Creative Connection

November 12, 2015 /Creative Business /

What Dale Carnegie can teach us about creating a great customer experience

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.

Some of the best insights on designing great online and offline customer experiences might be 79 years old. No, that’s not a typo – it’s simply when author Dale Carnegie achieved worldwide fame with his classic book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. Other books have followed since, and across his whole life one thing was true about Carnegie: he had a great capacity to empathise with people, which carries various lessons for any of us today whose task is to understand certain type of customers and deliver something of value to them.

In other words, there are valuable things that Dale Carnegie can teach us about customer experiences. Let’s explore a few of them.


Have a clear vision that others can support

Carnegie once said about getting other people involved:

Arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.

We’ve written about this in the past and it’s especially true when it comes to creative managers. It’s equally important to have a shared vision that your team will be eager to get behind, so that everyone can work together towards a same goal. Great customer experiences are the result of a clear vision and effective collaboration.


Focus on excellence

When it comes to excellence, Carnegie had a clear point of view:

Once I did bad and that I heard ever. Twice I did good, but that I heard never.

Customers are demanding more and more great experiences, more often, regardless of the device they’re in. This means that embracing good design is more important than ever, but also that when the experience is flawed it can be fatal – “once I did bad” and that’s all people will talk about. If you do good, on the other end, you may not always hear about it directly but having customers come back and seamlessly enjoy what you deliver is the very best sign of a job well done. Just think about the last time you saw a great social customer service reply, as opposed to when you witnessed a social media blunder.


Embrace prototyping

Knowledge is power, right? Well, according to Carnegie there’s a twist:

Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.

Great customer experiences are achieved by the right ideas, but mainly the right executions. With that in mind, if we take some lessons from the design thinking discipline, merely talking about what you want to do isn’t nearly as powerful as putting together a functional prototype that shows how it could work. Actions, after all, speak louder than words (especially when it comes to creative work).


Be genuinely interested in your customers

Carnegie’s point of view on being interested in people as a general rule of thumb is spot on:

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

Most of the work we do involves getting customers to use our products and services, but until you truly understand their needs the experience will never be as powerful as it could. In other words, empathising with what your customers truly need – and then building around that – is probably the single best rule to follow when it comes to developing a great customer experience.


Make the experience emotional

Logic is what makes us human, but deep down we all depend on subconscious instinctive responses for most of the decisions we do. In Carnegie’s words:

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.

This is hugely important if you want to truly get people’s attention and motivate them to keep coming back. You may have the biggest argument in the world on why your product or service is superior, but people need to genuinely feel it when they use it before actually deciding that it is so. Emotional experiences, after all, are at the core of brand preference.


Keep working until you get it right

If creating great customer experiences were easy, everyone would do it, right? That’s precisely why continue working on it until it’s exactly what you want it to be is essential. In Carnegie’s words:

Flaming enthusiasm, backed by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.

Taking another cue from design thinking, this type of work is all about reinvention and iteration, which means some mistakes will be made – and many lessons will come from them. That’s normal, in fact it’s desirable – it just gives the extra edge to continue pushing the boundaries and truly achieving great work. Which, after all, is why we’re all doing this in the first place. Yet another great lesson from such a classic author.


Use design to your advantage

Amazing customer experiences are the future of business and design plays a huge role in that. As we’ve seen through some of Dale Carnegie’s knowledge, there are quite a few clues we can take from his work. If you’re interested in learning more and turning this into your own advantage, also make sure you download our free Design Advantage report or sign up for our Design Advantage Forum on November 24 in London.

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