May 30, 2017
In a post-storytelling age, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.
Humans, for the most part, are wired for efficiency. We seek out the shortest distance between two points, the fastest delivery of information (or Amazon packages), the most minimal version of UI and the most concise form of communication (IKR?). So, it’s no surprise that organizations are struggling to find moments to storytell as they once did. Stories, instead, are confined to tiny micro-moments within the customer experience; a fragmented, multi-device, non-linear journey a customer makes from subconscious to conscious to consideration to purchase to advocacy and beyond.
“Consumers still want a clear brand promise and offerings they value. What has changed is when—at what touch points—they are most open to influence, and how you can interact with them at those points.” – Harvard Business Review
Brands’ only chance to showcase their Why? exists within these tiny, fragmented moments. As marketers, brand managers, designers or product owners, how do you make the most of them? Here’s a hint: it’s the little things.
Pay attention to the details
Even though we all get excited about technology that allows us to move faster and immerse deeper, we also get the opportunity to engage more meaningfully. We have conversations with our devices that can sense our intent or level of stress; they know the context of our queries and the fluctuations of our preferences. In these interactions brands have the opportunity to focus on details technology may overlook; the response that catches us by surprise or the point of friction we were expecting to work through but never had to. Customers will understand your brand’s values through the thoughtfulness of each interaction and your continued investment to making them better.
Make different feel familiar
The greatest barrier to technological advancement? Ourselves. Yes, humans are skilled at evolving, but this process takes time. A lot of time. Think about technologies we’ve refused to adopt in the past only to realize years later that we actually want it. The Palm Pilot, the Windows XP Tablet, Google Glass? These weren’t necessarily bad ideas, just bad timing. In a lot of ways, they were two steps ahead when all we wanted was one. The key to introducing new technologies that we’re not quite ready for is to make it feel familiar. This goes beyond but certainly includes predictable UI, consistent tone of voice and perceived value-add. Pay attention to how your brand fits within your customer’s mental model and ensure you aren’t breaking it. Or if you are, make sure they can see the value in doing so.
Owning your customer experience is an intangible task, thus the most difficult to get right. Owning it doesn’t necessarily mean ensuring it’s on your platform (though it’s nice if it is), more so that you’re giving your customers an experience that’s uniquely yours. That if any other company tried to pull it off it’d feel weird or out of place. This is where your brand’s Why? really shines, if it’s done authentically. Think American Express and security, IBM and intelligence, Airbnb and belonging. These organizations understand the space they “own” and continue to deliver innovative experiences within or in complement to them. Amex doesn’t have to tell you it’s focusing on security, how they prioritize their product roadmap says it all. What space does your brand own and how might you continue to evolve what that means to your customers?
“The amount of touchpoints multiply the amount of positive impressions you can make while simultaneously multiplying the number of times you can fail to meet expectations.” – David Brier
Storytelling will continue to shift away from the words a brand says to the actions a brand takes. In building relationships with customers, companies can no longer assume they have control over the narrative, have someone’s full attention, or even reliably predict how and when the customer will make their next step. It’s the details within each interaction, the ease of adoption for new products and the confidence in what their brand represents that will make all the difference. If organizations focus on the little things, they won’t have to say much at all. Their experiences will do all the talking for them.