Delivering Delightful Experiences

Customer Experience


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.

Customer Experience

Posted on 07-07-2014

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