Go Beyond Best Practices Session at MIX ‘09

Because I already had some exposure to Silverlight 3 at the MVP Summit, I thought I’d start off with a session directed at creating user experiences. Not to mention that I was interested in the idea of going beyond the superlative of ‘best’ :)

The basic premise of the talk revolves around the idea that companies that succeed find ways to get customers to engage with them. The experience of using the customer transcends the details of the product or service being offered. He mentioned a book called “Firms of Endearment” which describes companies that arouse passion from the people involved. The authors of the book determined that companies that fit this model, exhibit a number of characteristics. One is described by the SPICE model.

Consider the following categories.

  • Society
  • Partners
  • Investors
  • Customers
  • Employees

The value created by the companies in Firms of Endearment was equally important across all of these constituencies. Experience is about the effects that we create for these constituencies.

But experience is becoming a buzzword. That is to say, it’s a phrase that businesses use to think that

For most businesses, process is more important that effect. People follow the ‘process’ without a thought to what the effect on others might be. Experiences are a combination of behaviors, attitudes and emotions. For most companies, the emotional side is what’s lacking.

For example, Fed Ex doesn’t believe that it’s in the delivery business. It thinks it’s in the ‘peace of mind’ business. This is really about engineering the experience that people have when they use your product/service. It’s about creating clues as to how important you consider your constituents to be. These clues are frequently small and subtle. And the effort to perform them is also small. But a focus on ROI has obscured the the need to actually follow through. The suggestion is that instead, there should be some concentration on ROY. As in Y not provide the clues necessary to make customers/employees/etc realize that you are as passionate about the business they they are.

I found the presentation interesting. At a minimum, it gave me pause to think about how ObjectSharp delivers to this constituencies. While I think we do a decent job, there are certainly areas where we can improve. And we probably need to pay closer attention to the details of the experience that our customers have. And, in many cases, it’s the details that are more important than anything else.