Archive for category: Better Business

Minimum Viable Experience

30 Dec
December 30, 2012

We talk a lot in product development about the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – a product with a minimum set of features that allows people to familarise themselves with it, provide feedback, and a platform to iterate on. The important part of it is that the MVP is at such a point that people will continue to use it. It’s about the value it provides.

It’s important that we don’t limit this kind of minimum viability thinking to just products. We need to apply it to experiences as well.

Let me give you an example.


My son is mad for Lego. We got so much of it for Christmas we are still putting it all together.

So imagine his excitement when we discovered a coffee shop in Lygon St Melbourne that was adorned with Lego branding in the front window. Is it possible that I could have a coffee while he built? Sounded awesome!

So we parked the car and headed on in. Quickly, it became fairly obvious that not all was what it seemed from the front door. What we had instead appeared to be a shop that sold Lego that you could also buy a coffee at.

Lining the walls were a selection of the smaller Lego sets, scaling right up to the massive Star Wars branded fighters and Death Star models.

Not an open set in sight (unless they were already put together and on display). No Lego dimpled table tops for the kids to build on. No high chairs for smaller kids. Just more and more Lego to buy. And a coffee machine.

Now, being that what you can see from the outside is a Lego sign, tables with sugar on them and the coffee machine, any normal adult would assume that this is a cafe where kids can play with Lego. To consider it a retail store to buy the product in, but you can also get a coffee at just seems at odds with each other.

The Minimum Viable Experience

When we asked about sets to play with and high chairs, they said they had neither, but that they were great ideas that they would get to eventually.

Eventually. The problem with eventually, as opposed to a definitive timeframe, is that now that I know what the experience is, I won’t be back.

When considering the minimum viable experience, consider what people might perceive that experience to be. Does what you are offering live up to that?

If it’s not 100% where you want it to be, when will it get there?

It’s important that your vision for the future is obvious when it comes to the experience you want people to have, for you and for your customers. You need to keep them on the journey while you fine tune it. If they are not, then they abandon you before the vision can become reality.

Photo – Jez Page

Don't Make Breaking Up Hard To Do

21 Sep
September 21, 2012

I called time on an awful lot of relationships this week.

In some cases it was easy. They didn’t ask questions, just a final goodbye and good luck – and made the break up painless.

Others wanted me to be sure before I walked away, and tried to convince me that maybe I’d made a mistake.

One even wouldn’t take no for an answer, like that woman who George tried to break up with in Seinfeld that wouldn’t believe it was over.

Of course, I’m talking about breaking off relationships with brands and businesses.

I unsubscribed from about 12 different email lists, and unliked about the same number of brand pages on Facebook.

Why Is It So Hard To Do?

When I say hard to do, I don’t mean the decision to remove myself from the lists. I mean the actual process of removing myself from them, and specifically, the email lists.

If people have decided that they have heard enough of what you have to say, taking themselves off your list should be a 1 click exercise.

You should not put barriers in their way. When you make it easy to add themselves, but hard to get off, it damages your relationship even more.

Two of the things that caught my eye this week were the “has this been a mistake?”, followed by a confirmation button that they want to leave the list.

Look at where the link to unsubscribe is on your email. Unless it is right next to a link to valuable content (which it won’t be), then there is no error. Typically, an unsubscribe link sits alone at the bottom of the email, for the very purpose of making people go looking for it to take action.

The other thing that makes unsubscribing difficult is asking people to re-enter their details (as above). It’s an unnessecary step – you know their address, you already have it. For people like myself too, who have multiple email addresses, having to go back to find which one it was sent to is another relationship damaging piece of the puzzle.

I also had a problem last week of still receiving daily emails (ironically from a newsletter deemed ‘quarterly’), despite no longer being subscribed. To find this out though, I had to sign into the site with my login and check my communications preferences – again, one step too far.

Leaving your database should be the path of least resistance – one click.

