On the Relevance of Lifestyles in Service Design

Customers and the end users of services are obviously the best people to evaluate their experiences. This is the reason why the design of any new, innovative product or service should always be based on in-depth research on their lives, aspirations, desires and needs. By this kind of material I do not mean only data and analytics, but also qualitative interviews, or other extensive research, on people’s daily lives and habits.

Most service design methods are firmly based on the initial research conducted.

Research on people’s preferences should always be based on several in-depth-interviews, or alternatively, extensive analytics, or other quantitative material on the potential customer’s lives and lifestyles.

In literature on sociology, marketing and consumption, discussions of customer experience are closely linked with the concept of lifestyle.

And correspondingly, questions concerning value construction, lifestyle and taste lay at the core of most service design research methods.

The sociologist Antoine Hennion has written about taste as “a reflexive activity”, and as “a collective technique”. Questions of taste define our choices to a certain extent, and should not be overlooked.

Hennion says that analyzing taste helps us to understand the various ways we make ourselves sensitized to objects, to ourselves, to situations and to moments – while simultaneously controlling how those feelings might be shared and discussed with others.

Hennion has also defined amateurs as connoisseurs who have “a spiritual enthusiasm” for the things they do. In my experience, this kind of enthusiasm for a certain lifestyle is shared amongst like-minded people.

It makes perfect sense to limit initial research objectives to certain customer segments, and choose the people interviewed and researched based on their overall lifestyle, interests and enthusiasm.

Individuals are, of course, essentially, very social creatures. They do not live in a void – nor are they steady members of certain consumer segments for the rest of their lives. Furthermore, we all live in a rapidly evolving world, with technology taking huge strides all the time.

The properties of a certain product or service re-evaluated and tweaked, after the initial iteration. Service design and qualitative research on lifestyles of consumers can be of assistance in this phase as well.

The lifecycle of any iteration of a digital product or service should also perhaps be considered limited.

The image below describes the situation from the viewpoint of a design team. This picture has been initially published in a book called “The Convivial Toolbox: Generative Research for the Front End of Design” (2013) by Elizabeth Sanders and Pieter Jan Stappers.

 

 

On Personalization and Generating ROI Online

According to the recent Salesforce “State of Marketing” report that surveyed 4 000 marketing leaders worldwide, by 2021, around 75% of marketing budgets will be spent on digital marketing efforts.

So what kind of marketing efforts are the most effective when it comes to online marketing?

This, of course, depends on the customer segments you reach out to, and the desired return of investment of each channel. Mobile is becoming increasingly important, of course. But I will give a few pointers more.

It is a well-known fact that standard display ads are not actually viewed by anyone online in around 50% of the cases. According to many sources, the average click-through rate of a standard banner ad is around 0.12-0.14 %. As the use of ad blockers is on the rise, it is gradually becoming even more difficult to deliver relevant ads to potential and returning customers online. This is one reason why the app industry is so big now.

Around 30% of all Finnish people currently use this kind of software, with the same figure now being over 50% among Finnish youth. I use this kind of software myself, only occasionally turning it off for any site.

According to Contently, however, data-driven marketing efforts lead to revenue increases for over 50% of the marketers, and over 75% of marketers generated positive returns from content marketing.

As often cited, content is still king, and in the online kingdom, it seems that context is queen.

Creating original content that will be displayed in the relevant context matters, and so it will in the future too. This is where search engine marketing and optimization via keywords and metadata come in.

In case your team still has no segmented content strategy, I think you should definitely create one soon.

Personalizing online content drives revenue, and this is evident based on this year’s Salesforce report.

The Salesforce “State of Marketing” report breaks the marketing teams surveyed to three categories: underperformers, that are “slightly” or “not at all” satisfied with their current marketing outcomes, moderate performers, that are “very” or “moderately” satisfied, and high-performers, that are “extremely” satisfied with their marketing outcomes. Of the 4000 teams surveyed, only 18% fall into the last category.

According to this year’s report, 83% of the high-performing marketing teams worldwide use customer data to segment or target ads. 79% of these teams currently employ some form of predictive intelligence in their marketing, with 49% of these marketing teams reporting extensive usage of online personalization.

This is what high-performance inbound online marketing now and in the very near future is all about.

