5 February 2015

Goodbye My Love, Goodbye!

My dear,

We spent four and a half years together. With good times and bad ones. We shared joys and sorrows.

I came to you with great enthusiasm and high expectations. Some were fulfilled, others not.

The beginning of our relationship was both exciting and a bit difficult. Then, after about two years, I came to love you. I even wanted to make you (a small piece of you) my own. I actually thought that we could have a very long term relationship.

Yet, things didn’t work all that well between us. Maybe you didn’t love me (enough)? Maybe it simply wasn’t meant to be? Who knows?!

None of these matters now…

It’s time to say: “Goodbye!”

I will move on, not without a heavy heart. You will be (stay) the same and, I truly hope you will find others to love you, at least as much as I did.

Thank you for the times we had together!

I hope we will get to see each-other again, and, maybe, we will be together again, at least for some time…

Thank you, my dear The Netherlands! You were, for some years, My Home.

My dear readers,

I haven’t written personal posts on this blog for almost three years. I break this self-imposed rule to mark a rather painful moment in my life: Moving from the country in which I lived for almost five years and I called home for more than three years – The Netherlands.

In a few months my wife and I will move to the USA (Washington DC area).
What the future will bring, I am not sure. What I am sure of is that The Netherlands is a great country to live in, with great people (both literally and metaphorically) and living here was a life-changing experience for me.

I’ll be back (sooner or later). 

3 February 2015

Behavioural (Service) Design Is About Technology as Much as Rembrandt’s Paintings Are About Canvases and Paints

We are going to make / made a great app that does this and that.

We are building a website that will help people with….

Our new device will enable people to….

These are phrases that are encountered at many conferences, meetings, tradeshows, get-togethers on service design.

A huge proportion of people who (claim to) do service design or customer experience focus their work and their speech on the technology they are working on and how great and mesmerizing it will be for their consumers / users.

Naturally, the ground-breaking, paradigm-shifting technology will enable organizations to be consumer / customer centric…

Although I am allergic to buzz-words, I think that the big issue is not the use of fluffy words that everyone pretends to understand.

The big issue is the over-emphasis on technology.

Good (profitable) service and great experience are as much about technology as Rembrandt’s paintings are about the canvases and paints.  

It’s obvious that without paints and canvases any painter, including the great Rembrandt, would not be able to create a masterpiece. Nonetheless, good painters draw very beautiful sketches with just a piece of paper and a pencil. It's the same with technology and great service. One can have good service without too much technology being involved.

Even in the case of Service Masterpieces, technology is simply a tool.

It’s about giving a good feeling not about how you do it.

For example, a restaurant stores the phone numbers of frequent (loyal?) clients and when one of them calls to make a reservation, the receptionist answers with “Good day Mr. X, how many will you be this evening?” instead of the typical “Good day, restaurant R, how may I help you?”.

The increase in customer satisfaction with the experience of making a restaurant reservation is not due to some fancy technology (caller ID to be precise). Rather it is because someone (apparently) knows him and (apparently) cares about who he is.

Technology is, not seldom, overused while disregarding the human component.

For example, there are some elevators which have the control buttons on the outside.

Basically, when you call the elevator, you have to type the number of the floor you are going to. The elevator arrives and you enter into it. The doors close and it takes you to where you commanded it when you were on the outside.

I am sure that there is a good reason for this; it might be energy use optimisation.

However, the designers forgot to take into account a very basic human feeling and need.

Once you enter the elevator, you are in a closed small metal box without any control.

That’s pretty freaking, right?

Where the buttons are placed might not influence too much the technology part, but having the buttons on the inside gives you a sense of control. It’s the person who controls the machine and not the machine controlling the person.

We see the technology, but we don’t see the fundamental human truth.

More than 80% of information acquired by humans is received through the visual sense. Our vision is pretty amazing and we rely on it.

There is a draw-back of human vision:

Human vision is great at seeing what is in front of our eyes, but it is horrible at seeing what is behind the salient (shiny) object.

Several years ago, a technology company (with a fruit name) began selling mobile technology devices. There was and still is a lot of buzz around this company and its products. Recently, this company reported the highest profit for a quarter in corporate history… and that amount is in the same league with the GDP of small countries.

Hundreds of business and technology analysts commented on the success of the company and its products. The emphasis, naturally, was on technology and the products’ features: touch screens, apps, memory capacity etc.

Yet, I haven’t heard anyone speaking about the fundamental reason behind this company’s tremendous success. This reason is not technology; rather it is a fundamental human truth.

Without going too much in the depths of evolutionary psychology, the fundamental truth is that all humans have a need to communicate (advertise) themselves on the social and mating market(s).

This is true for other creatures as well, but there is an essential difference between humans and other creatures. Whereas many animals advertise their mating value through conspicuous and costly features such as the peacock’s tail, humans advertise their mating (and social) value through behaviours and ornaments.

In a nutshell, the company mentioned above managed to create and sell peacock tails… It was not the first one to do so, but it managed to become an icon of self-advertising. The most interesting thing is that this company manages to create (and sell) peacock tails that are self-degradable, thus creating the conditions for re-purchase every (other) year.

Whenever a new generation of the product is launched, both the company and its clients talk about the technology progress and the new features, but this is only the surface…

The fundamental truth is that

An “i Peacock’s Tail 5” is sexier than an “i Peacock’s Tail 4”

Happier Customers & Higher Profitability through
Behavioural Science Applied in Service Design