Smart ideas for experience designers

Wisdom straight from the stage

When Greg Allen wrote his 25 Rules for Creating Good Theater, he was thinking of his Chicago theater company and not your customer experience.

Nevertheless, Greg's one-page list of theatrical tips are as good a guide to customer experience, service design or even presentation technique as you will find on any business bookshelf.

Starting with the basics, some of his showbiz pointers are simple good advice for anyone working with customers:

Rule #7: Know your audience
Rule #10: Use the performers for who they are
Rule #523 (!): Include a surprise
Rule #5: Make form follow function

Others are more challenging and thought provoking, but potentially invaluable:

Rule #4: Know why you are creating this show
Rule #17: Put the backstage on stage
Rule #22: Get non-verbal

My favourite Rule is just beautiful - and mighty, if you can pin it down for your customers:

Rule #16: Create a gift for the audience. The show should include a personal gift for each member of the audience – either material, emotional, or experiential. Make sure everyone in the audience has an individual experience of the show to take out of the theater and share and discuss afterwards.

Can your customer experience do that? What could you add, to achieve that goal?

Here's Greg's full list. It's well worth reading.

Stage door pic by slimmer_jimmer at flickr.

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The Gods' View - an exercise in perspective

Can you hear me at the back?

I think I like Garth Brooks, though I've never really heard his music. As the story goes, he liked to personally check out the worst seats in his venues just before the show, seeing if the seats way up in the "Gods'" were worth his fan's hard earned cash*. It's a technique we can all use - and not just when we are on stage.

How does your customer experience work from the metaphorical back row?

Imagine you are the very last passenger to check in, the diner who gets the very last portion of soup, the very last caller to dial the hotline today. Imagine you are the absolute latest adopter, the most allergic guest, or you wear the most outsiziest size. Or perhaps you have a dicky back, terrible hearing, low bandwidth or fifty-five year old eyes? Does the experience still work for you?

It's crucial to put ourselves in the shoes of all our customers - not just the ones that look like our "typical customer" personas. This is not (only) because we want to please as many as possible, but because these end-of-the-bell-curve viewpoints and needs can tell us something about the way our experience works for everyone.

A great example from WorkPlayExperience colleague Markus Hormess: I was typing up our Book of Shenanigans, and Markus peered over my shoulder.

"Look at it at 25% zoom," he suggested. "Does the layout still make sense?"

Take a step back. Book late. Get down on your knees. Sit in the cheapest seat. Squint at your packaging.

bet you will learn something.

Experience Monitor readers click HERE for more...

Binocular pic by Operators Are Standing By at Flickr.

* If the seats were no good, Garth would give away front-row tickets to those back-row fans, or dash up there for a close-up song during the concert. And this from one of the most successful recording artists of all time. Respect.

Happy staff = happy customers, again

In 2008, Norway's Flytoget Airport Express Train...

1. was the Best Place to Work in Norway.

2. was Number 1 in Customer Satisfaction in Norway.

Hmmm... I wonder if there might be a link?

Number 1 pic by Leo Reynolds at Flickr

Fake smiles are dangerous

Take the test

I've written before on the dangers of fake smiles in customer experience design. Customers spot them - can you?

The BBC's psychology crew offer this test.

The best way to avoid fake smiles (and uneasy customers) is to make sure that your team are having a blast at work. That's not just a hunch - the Sunday Times Great Places to Work Survey showed that companies whose staff were enjoying their daily grin(d) grew four times faster than average.*

More on what to do about fake smiles here and here.

Plastic smile pic by colodio by at flickr.
* Over the past five years, companies rated as “a good place to work” have shown 25 per cent growth in share and dividend returns, compared to an average return of only 6.3 per cent.
(Source: Sunday Times Great Places To Work Survey, 2002)