Pedro Custódio – The Experience is the Product

The beating heart of services is experiences, argues Pedro Custódio. But your organisation needs to live those values inside and out.

Pedro Custódio is happy to be here – because he can actually explain what he’s doing at last. What he loves doing is designing meaningful experiences and interactions.

The Experience Economy – a 1998 book that set out the principles that still hold. How do you provide differentiation? The battle for features only gives you weeks of advantage. The difference is experiences. It’s very hard to replicate experience, because you need to think about all the experiences that surround the product. They don’t need to be pleasant experiences – they gym is painful and seat, but you feel good afterwards.

A lot of companies think they have an experience strategy. They don’t. 86% of companies say that customer experience is their top priority. 76% improve online, 58% cross channel – and even less mobile. Only 42% say that they digital strategy is co-ordinated with their experience stagey. 64% have customer segments – but only 25% think that is acted on across the company. 62% have a solidly defined brand. Only 32% have the brand drive their experience design. And their are economic factors…

Still, things can only get better.

You need an experience strategy. The danger, if you don’t, is bankruptcy. And the first question is “Who?”. Who are the customers? In which context? What do they want?

Talk about users – not yourself. They are in control. They are more demanding. They expect transparency, because they’ve been trained into it by the web guys. Philips used a social web experiment to collect information on their customers. They collected insights from different parts of the globe.

Question 2: “What?” What do they want? What do they need to experience tasks? What do we need/wish from them?

Question 3: “Where?” Facebook is full of rotten brand experiences, because they’re just there because they feel they should be. Is that the best place for you to be? IKEA understand needs – like a place to drop the kids.

You need to understand the “make or break” points in your offering – and when to say “no”.

Question 4: “How?” How do you live up to expectations? How are you going to put these finding in practice? He’s seen companies that describe themselves as “simple” with a 34 step registration process. Experience is the sum of all the interactions. Experience is emotional – we are emotional beings. The psychology of sound is important. The sounds of the “quiet” carriage on the Heathrow Express are awful – they make him stressed.

Good experiences are consistence and repeatable, but not boring. It becomes part of your life. It communicates – and can challenge and reward you. It needs a good story behind it – and that needs to be lived within the company. You can’t be simple on the outside if you’re complicated or chaotic on the inside.

Embrace the experience cycle – the goal is not a sale, but a relationship (that leads to more sales). Everyone in the organisation needs to “breathe the same air”. The team need to be completely aligned.

There are financial drivers behind this. There is the chance to sell more to the best consumers, if we give a great experience. People will pay for better, faster, more efficient service.

Services is about serving people. It might seem very simple – but if you put yourself in the position where you need to serve, you will serve with a smile.