Adobe Digital Dialogue

Delivering Delightful Experiences


Mark Hen­ley, Direc­tor, Trans­for­ma­tion and Dig­i­tal Strat­e­gy, Adobe Sys­tems



I polled a room of peo­ple recent­ly for their best cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. There was a long silence. Even­tu­al­ly, some­one said – “I can remem­ber my worst expe­ri­ence real­ly well”. Imme­di­ate­ly there was an avalanche of sim­i­lar com­ments.

It’s depress­ing that we remem­ber the bad more quick­ly than the good, because it makes the job of deliv­er­ing great expe­ri­ences so dif­fi­cult. The net pro­mot­er score mech­a­nism is a great quan­ti­ta­tive mea­sure of this. As a reminder, on a scale of 1–10, a 6 counts as a net detrac­tor, 7 and 8 are ignored and only 9 and 10 are con­sid­ered loy­al or enthu­si­asts. Fur­ther, the total net pro­mot­er score is the per­cent­age of detrac­tors sub­tract­ed from the per­cent­age of pro­mot­ers – mean­ing a neg­a­tive score is fright­en­ing­ly easy to achieve (if a neg­a­tive can be con­sid­ered an achieve­ment?)

The point is for each cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, excel­lence is only 20% of the avail­able range, with the remain­ing 80% is neu­tral or neg­a­tive in tone. This is why my room could so read­i­ly remem­ber the poor expe­ri­ences – by def­i­n­i­tion there are sim­ply more of them.

Image courtesy of stockimages /

But, there is anoth­er fac­tor. The incon­ve­nience, rude­ness, lack of per­son­al atten­tion, and sheer incom­pe­tence of some expe­ri­ences stick with us, and are being more sharply con­trast­ed than ever before. Why? Because there are more tru­ly amaz­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices emerg­ing, more rapid­ly, and in more aspects of our dai­ly lives than at any oth­er time in his­to­ry. Cus­tomer cen­tric­i­ty dri­ven by dig­i­tal tools and process­es is gen­uine­ly chang­ing the nature of these expe­ri­ences for the bet­ter.

Some exam­ples – Apple is a clas­sic of course. Uber and AirBnB work due to their cheeky dis­in­ter­me­di­a­tion. Ama­zon is famed for their focus on the cus­tomer – man­i­fest­ed not nec­es­sar­i­ly in user expe­ri­ence, but low­est price and widest choice. High end trav­el inno­vates con­stant­ly to pre­serve and extend the ‘spe­cial’ fac­tor. You will undoubt­ed­ly have your own favourites – pre­cise­ly because some part of the expe­ri­ence was mem­o­rable in the right way, and like­ly unique to your cus­tomer jour­ney.

What are the hall­marks of a delight­ful inter­ac­tion? I think they can be cat­e­go­rized thus:

  1. Reduc­ing fric­tion of an exist­ing and reg­u­lar trans­ac­tion – eg Uber, Pay­pal, etax (Aus­tralia). As an aside, wear­able tech is going to extend low fric­tion inter­ac­tions even fur­ther.
  2. Cre­at­ing a gen­uine rela­tion­ship where the con­sumer cares enough to engage with the brand, due to a com­bi­na­tion of prod­uct AND ser­vice. Part of the draw may be brand cachet too, but rarely is it the prod­uct in iso­la­tion that cre­ates the attrac­tion. Retail exam­ples abound in Apple, Nike, Face­book, Harley David­son, Carti­er. It’s not just pre­mi­um brands either – dai­ly com­modi­ties can suc­ceed in cre­at­ing advo­cates too – Tet­ley tea, the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald (or South Chi­na Morn­ing Post). These are all high fre­quen­cy and high touch B2C expe­ri­ences, and they dri­ve the cus­tomer expec­ta­tions of what is ‘nor­mal’. For low­er touch, and low­er engage­ment ser­vices such as bank­ing, finance and insur­ance, the cus­tomer expec­ta­tions formed in retail expe­ri­ences are applied indis­crim­i­nate­ly- why aren’t all expe­ri­ences as good as…?
  3. Sur­prise – Offer­ing the cus­tomer or user an expe­ri­ence they didn’t know they want­ed, often at the right time and in the right con­text. Google Now is doing a good job of this pre­dic­tive util­i­ty behav­ior. Each of these mir­co expe­ri­ences that are clear­ly in the 9 or 10 range for NPS will tend to stick with us. I sus­pect that this abil­i­ty to accu­rate­ly pre-empt the cus­tomer will become a clear dif­fer­en­tia­tor for brands, as long as the result is use­ful rather than intru­sive or ‘creepy’. (A word whose def­i­n­i­tion and appli­ca­tion is yet to be ful­ly quan­ti­fied, and seems con­text depen­dent)
  4. Inter­con­nec­tions: Each encounter leaves a rip­ple. Only when all those rip­ples are known can the expe­ri­ence work at its best. Online/offline retail, my fit­bit logs, sup­ply chain opti­miza­tion for an iron ore mine – all these depend on the en-cloud­ing of the cus­tomer state and their data. Inter­con­nec­tions also mat­ter in the social sense – a good meal is improved by the pres­ence of good com­pa­ny – and so a pleas­ing expe­ri­ence becomes more so when con­firmed by your social cir­cle.

Ulti­mate­ly, we all crave recog­ni­tion of our iden­ti­ty – not in the nar­cis­sis­tic sense, but at the deep, human lev­el that seeks out oth­er gen­uine human inter­ac­tions. For too long we have had to accept imper­son­al best guess­es as dig­i­tal sub­sti­tutes for rel­e­vant and use­ful encoun­ters that meet both our needs and desires. Hap­pi­ly, that world is pass­ing. We now have the tools, the data and the process­es to make the best of each oppor­tu­ni­ty to hit a 9 or 10 rather than a 5 or a 6. Great cus­tomer expe­ri­ences are with­in reach, and Adobe can help you on the jour­ney toward them.

Join me at Adobe Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Sym­po­sium where I will be cov­er­ing the impor­tance of a great cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and the tips and tricks to imple­ment­ing the right tools to help you achieve it.

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