Asking to subscribe an email newsletter or registering in order to download original content makes all the difference. An easy-to-find, easy-to-fill, concise contact form with questions on some basic demographic information is needed, of course, in order to get a segmented, up-to-date customer register together.

I find the increasingly common pop-ups asking to supply any information really annoying, and would thereby recommend that the contact information or registration form is included at the very front page of your company, or alternatively, appearing right next to your most popular pieces of content.

A/B testing different landing pages with a contact form is a very useful technique to ensure, that the bounce rate and churn rates are kept to a minimum, and you are getting people to sign up and stay.

It is paramount to collect behaviour-based data as well.

Google Analytics will deliver detailed reports on website visitors, as long as the Tag Manager is utilized to its full potential, and aligned with the selected attribution models of monitoring the customer journey.

When optimizing and personalizing, it is good to keep in mind that the majority of any first-time website visitors, especially those that are browsing the site mobile, are unlikely ready to be your customers – and it is likewise unlikely that they will ever convert, if the initial call-to-action is missing. So there must be something easy-going for these visitors to do besides making a purchase. Liking or sharing website content in social media are examples of such actions.

And naturally, returning visitors are likely be more satisfied, if you can target them with some form of optimized content. If and when the conversion happens, this should, of course, also be acknowledged – for example by a simple “Thank you” note and by simultaneously giving the customers a chance to give immediate feedback on their experience. In the ideal situation, after the initial conversion happens, the customers are also offered some relevant, personalized content in the newsletter and at the website.

I found this infographic on the online marketing environment below in a SlideShare presentation – the size of each circle is representative of the approximate ROI of each channel. This image was created in 2014. I firmly believe we will observe a significant increase in the SEM and SEO & Content ROI over a few years.

digitalmarketingbw

Read the article “Your Content Is Outstanding But Is It Standing Out?” by Sanjeev Nambudiri:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/your-content-outstanding-standing-out-sanjeev-nambudiri

With BuzzSumo, you can find out about today’s content trends and see how your content is performing: http://buzzsumo.com/

Website Grader, powered by HubSpot, is a nice, free tool for rating your website’s overall performance: https://website.grader.com/

On Brand Advocacy and the Transcendent Customer Experience

How to create brand advocacy through customer journey mapping? And what kind of a customer experience do strong brand communities promote?

Brendan Richardson, the author of “Tribal Marketing, Tribal Branding”, has stated that “the fundamental purpose of the marketer who seeks to engage with contemporary communities of consumption in whatever form is to identify, and where appropriate and possible, support the linking values that unite these communities” and to thus “facilitate” the “transcendent customer experience”.

In a paper entitled “Transcendent Customer Experience and Brand Community”, John W. Schouten, James H. McAlexander and Harold F. Koenig have stated that “Transcendent customer experiences (TCEs), which have aspects of “flow and/or peak experience”, can generate “lasting shifts in beliefs and attitudes, including subjective self-transformation” while “delivering a particularly strong form of brand loyalty.”

Brand advocacy is, naturally, the most mature level of customer commitment here, and that is always based on shared values.

A flow experience, according to psychologist Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, produces a state of transcendence, a suspension of temporal reality, and a sense of separation from the mundane, and a sense of unity with some higher plane of experience, whereas, similarly, a peak experience, as discussed by Abraham Maslow, is characterised as a sudden epiphany – both signifying a connection to a something outside the self.

Skydivers, for example, according to Schouten, McAlexander and Koenig, “report consistent types of extraordinary experience, beginning with the thrill of first time engagement” and “progressing through milestones of personal achievement and periods of individual and shared transcendence”.

According to the authors, furthermore, it is shown in studies that people engaging in outdoor activities “report dramatic life- or perspective-altering transformations in themselves”.

So what do skydivers essentially experience?

I went out with a skydiving guy a few years ago, and could not help but wonder. Extreme sports is definitely not for me. However, I can easily agree on this one when it comes to the experience of biking or hiking outdoors in the middle of nature, for example.

All of this may seem to have a religious undertone to it.

Maslow’s view on religion, however, was somewhat blunt.

According to Maslow, a religion mainly exists to provide a framework for understanding the ephemeral, ineffable nature of the experience. And the function of a religious institution, according to Maslow, is to offer texts, symbols, rituals, and a community that can act as triggers for future transcendent experiences.

