Every day, we are inundated by messages, multiple channels and inputs, including as many as 5,000 marketing and advertising messages in one day. On average, people spend up to four hours each day on their smartphones. The average adult watches upwards of five hours of television a day.
Clutter, noise, and complexity now encompass everyone's journey every day. Which raises the question: How can something stand out among the competition and commotion? The answer is to create a simple, useful, and streamlined Ideal User // Customer Experience.
“A general 'law of least effort' applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.”
― Daniel Kahneman, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”
As everyday life becomes ever more complex, it is increasingly important to create an Ideal User // Customer Experience by focusing on personalization, usefulness, streamlining, and simplicity. By focusing on the three previously mentioned pillars, Ideal User // Customer Experiences ultimately decrease user and customer frustration and increase satisfaction. In turn, satisfied users become loyal users, and loyal users provide higher long-term value for businesses. The Global Brand Simplicity Index (2017) and Gartner indicate that:
- 64% of people are willing to pay more for an Ideal User // Customer Experience.
- 61% of people are more likely to recommend a brand because it provides an Ideal User // Customer Experience.
- Organizations that have fully invested in personalization will outsell companies that have not by 20%
- 80% of marketers say that a personalized experience is more effective at retaining and engaging with Users // Customers.
A personalized experience is one that is custom tailored to a specific user // customer; an experience that increases the value, connection, and contextual relevancy. Personalization is about adapting to and predicting the needs, wants, and desires of the user // customer, based on their interests and preferences to deliver a compelling, connected experience.
Personalization helps establish connections, enhances engagement, and provides contextual relevancy.
A useful experience is one that can be leveraged for a practical purpose, or that has several applications for the user // customer. The usefulness of the experience is what gives people a reason to engage – if the product, service, business, or offering isn’t useful, people won’t find value in it.
the user // customer experience is the next competitive battleground.
A streamlined experience is one in which an organization or system is made more efficient and effective through faster or simpler methods. Streamlining is about distilling the most important aspects of the experience in order to better meet or exceed customers’ needs or wants, making the experience more compelling, useful, and relevant.
confusion and Clutter are attributes of failure, not attributes of success.
A simple experience is one that is easily understood or performed; presenting no difficulty. Simple experiences drive loyalty by enabling pleasant, easy, and repeat interactions, empowering people through clarity, removing pain points and by reducing confusion. When confusion is reduced, consumer defections decrease.
Simplicity both eliminates the unnecessary and enhances the necessary.
Constructing and growing the ideal user // customer experience
There are five key steps to making an experience successful:
Get people in the Experience
Get your audience aware, interested, and into your experience. Give people good reason to seek out, engage, and use your experience instead of the competition's. Leverage incentives, memberships, communities, promotions, trials, and user referrals (among other tactics) to entice your user base to get started in the experience. Understanding your customers’ wants, needs, and desires will help deliver an experience above and beyond sheer usefulness.
Grow and Extend the experience
Give people every reason to stay. Once people are involved with your business, product, or service, grow the experience in ways that will directly benefit your users. Leverage personalization to enhance and connect with people. Strategically expand services and offerings to help create a stronger connection. Make the experience you offer something your users have good reason to come back to — and, more importantly — that they will want to come back to.
help people establish roots
Construct an Ideal User // Customer Experience so compelling that people won’t want it to end. Design a customer-centric experience that fosters loyalty; the best customer experience will beat out the competition. (As noted above, while price can be a competitive differentiator, many users // customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.) Users // Customers are quick to switch to a competitor if they feel dissatisfied or if their experience isn't personalized; the more invested people are in your experience, the more they will come to rely on it, and the less dissatisfaction they will feel.
Streamline and Simplify — Design for Habit
Eliminate Roadblocks: Consider roadblocks to be large obstacles that completely inhibit people from starting, continuing, or engaging in the experience.
Remove Hurdles: Consider hurdles to be medium-sized obstacles that make it hard for the user to complete or re-start their journey.
Reduce Friction: Consider friction areas as small pain points or speed bumps that might cause user frustration and might detract from the overall experience.
Practice Continuous Optimization
Learn, adapt, and optimize as you go. As both your experience and user base grow, it's important to monitor audience needs and expectations and any external competition. Leverage qualitative and quantitative consumer research and strategic data to identify what's working, what isn't working, what could be better, and what facets of the experience could be streamlined. It's important to acknowledge that continuous optimization can also include removing under-performing aspects.
In Summary: straight to the point
The more useful your experience is directly influences the value that users // customers will find in it. The more simple your experience is directly influences the amount of frustration your users // customers will find with it. The more streamlined your experience is directly influences the ease of use your users // customers will find. The more personal your experience is directly influences how users // customers will connect with it.
- Focus on creating an Ideal User // Customer Experience that is Personalized, Simple, Streamlined, and Useful.
- Get People in the Experience: Get your audience aware of, interested in, and into your experience.
- Grow and Extend the Experience: Give people every reason to stay.
- Help People Establish Roots: Make the experience so compelling that it's hard for people to leave.
- Streamline and Simplify — Design for Habit: Eliminate roadblocks, remove hurdles, and reduce friction.
- Practice Continuous Optimization: Learn, adapt, and optimize as you go.
