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A jam-packed room of brand managers, heads of development, insight folks and agency bods came to listen to Contagious 2015. Introduced by Contagious CEO, Paul Kemp-Robertson, the theme was “Obsessing Experience” or as Will Sansom, Contagious Insider, puts it “experience is overused in our industry, it is everything a brand does and stands for, it’s about the promise and making it come alive through the multiple touchpoints available”. Sansom explained a good point that is rarely mentioned, experience is an iterative process (or at least should be), it’s not deciding something once, it’s an ongoing focus on creating new expectations, resetting emotional connections, meeting expectations them and exceeding them through any touchpoint a consumer could be at. Easy to say, harder to do – especially when companies have disjointed systems and unhappy workers.
The morning started with a further of the explanation of the theme before Chris Grantham, IDEO took the stage to talk about brand experience design – an easy task given the IDEO heritage. Grantham discussed ideal experiences of travel (see diagrams) which was interesting but overall the morning focused on Millennial behaviour and technologies – important but not the only demographic and often changes are made to the detriment of other demographics. This made me think about the older generations and experience so I asked a question: “How does this new idea of experience change for older generations?”.
Overall, the answer by the trio surrounded technology although it did touch upon “the little cornershop” mentality that many miss when making changes to their current experience. After all, it cannot just be about bigger buttons as Barclay’s Digital Eagles initiative — cited by the panel — proves.
1. Uber, AirbnB and co aren’t perfect
They just give enough of a shit not to let things slide…do you? Even large companies can leverage technologies to deliver seamless experience without bankrupting themselves – don’t do everything but do what you say you will, well.
2. Don’t try and compete with services that have inflated consumer expectations (unless you actually can)
People have unrealistic expectations – that doesn’t mean you need to strive to meet
them if you’ll fail. Everyone can be better but sometimes changes require a complete reworking – think about what you can achieve in 0-6months, 6-12 months and beyond when thinking about what is possible.
3. Experience isn’t rocket science
You usually need to either remove yourself or immerse yourself. Sometimes the company is just too close to the issues in order to really see what is possible, other times, when working with clients, they need to lean in a bit more and actually see the realities of their experience in order to make necessary changes. When was the last time you went through the experience like a new customer would? Did you do anything because of it?
4. Explore new ways for brands to engage and create value
“Hacking away” was mentioned more than once throughout the morning – a lot of brands do not understand enough about how their products make people feel and what they solve for clients. Keep reducing down so you can build up. The first thing you must do is manage the risk – be honest – there will be tough questions and observations ahead. Go fast, go cheap and build.
5. Experience is not a one time thing
You need to do these excercises yearly – possibly even quarterly. Put together some roles, scenarios and live them. Get other people to live through them, record them and push the boundaries to break things. You’ll learn way more in a short time. It’s hard to do but do not look for the back pat.