Now let’s take a step back, and discuss the triggers in relation to an outstanding customer experience.

The triggers of such an experience are individual and vary – but these may include, for example, a sense of a personal crisis, a sense of romance or a sense of encountering “exceptional beauty”. McAlexander and Schouten have identified that in relation to consumption, the triggers may include sensory experiences, such as experiencing sights, sounds and smells; or a sense of “unexpectedly gratifying interpersonal encounters”, and also, intriguingly, a sense of “personal achievement” that “exceeds people’s expectations”.

It seems that great customer experiences have the power to significantly enhance people’s relationships with other people, as well as their relationship with objects, as the authors of this article suggest.

The research cited above clearly indicates that “customers desire to transcend mundane consumerism”.

This tendence is typical of strong brand communities.

The authors of this paper also refer to the dark, addictive and escapist side of the customer experience.

Colin Campbell, for example, has written about what he calls the “romantic” modern consumerism as a type of addiction, in his view caused by the global advertising industry that caters for fantasies. Max Weber’s critique of capitalism is, of course, a primary reference here.

I find brand communities and the concept of a transcendent customer experience to be ripe with yet untapped, hidden potential for promoting a more sustainable lifestyle worldwide, especially among millennials. At the end of the day, the brands that promote a healthy, happy planet may generate stronger communities and more loyal customers than brands that do not pay attention to sustainability issues.

About the Future of Online Shopping

I had a sudden urge to write about the future of online retail and shopping online. What kind of trends will shape the future of online buying?

According to Google, most online customer journeys now span at least five different channels. Furthermore, most people shopping online view and compare the items they wish to purchase multiple times before making the final decision.

Around 50% of the Finnish people are using the mobile internet on a daily basis. During the last 10 years, the overall time an average Finnish person spends online has doubled, and is now over 10 hours per week. And 80% of all Finns are also shopping online.

My latest online purchase was made in Zalando yesterday.

This company was founded in Berlin in 2008, and in Europe’s scale, Zalando has been a success story beyond comparison in fashion retail. And it all started with the idea of a convenient and simple way to purchase shoes online — and with an extensive research carried out on the needs of the customers shopping for footwear.

In the Zalando corporate website, it is stated that shopping fashion is, “above all, an emotional event – it is the emotional experience that turns clothes into your new favourite outfit, with the first impression being just as important as a detailed presentation. — That’s why it was clear from the start that the Zalando store would focus on a high-quality, professional and consistent product presentation.”

Still headquartered in Berlin, Zalando now has a creative tech hub location here in Helsinki. The buying office is located in Paris, the fashion capital of the world.

But what is most important regarding the company’s success is the Zalando website infrastructure, which really makes shopping very convenient and effortless. High-quality photos of each product are found with multiple sorting options, and there are detailed descriptions for more than 150 000 products available.

Another factor that makes Zalando one of the most attractive fashion retail stores online is the amount of effort put in offering personalized content to each customer.

I firmly believe this kind of personalization is a major aspect of the future of online shopping. As privacy issues are still of no consequence for many people online, the websites they visit receive a steady flow of information on the customer’s preferences via the browser software.

Last week, this blog turned 9 months old. I decided to buy a domain for the site, so you can also find this blog directly via the URL http://lifeofaplanner.fi. The blog currently features 30 posts, including this one. I attempt to publish around 3 posts each month.

“Experience economy” has been a recurring theme in this blog in relation to digital service design.

My most popular post so far has been “Designing for Happiness”, inspired by the IXDA 2016 event in Helsinki, and written a few months back (https://iiriskblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/designing-for-happiness/).

In that post, I briefly introduced Stephen Anderson’s “User Experience Hierarchy of Needs”, and stated that “the products and services that make people happy must be functional, reliable, and usable, but moreover, they must be convenient, pleasurable and meaningful.”

To recap the most important statement of that post, I think it is safe to say that the most meaningful things in life are, of course, the things we love – the things that make us happy.

And tapping into the potential for happiness is definitely worth the effort of creating personalized content for each customer segment, even for each customer online via an algorithm at the website.

Yet the online customers also expect an element of surprise and serendipitious discovery.

