Customer Experience

Recently, I came across an insightful story from the book “The Experience Economy” by James Pine and James Gilmore –

When my mom was young, Grandma would bake her a birthday cake using raw materials – flour, sugar, eggs. It took half a day to make and cost less than a dollar.  When I was a kid, my mother made a cake out of boxed mix.  What a deal for Mom! It cost about two dollars and took an hour.  By the time, I was hyperactive teenager, she had moved our to stage three – she outsourced the cake to a local bakery for ten dollars.  Today, when my own kid has a birthday, I have to stage an experience for him and his friends, whether that means a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, Disney Club, or Discovery Zone – and now the price tag is approaching one hundred dollars or more.

The story brings home the point that when it comes to product design, the end customers increasingly demand an “experience” and are willing to pay premium for the same.  And that’s what Apple does successfully, if you think about it for a minute. The entire process of  unwrapping an Apple product to interacting with the user-interface on daily basis is an experience. It’s like an Disney-themed birthday party.

In my opinion, Enterprise Software, largely seems to be stuck in the Grandma birthday party phase.  As Generation Y/Z ,that is used to theme-based birthday parties (and FB, Twitter, etc.),  enter the work force in increasing numbers,  superior experience will become the core discriminating factor.

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One response to “Customer Experience

  1. Excellent post Naren – I think Apple goes a little further, I think the experience begins before you even purchase – this is a nice case study on Apple Stores

    Going on to your comment about Enterprise Software I totally agree – there is a whole generation that has grown up with game controllers in their hands or being tracked by a Kinnect, for whom the keyboard may even be too slow. They install complex software by shoving a disk into a slot. They are used to everything they want being a click-away somewhere on the web or in a cloud, replacing user guides with exploration, having a network of contacts, professional and social to turn to to troubleshoot, give recommendations and answer questions. They turn it on with a credit card and can turn it off just as fast.

    I know Enterprise Software is not that simple, but this is where the expectations are being set for the Enterprise Software buyers and decision makers of the future.

    So what’s the future of Enterprise Software? Perhaps the old model perpetuated by Big Blue, Big Red and that German outfit is past its best before date. Are Salesforce, Zoho and Boxnet setting the new standards? Or as the Semantic Web takes root, will all the data be actionable by an army of smart agents? Gotta wonder!

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