Nespresso brand.
They’re going to talk about you
Essentially, no matter what your product or service – whether B2C or B2B – it’s clearly worthwhile to celebrate the user experience. It can be done online through a corporate website or blog, or in the traditional mediums such as brochures, custom magazines or even video. Businesses don’t need a store to create an experience that will make customers come back.
Whether good or bad, however, customer experiences – these ‘moments of truth’ – are worth sharing. And, in today’s socially connected age, both will be – with fellow customers, suppliers, stakeholders… and the world beyond.