Adidas recently ventured to launch “Avenue A”, a box subscription service. Every Avenue A box is designed and curated by a celebrity fitness artist, such as Nicole Winhoffer. The subscriber receives 4 boxes per year, each featuring a mix of 3 to 5 Adidas items. The Summer 16 edition will ship with Adidas MiCoach Fit Smart watch. All for the price of $150 per box.

While some of us shop for more and more new clothes online, others are now purchasing little-worn clothes and accessories over the internet.

San Fransisco -based ThredUp is a website with the slogan “Secondhand clothes. Firsthand fun.” And a plethora of rare vintage items are still being sold through eBay. I recently also purchased my very first piece of clothing made solely of recycled textile fibres. Major brands, the Swedish Ikea perhaps as the most striking example of this trend, are now concerned about the reuse of their products.

According to the “JWT: The Future 100” Trend Report for this year, consumers are beginning to “join the dots” in multiple areas of their consumption patterns and lifestyles. “Across all sectors, consumers are differentiating between brands based on concern for the environment“, states the report. “Brands, once judged on their desirability and products, are now being judged on their value systems, on whether they are innovators, on whether they are promising to change the world”.

The Rituals brand, for example, recently launched its “30 Days of Good Karma” campaign online. The campaign highlights that the Rituals brand is there to help us “slow down, and to find happiness in the smallest of things”. And what better way to do so, than to stop shopping online or elsewhere for any unnecessary and non-environmental-friendly items. Rituals also offers a free app to aid meditation and mindfulness practice – and the same app will let you conveniently order more Rituals products.

Perhaps the future of online retail will be in the hands of whoever will be making it easy and memorable to make more conscious, healthy, environmental-friendly — and ultimately — more sustainable choices.

 

Flow and Seductive Interactions

How to create an engaging website and increase conversion rates?

According to psychologist Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, great websites are really not about navigating content – they are all about staging an experience. The key, says Csíkszentmihályi, is a finely tuned sense of rhythm, involvement, and anticipation known as “flow”.

Csíkszentmihályi has famously stated that flow is “– being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

In a book called “Seductive Interaction Design”, Stephen Anderson takes a similar approach to designing sites and interactions, based on the psychological stages of seduction. I recently purchased a copy of this book.

In the very first chapter, Anderson lists four different aspects of an engaging and seductive experience:

  • Sequencing — we are more likely to take action when complex tasks are broken down into smaller tasks.
  • Appropriate challenges — we delight in challenges, especially ones that strike a balance between being overwhelming and being boring.
  • Status — we constantly assess how interactions enhance or diminish our standing relative to others and our personal best.
  • Achievements — we are more likely to engage in activities in which meaningful achievements are recognized.

I think each one of these factors is crucial in relation to increasing conversion rates. To me, it is sequencing that seems like the most important aspect. The tasks performed online may be complex – just consider the process of purchasing a pair of new sneakers from an online store, for example. Sequencing is especially important, when conversions require for several fields to be completed in an online form, for example.

As for the rest of the aspects, appropriate challenges certainly motivate us to take action, status is very desirable, and is what really makes us want to use the product or service, and we are definitely most likely to engage in activities when our personal demographics and previous achievements are recognized.

Applying the concept of “flow”, an engaging website presents us with personalized, interesting challenges, encourages us to take action, gives a sense of an elevated status, and highlights our achievements.

It seems to me, that all of this correlates with the emerging trends. Personal improvement is one of the key megatrends at the moment. Wearable technology is gaining in popularity, healthy foods are trending, self-help and motivational literature is increasingly being published, and new forms of physical exercise are on the rise, just to point out a few examples.

Considering this, and the concept of “flow”, the most desirable digital service design now, and the kind that increases conversions, is the type that ultimately caters for the customer’s personal improvement, while giving us a sense of a true “flow experience” of micro-moments while performing relatively complex tasks.

Designing for Happiness

Last week, I visited several design agencies in conjunction with the IXDA Helsinki Open Studios 2016 event. The most important takeaway of this event, in addition to making new friends, was to visit the various agencies in the field of digital service design, see what they are working on, and how. I met many interesting people, while getting insight on the latest developments in this field by Solita, Fjord, Futurice and Reaktor.

Digital agencies are more and more design-driven, which is excellent. We ultimately need better products and services, and this is why design should be deeply integrated into digital strategy, and not function merely as a subset of other functions. In many organizations, design is still considered a separate silo. Design is increasingly applied, but it seems to me we have yet to reach design-driven maturity.