Originally an online book retailer, Amazon has been growing and expanding its business and business model ever since inception. Amazon takes a customer-centric approach that delivers beyond pure usefulness and focuses on streamlining and simplicity to provide additional value:
Below are some key examples of how Amazon has continually grown, extended, streamlined, and simplified its experiences over time:
(Getting People into the Experience, Eliminating Roadblocks)
Back when Amazon was fighting physical stores to become a market leader, it struggled with the roadblock of getting people to pay shipping costs when they could pick up products elsewhere in person, and pay less overall. To help eliminate this barrier, Amazon created a Free Shipping incentive for purchases over $25, adding additional value and elevated usefulness. This helped drive consumer interest, leading to awareness and adoption of Amazon's e-commerce, which ultimately changed user behavior while also increasing the average purchase value. Offering free shipping proved to be an excellent incentive for getting users into the experience.
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Subscribe & Save
(Growing and Extending the Experience, Helping Users Establish Roots, Removing Hurdles, Reducing Friction)
Amazon created the Subscribe & Save feature, which streamlines and simplifies repeat purchase decisions. With Subscribe & Save, users can subscribe to certain products that will be delivered on a specified timetable (typically monthly). In turn, users receive discounts on the products, which helps ensure their repeat purchase activity will be through Amazon. The program allows users to adopt a "set it and forget it" mentality that keeps them in the Amazon experience.
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Amazon Prime Rewards Credit Card
(Growing and Extending the Experience, Helping Users Establish Roots, Removing Hurdles, Reducing Friction)
By signing up for the Amazon Prime Rewards Credit Card, Amazon provides users with 5 percent back on purchases made through Amazon Prime. Amazon leverages this tactic to enhance loyalty by offering maximum rewards in its own ecosystem, growing and extending the experience by making the credit card available to Prime members only, and both removing hurdles and reducing friction by making the redemption of these rewards immediately available during the checkout process. (“See your rewards balance during checkout at Amazon.com” and “Use your rewards to pay for all or part of your purchase.”).
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Amazon Go, or Amazon Grocery
(Growing and Extending the Experience, Eliminates Roadblocks, Removes Hurdles, Reduces Friction)
Amazon has started to reinvent the grocery shopping experience by streamlining the checkout process and thus removing one of the biggest hurdles to grocery shopping. According to its website, "Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go — No lines, no checkout." Amazon Go is a notable example of streamlining the overall shopping experience in the physical world.
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Amazon's Fallen Products
(Growing and Extending the Experience, Continual Optimization)
Not every experience Amazon ventured towards has been a success story. It’s a testament to Amazon’s continual, customer-centric optimization that, even as it pushed the boundaries to grow and extend the Amazon experience, the company realized it had to sunset a number of initiatives. Through continual optimization and the study of both its audience and the market, Amazon decided to let go of some ventures, including Amazon Fire Phone (Amazon's foray into the Smartphone Market), Amazon Destinations (Amazon's dive into the Travel Industry by offering Hotel Deals via a microsite), and Amazon Auction (Amazon's auction-based website aimed for market share gains against eBay).
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(Getting People into the Experience, Growing and Extending the Experience, Helping People Establish Roots)
Amazon Prime is the flagship offering as Amazon continues to grow and extend their experience with new features, benefits, and services. By paying an annual membership fee, Amazon Prime users unlock free two-day shipping on millions of items and also receive a vast majority of other Amazon services for free, such as streaming music, television, movies, photo storage, etc. By using this membership tactic, Amazon creates users who feel compelled to return to Amazon's experience first when making purchases – in order to get the most from their annual fee – thus establishing loyalty and repeat engagements. In addition to the membership experience, Amazon continuously finds ways to get more people in their experience through membership incentives such as Prime Student and Amazon's Mom Membership Program. Amazon Prime, Prime Student, and the Mom Membership Program are not only great examples of using promotions and incentives to draw people to the Amazon experience, but also demonstrate Amazon’s ability to connect so deeply with its customers that they become rooted and reliant upon Amazon.
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Amazon Dash Buttons
(Growing and Extending the Experience, Removing Hurdles, Reducing Friction, Helping People Establish Roots)
Amazon Dash Buttons are tiny, internet-connected devices that can be placed in areas of your home in which frequently purchased products are kept, allowing you to re-order a product at the touch of a button – without ever having to go online, or engage in a digital experience at all. Keep forgetting to buy more laundry detergent? Stick a Tide Detergent dash button in the laundry room and, with the push of the dash button, an order is immediately placed to Amazon.
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(Streamlining and Simplifying the Experience, Removing Hurdles, Reducing Friction)
Getting through an online checkout process can be cumbersome, but Amazon has streamlined and simplified the process to the point of 1-Click Ordering. With 1-Click Ordering, there is no need to add something to your online Shopping Cart, view the shopping cart, select a delivery address, or input any user information. Once you set up 1-Click Ordering, a single click of a button removes all those steps and immediately orders the product to your default payment method and preferred delivery address. Even more streamlined: 1-Click Ordering is automatically enabled after your first purchase is made.
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Amazon Kindle & Kindle Books
(Growing and Expanding the Experience, Helping Users Establish Roots, Streamlining and Simplifying the Experience)
The Amazon Kindle e-Reader allows users to browse, buy, download, and read e-books, newspapers, magazines, and other digital media. By being the front runner in the e-book experience, Amazon has grown its experience and enabled customers to become invested in Amazon’s e-book platform. All digital book content through the Kindle Store is fully-integrated with the Amazon experience, ensuring that users spend their money with Amazon, essentially creating a digital bookshelf on their Kindles.
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"What makes people passionate – pure and simple – is great experiences. If they have a great experience with your product and your service, they’re going to be passionate about your brand, they’re going to be committed to it. That’s how you build commitment."
– Jesse James Garrett