After almost a year of determined work my friend Alberto Maestri and I have finally published our last book, of which we are very proud. It’s called Customer Experience Design and it’s about how companies can design memorable brand experiences.
How relevant is this topic? Indeed, its importance can hardly be overestimated. Today all main companies are competing not just in improving their products and services but also in the so-called experience economy. And this new dimension of the economy is more and more digital – meaning that that the most competitive companies are those which succeed in providing highly satisfying online experiences, that are seamlessly connected to the physical ones.
The book contains a lot of references to many authors who in recent times have analysed these developments, providing excellent insights. It also includes a charming preface by Robert Rose and a stimulating final comment by Cosimo Accoto. Compared to the other authors dealing with the same issues, our main point of difference is the special role we assign to all kind of digitally shared experiences.
The customer journey is generally viewed as a path going from awareness to consideration, evaluation, purchase and then a final stage in which people may use social media to share their experience. But in our view the widespread and intensified use of social has disrupted this model. And the new reality is a customer journey that is most often digitally socialized in all its stages: before, during and after the purchasing moment.
Think of going on a weekend trip with Airbnb. Before the trip, you may easily discuss the destination and whether it’s preferable to rely on Airbnb or another hotel/room provider with your social media contacts. Having chosen Airbnb, you book your stay online and may digitally befriend the room host. When at destination, the actual experience of being hosted by a nice guy may be socially shared with your friends. After the trip, you may want to leave a review on Airbnb’s website, that is automatically shared with all new visitors to that destination.
Sounds familiar? If it does, that’s because it is becoming the new norm. And, as Joe Gebbia (one of Airbnb’s two founders) made clear in a Ted talk last year, failure or success will depend on the way you design the experience – the digital one. In their case the right design did not only consist of displaying nice apartments at good prices: it also involved a well-designed reputation system. People may be reluctant to open their homes to guest they have never met, but tend to change their mind if they find a positive mix of reassuring reviews.
In all this, the story that a brand can tell is not inconsequential. Stories are the best way we have to remember an experience and, in turn, when rooted in an experience any story becomes more memorable. (Airbnb’s story is that their system encourages more meaningful human relationships). Thus, we also tried to explore the link between customer experience design and storytelling – which appears a promising field worth further consideration.
The book has just started being distributed. So far, it’s in Italian. The publisher is Franco Angeli, Milano and the ISBN code is 9788891751584. Thanks in advance for your comments!