Nevertheless, it seems there is also a lot of hype involved. As more and more companies start investing in design, and while many happily outsource these functions, it is crucial to keep being focused on the customer experience, and not overlook getting insight on their behavior through proper research and analytics. Getting the relevant analytics and research together must precede the design process.

It is tempting to manage the customer experience based on what is already known about the current customer behavior and the current analytics, but what we don’t know about customers and what we think we know about customers is important as well. Thinking about these other two factors, it is paramount to define the strategic target. Focusing on a specific strategic target in relation to the specific customer profiles and segments is what makes all the difference here.

After gathering the data, I think it is best to start out by asking, how to make this customer happy?

Once the analytics and research is sufficient to answer the three questions listed above, it should be relatively easy to identify the touchpoints that matter most. I dislike the term “moments of truth”, but the key takeaway here is to identify when customers pause for a moment, evaluate the experience, and make crucial decisions. Addressing the customer’s needs on such touchpoints and investing on augmenting and delivering an emotion-based experience on each touchpoint of this type makes for an engaged customer.

The strongest emotion-based experiences often take place when the needs of the customer are not met. Then, the customer has a problem. The pain points, however, should be viewed as key opportunities to create an outstanding customer experience. The customer may be confused, or having negative emotions. To give a prime example of such a touchpoint, this is when they contact the company’s customer service.

Making this kind of “moments of truth” a competitive advantage should be set as one of the goals of customer journey mapping. We have all had experiences such as this, with different outcomes.

Customer experience management taken to the next level, however, for me, is all about designing for innovations. Customer journey mapping, for example, may generate many new ideas and concepts. The key here is to involve the customers in the design process, and getting together the relevant people in the organization to envision the ideal journey of the customer.

I personally prefer to have a workshop or a series of workshops based on analytics and in-depth research.

As a final touch, turning customer experience management into compelling materials for the rest of the organization should not be overlooked. To give an example, the customer journey map may be turned into a compelling visual story. How the results are communicated within the organization matters.

Many large companies are now sporting internal innovation labs, while many others still have to outsource design thinking. Nevertheless, there is a whole new paradigm: a design-driven “experience economy”. Flipping through annual trend reports for any business, this shift is evident. The Fjord Trend Report 2016, for example, states that “design is making huge strides”. Furthermore, it states that “– We’re seeing the largest companies bring the practice of design in-house.” But what I like best, is the statement that “designing for happiness resonates at the core of many of our trends”.

Happiness. It is sometimes hard to measure, yet it seems to me as the most relevant goal of design. In addition to being what is trending now, it is what will trend in the future too. Ultimately, it all comes down to the question – what is it that your company doing in order to make the world a better place?

I think here Stephen Anderson’s User Experience Hierarchy of Needs is a prime reference here. The products and services that make people happy must be functional, reliable, and usable, but moreover, they must be convenient, pleasurable and meaningful.

And the most meaningful things in life are, of course, the things we love – the things that make us happy.

See Stephen Anderon’s User Experience Hierarchy of Needs: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/8a/2e/4a/8a2e4ae07d445e94c00df25cfa4c5ea4.jpg

On the Transformative Potential of Art Online

So I took part in a seminar exploring the potential of digital art collections organized by the Finnish National Gallery yesterday.

Many of the talks given in the event seemed to echo the industry expert Jasper Visser’s words: “the future of museums is about attitude, not technology”. I could not agree more.

I think the same goes for many private sector’s most successful companies now embracing digitalization and the multi-channel digital customer experience. Attitude matters.

The excellent keynote speakers in this seminar were Merete Sanderhoff from the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen and Jussi Ängeslevä from the University of Arts in Berlin.

One of the best takeaways of the seminar was a complimentary copy of the book “Sharing is Caring – Openness and Sharing in the Cultural Heritage Sector”, edited by Sanderhoff, as well as getting a glimpse of Art+Com Studio’s (https://artcom.de/) mind-blowing large-scale digital installations in various exciting museums around Europe.

In her presentation, Sanderhoff stated that the facilitation of the re-use of digital cultural heritage, mainly images of artworks, is now one of the core tasks in the SMK, permeating the organization on all levels.

