When I think back to my school days there are only a handful of lessons that I remember with any real clarity, times when I learned something so cool that the moment is engraved on my memory. One example was learning about icebergs, and the astonishing fact that what you see above the water is just the tip. Pretty heady stuff for a youngster. Even today, going about my work with leading enterprises, I’m often reminded of icebergs. Let me explain why.
At Adobe, we talk a lot about “experience businesses”—organisations that delight customers not just with products, but through the lived experience of the brand. These businesses are winning the hearts and minds of customers and will become the success stories of tomorrow. I’ve recently realised that they all have an important thing in common: what you see on the surface is just a little of what they’re actually doing for their customers. Like icebergs, the products they offer are just the tip—out of sight there’s so much more going on.
What MasterCard can teach us
Take MasterCard as a case in point. To most people MasterCard is a credit card company and nothing more. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Considering the huge array of activities that go into providing its services and experiences, it would be more accurate to think of it as a technology company. And that’s exactly how MasterCard views itself.
This ethos can be seen across all of MasterCard’s customer touchpoints. Below the surface of even a simple website lies a great deal of thought about how it can best serve customers.
Some people may try and convince you that websites have had their day and that social media and chat services are all you need to communicate about your products. Don’t believe a word of it. MasterCard realises that its website remains the main entry point for the countless consumers, financial institutions, merchants, businesses and governments it connects with daily. MasterCard needs to ensure it’s offering a compelling online experience that meets the expectations of its various stakeholders—a real challenge when there’s such a diverse array of needs to cater for.
MasterCard’s approach has been to focus on making things as easy as possible for its customers. Their website design is based on the critical insight that customers don’t have the time wade through swamps of irrelevant information to get what they need.
MasterCard came together with Adobe to replace its old, hard-coded website with something that’s easier to navigate and easier to update with new content. The result is a design-led sight that works across multiple devices, in multiple languages, allowing MasterCard to truly engage with its audiences.
You can learn more about what MasterCard is doing here.
What this tells us about experience businesses
There are several important lessons here. First, customer-centricity is everything. MasterCard’s whole approach is based on understanding the needs of its diverse customer base and working out ways of meeting these needs. Rather than doing the easy thing and building customer touchpoints that suit the business’ internal processes, MasterCard is thinking from the outside in—from the customer to the business. Adopting this customer-first mindset will be increasingly important in the future.
Second, MasterCard reminds us that compelling experiences don’t need to be flashy. Yes, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Chatbots and other eye-catching emerging technologies are transforming how we deliver customer experiences, but they should not come at the cost of getting the basics right. MasterCard has correctly identified the enduring importance of what’s now a traditional channel—the website—and focused on perfecting this experience. This isn’t just diligent, it creates the perfect foundation on which wider experiences can be built. MasterCard is looking to create a brand experience that is consistently excellent for all its customers.
Convenience is king
MasterCard realises that success in the age of the experience business ultimately comes down to making life as easy and as convenient as possible for customers. Our iceberg analogy comes back into play: enterprises need to take all their complex technologies and back office processes and hide them out of view. All customers should see is the ‘tip’ of the business: a seamless experience that brings new levels of convenience to their lives.