As brand creators, we all talk about user experience as being at the heart of everything we do. We strive to craft beautiful user experiences at each and every point along the customer journey, but it was a friend and colleague of mine Dean Neill who said something really profound to me the other day... it was one of those moments when you sit up and think... yes, you know what, you are right.
Dean said, ‘surely great user experiences are standard these days, name a company that does not strive to create a good user experience. User experience is no longer a differentiator, is it emotional experience that makes a brand really memorable, makes it stand out from the crowd.’
So what do we mean by Emotional Experience?
An emotional experience is one with feeling, not an off the shelf, cookie cutter, same as everyone else’s experience, but something that really connects with you on an emotional level.
There are brands around the world that do this well, and I will name a few. @virginatlantic, as with many top tier airlines have realised that it is not sufficient to offer good food, a comfortable chair and an on-time service, they have to offer the human touch, one that makes a memory and one that makes you as a customer rebook with that business.
We see it in banking at the Premium Banking level. In Singapore, Banks like @DBS are offering a wonderful, personal service. Where staff are there to make your life easier. To help you and to be your friend in the pressure cooker world we live in. Staff at DBS create magic moments that keep customers loyal and stop them from changing their bank.
But really, when I look at the world of Banking, I do not see the same level a emotional experience that one gets in the hospitality industry - and I should.
Let me explain. This weekend, I stayed at the @sofiteldowntown in Dubai. A new hotel in a city that has a reputation for customer service excellence. What made my stay special, was not the beautiful decor, the alluring scent wafting throughout the building, the fantastic swimming pool... etc... it was the staff... they made me feel welcome... The manager did not know if I was a premium customer or not however, he greeted me personally, gave me his business card and escorted me towards the check in. The service was slick and professional and before I knew it, I was served a drink and being offered a cold towel to chill me after being in the baking heat outside. Within two minutes I was in my room, where as I entered, the @Bose stereo system was playing cool jazz music, the curtains were open and I was greeted with a view of the worlds tallest building silhouetted against a blue sky. A memorable, emotional experience.
So how would this working in a banking environment?
Each bank I meet is striving to deliver technology services, getting their customers out of the branch seems to be the mantra. Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I see this as a huge risk - a tech only experience may be convenient for banks, but unless banks create an Emotional Experience for their customers, they are at risk. As a client who I met last week put it, ‘having a sexy retail space is no longer enough - the people make the place, and unless we give customers a reason to visit us, we will loose them, and loose their business.’
So the future in retailing is a place where businesses offer a beautiful digital experience that is complimented by a very special, physical experience. Where the brand makes a genuine, authentic connection with each and every customer... personally... crafting emotional experiences that matter.
For inspiration, look no further than the over-crowded hospitality space in Dubai. Don’t forget about great service - this should be ubiquitous - look for great staff who understand how to craft genuine moments of magic - by caring about their customers in unconventional, unexpected ways.