With the collections of any art museum being vast in comparison to which part of them can be shown at the physical site (in the case of the SMK, for example, approximately 1%, and in the case of the FNG, around 2%), focusing on the display of the digital material online and its creative re-use should indeed be a priority on all levels of any museum organization.

Ängeslevä introduced the seminar crowd to some of Art+Com team’s fantastic – and in some cases phantasmagoric – large-scale digital installations, while strongly emphasizing that attempting to construct any such installation requires a lot of “focus” and “attitude” and must incorporate “a meaning”.

This, to me, is most evident in the case of the “Evolutionary Stairs”, an installation in Moesgård Museum in Højberg, Denmark, where, descending a staircase in the museum, our ancestors are being displayed as wax figures, and in the case of the “Micropia”, a museum of microscopic life, in the Natura Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Being two very different projects, what these installations have in common is the agenda to help the viewer better understand themselves and their surroundings. A simple agenda, yet a very powerful one.

After the seminar, I visited Kiasma’s ongoing “Demonstrating Minds” –exhibition, as well as Jani Leinonen’s exhibition “The School of Disobedience”, finally, as there is only one week left to explore it.

Leinonen’s gravestones of various global brands being on display in the museum’s uppermost floor, in conjunction with the beggars’ signs seemed to me as some of his most touching work, with the various cereal box works (like “The Choice Is Yours”, 2011) still being the absolute personal favourites of mine.

In the “Face to Face” exhibition, Stiina Saaristo’s “Scarlet”, 2004, and Aurora Reinhard’s “Cosmetics & Accessories”, 2008-2012, seemed to be exploring similar themes as Leinonen’s seminal work.

In the likewise interesting group exhibition “Demonstrating Minds”, Tom Molloy’s “Protest”, 2010 came through to me as one of the most powerful works, while there were many other excellent works dealing with current global political issues, especially the crisis in Middle-East, on display.

Art certainly inherently wields the power to help us better understand ourselves and our surroundings.

However, in order to start being and remain accessible for anyone interested in exploring it, art quite obviously needs to be presented in a beautiful, enticing online environment and thrive in the form of quality images and open data, available for re-use by the general public, creatives and others.

This kind of meaningful content is what matters, as most technological innovations are usually about “just another device”, designed to display some interesting data or some other interesting content in.

What makes all the difference is the attitude of art museum professionals.

In the book “Sharing Is Caring”, Jasper Visser states that “every organization grounded in society should understand their implications on society and vice versa”. Furthermore, he states that when “implemented naively”, technology “may amplify existing inequalities”.

So can art museums effectively act as a catalyst of an increased level of awareness of global issues and thereby help individuals be the change they want to see in the world?

I think it is only by having quality content available online that art museums can start catering globally for transformative experiences, the kind that make art itself so powerful – the experiences of increased understanding of ourselves and our environment.

On the Properties of the Content that Rocks

By now, everyone is doing it. I think it is safe to say that content marketing does not make any difference. What matters is compelling content.

According to Google, 90% of any customer journeys now span at least five different channels. A very fundamental goal in content marketing should be to reach the customer on each relevant touchpoint over the journey. But in addition to reaching out to the right people at the right time, what does it take for content to create an impact?

I recently wrote in this blog about the need for proper content management. Content remains king, and for content to rule, content management is very important.

But I said very little about what best content is made of.

As a rule of thumb, of course, all of the content online must be very brief, focused, distinctive and memorable. And in order to create leads, there should be a clear call to action involved.

Making it a point to set these parameters as your internal content goals makes a lot of sense.

Identifying your own goals is of course important, but what really makes all the difference when it comes to your content, is identifying the goals of the target audiences. People are rarely online just browsing and prowling around, in fact, in the most common case they are online in order to get something done, and using a search engine or one of their favourite sites to do that.

And this is when your content must come through as compelling.

Successful content meets the target audiences needs and attempts to fulfill them. Based on the identified goals of each customer segment, it should be easy to plan the general themes that will be discussed with the target audience, and to start creating the editorial calendar. The customer’s goals may be quite abstract in some cases, and, of course, in some cases they are not.

It seems to me, however, that the abstract goals related to purchasing a product or using a service dominate our decision-making over the customer journey. According to Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, the authors of the “Experience Economy”, the most desirable customer experiences, and the ones that we are also willing to pay more for, are ”transformative” in nature, employing our emotions.

