What is a Great Experience really?

An introduction to the key elements of any great customer experience.

Introduction

Hello and welcome to the first edition of the Building Great Experiences newsletter! Each week I'll be sharing thoughts on the continued evolution of great human-centered experiences, how companies are innovating, ideas to improve the experience for customers and employees, and special features with other leaders.

Since this is the first newsletter, I thought I’d start by sharing thoughts on what I mean by “great experiences,” which is key to building customer loyalty and growing any business. Here are three important elements of any great customer experience.

1. Focus on People, Not Just Products or Technology

This may seem obvious, but great experiences start by putting people at the center. This means thinking about their needs, feelings, and behaviors instead of only focusing on what will make the most money or is feasible to create. The best experiences have been carefully considered and tested with real users or customers. They’re based on real customer insights instead of stakeholder assumptions on what will increase shareholder value.

2. Look at Every Altitude of the Experience

There are four primary altitudes of any customer experience — product, service, brand and ecosystem. Businesses that intentionally consider and invest at every altitude are able to create a consistent and coherent experience for customers that will ultimately drive loyalty and business outcomes.

Product

This is the lowest altitude of the customer experience. It includes both digital and physical products, which are the individual touch points that a customer can interact with. It includes everything from an app or website to a cheeseburger, a t-shirt, or a pair of shoes.

Service

This is the end-to-end experience a customer has when using a service and spans across touch points. An example I reference often is the hospitality industry. From the time you decide to book a room at a hotel until you return home - every touchpoint along that journey is part of the service you’re experiencing. It includes things like the online booking experience, to checking in at the front desk, to using the mobile app for keyless entry, calling for extra towels, checking out, returning home, and everything in between.

Brand

This is how customers see your brand as a whole and includes your products, services, sales, marketing, operations, etc. It encompasses online and offline content, interactions and advertising and includes how employees engages with customers in-person or virtually - whether they’re a frontline worker, a salesperson, or the CEO. All of it makes up the brand that the customer experiences.

Ecosystem:

This is the highest altitude and includes experiences that involve multiple brands working together. An example I reference often is the Apple Card, which combines Apple’s design and user experience with financial services from Goldman Sachs and Mastercard’s global payment network. Together, they create a simple, transparent, and secure credit card experience.

3. Create Real Value for Customers

At the end of the day, a great experience must be valuable to the user. This means solving a problem, meeting a need, or making their life better. Businesses often get this wrong and focus only on what is most profitable or what they assume customers need or want.

Wrapping Up

Creating a great experience is about more than just having a great product. It’s about understanding and meeting the needs of your users, considering every aspect of their experience, and adding real value to their lives. By focusing on these principles, you can build experiences that not only satisfy but also delight your customers.

Each week I’m going to share a few things I’ve found, been pondering, or using. This week I’ve been exploring various AI tools and revisited an HBR article on trust.

  • Gamma.app - An interesting AI tool that generates beautiful presentations, documents, and websites without any design or coding skills.

  • uxsniff.com - Another nifty AI tool that helps improve your website's UX and boost conversions. It autonomously analyzes session recordings and identifies abnormal click patterns.

  • How Our Brains Decide When to Trust - An HBR article from a few years ago that’s still relevant and important today. One of my favorite quotes - “Businesses that build trust among their customers are rewarded with greater loyalty and higher sales.”

Real talk, this is the first time I’ve ever done a newsletter. I’m still working out the best format and voice and will be experimenting and refining along the way. If you have constructive feedback, I’d love to hear it! If you enjoyed it, feel free to share it with others. See you next week! 😊

Onward & upward!

Drew Burdick