Emotions dominate most aspects of our lives. Having multiple devices with internet access does little in the way of solving our emotional issues. But the content we connect with online can certainly be of assistance here. Tapping to the power of the positive emotions and focusing on the potential for a transformative customer experience is what should drive content creation.

Read more about the overarching trends that will shape next year in content marketing: http://hub.uberflip.com/h/i/160667652-7-ways-content-marketing-will-evolve-in-2016

 

On the Relevance of the Balanced Scorecard

The balanced scorecard, BSC for short, revolutionized conventional thinking about performance metrics.

The BSC complements the financial measures with three sets of operational measures having to do with customer satisfaction, internal processes, and the organization’s ability to learn and improve–the activities that drive future financial performance.

Robert Kaplan and David Norton first introduced the concept already in 1992, but it seems that the method is still very relevant. Gartner Group suggests that over 50% of large US firms have now adopted the BSC.

When constructing a BSC, I think the Customer Perspective should be thought of first. The overall customer experience is a major issue in any business. The process begins by setting measurable, and attainable goals.

I think the traditional Financial Perspective must come second to the Customer Perspective.

This is because otherwise, we might end up overlooking the customer’s point of view.

Kaplan and Norton describe the innovation of the balanced scorecard as follows:

“The balanced scorecard retains traditional financial measures. But financial measures tell the story of past events, an adequate story for industrial age companies for which investments in long-term capabilities and customer relationships were not critical for success. These financial measures are inadequate, however, for guiding and evaluating the journey that information age companies must make to create future value through investment in customers, suppliers, employees, processes, technology, and innovation.”

This is especially true, when we set out to refine the Internal Business Process Perspective and the Learning & Growth Perspective. Focusing on the internal business processes encourages the identification of measures that answer the question “How can we continue to improve, create value and innovate?”

The balanced scorecard method comes in handy in strategy mapping. But most importantly, it comes in handy when translating the organization’s vision and strategy into an action plan.

The balanced scorecard can be applied in any organization, not just those that are making profit, but in non-profit organizations as well.

At my current workplace, for example, we have succeeded in applying it to digital service design.

To me, the BSC still seems like one of the best tools to apply in turning the strategy into a roadmap for the future.

Space for an Engaging Experience

Click, click, click. Your brand, company or organization may attract one million or more visitors to its website annually, but how do these visits eventually turn into revenue?

I think that conducting quantitative or qualitative research on customer experience is a fundamentally critical factor in turning the organization’s website visitors – be they passers-by or returning – into customers and later on into brand advocates.

Using this approach has the benefit of being able to better anticipate customer needs and desires and adopt to the mindset of the customer. Customer experience, in short, is the cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints over the customer journey, which result in an emotion-based relationship feeling, or lack of it. Now that the numerous different digital services have multiplied the potential touchpoints, lack of proper customer experience management may have disastrous results for the brand.

“Customer experience … is a fundamental dimension of how a company competes”, says Joseph Pine, who has coined the term in 1999 in his book entitled “The Experience Economy”, co-authored by James Gilmore. Pine underlines the importance of the shift from service economy into experience economy. This shift may be as remarkable as or even more important than the shift from selling commodities to making and marketing goods.

The importance of research cannot be overrated here. It is precisely getting to know your customers and having a discussion with them that helps you better understand their journey.

Once you have the results from the research, be it extensive quantitative material or in-depth interviews with selected few, it is possible to start mapping and managing the customer experience.

This can be done, for example, by creating customer profiles. The customer profiles may help in identifying the customer journeys that really matter, and vice versa.

Creating a customer journey canvas can also be a useful tool here.

What the customer of the 21st century expects now when purchasing a product or using a service, is, most of all, to have an engaging experience.

I think that creating this kind of emotion-based experiences should be the main area of expertise in the Museum Industry for these institutions to keep attracting customers in the future. Most major art institutions have indeed been very successful in creating an environment where this kind of engaging experiences take place. However, when it comes to their online services, not so many museums seem to have put so much effort in creating a space for exceptional engagement.

How to make the magic happen online?

I have no easy solution for this one, but creating digital customer profiles based on extensive research may be the best starting point in creating a composed customer experience. Having a streamlined digital strategy and implementing it throughout the organization is also needed.