Making it easy to leave makes it easier for people to reconsider coming back – the last experience was a positive one.

Customer Service is More Than Saying You're Sorry

27 Aug
August 27, 2012

Carrying on from my post last week about Facebook fanning social media fires, this week I had a friend make a public complaint to an airline on their Facebook page.

Due to an issue with the display of their website on her computer, there was an error to her booking, which she rang up to rectify as soon as she made it. It seems their solution was to pay more than the original flight as a fee to correct the issue.

Now, there are two major customer experience issues here.

The first is the website. If you’re in the business of taking people’s money in return for services, your website needs to be absolutely clear and readable on any browser and screen resolution (well, except IE6 – no one should ever use that. Ever.). Why? Because if it’s not, it leads to what happens next – customer errors that mean they have to contact you further to fix them. If you expect your customers to abide by your “rules” and use the platform you have given them to interact with you – make sure it is usable.

Secondly, and even more surprising (or not..) was the response from Jetstar to the Facebook complaint:


Now Jetstar and most low budget carriers are notorious for their fees, charges and low tolerance policy – at the actual gate. 5 minutes later than you should be – forget it.

But here they have a mistake that has happened and within a minute, attempting to be rectified. What it demonstrates to me is a lack of empowerment of, or even investigation by of whoever it is managing their social media.

Fees and rules are at a businesses discretion – they have created them, they can break them. To penalise a potential customer for an experience issue with the website should be an exception to “fare rules”. Consistent application is fine if you have people realising their mistake days or weeks after they make their booking. But immediately?

Even if the person(s) monitoring and responding to Facebook issues is not empowered, the initial response shouldn’t be “we know it’s harsh, but suck it up”, which let’s face it, is what this amounts to.

It should be an apology, and an offer to investigate rectifying the problem. The fact that the response came 15 minutes after the original post means that nothing was done to even investigate the possibility of an issue (15 minutes is a reasonable SLA for simply responding)

Sorry doesn’t cut it. Customers – new, old and potential – expect much more from businesses now.

PHOTO – dolescum via Flickr

How Small Tweets Can Mean Big Love For Your Brand

18 Aug
August 18, 2012

I woke up the other morning with the strangest craving for a hot chocolate. I don’t usually drink them, but for some reason just needed one.

Sadly, the necessary ingredients weren’t in the cupboard. So I had to settle for a coffee.

As someone who pretty much runs on coffee, I tend to drink Nespresso when I’m at home (have you ever tried to grind beans and froth milk while holding a child? And no, this isn’t a paid post of any kind).

So just for fun, I tweeted Nespresso.

Now I’m a realist when it comes to brand responses on Twitter. As a social media manager, I know and encourage the importance of them, but understand that it’s rare to get a response unless its a customer service issue. There was a research piece produced by Amex earlier in the year that said that while 25% of people who tweeted a brand expected a response, only 9% actually got one. Safe to say, I was in the 75% with this tweet.

So I was surprised when my phone beeped later that day – they had tweeted me back.

Now, in reality, the tweet doesn’t mean much – they’ve passed it on, have a great day. Considering a hot chocolate pod would probably be outside the realms of the way their machines operate (they’re built to push hot water through coffee), the idea’s probably going to stop there.

What it does do for me though as a consumer is make me feel a bit warm an fuzzy about the brand. I now know they are is listening, and are taking the time to talk back to the people who buy their product. For most consumers too, it’s this little glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, the thing they’ve asked for or are seeking will happen.

It’s these really small interactions that can mean big things for you as a brand. When was the last time you made one of your customers feel special, just because you could? Have they offered you a suggestion on something they would like to see? If so, did you thank them for it, or did you just file it?

Think about how you can surprise and delight your customers today, for no other reason than making them feel like they are heard.

And in future if you’re reading this while drinking your Nespresso hot chocolate – you’re welcome.

PHOTO – yon garrin┬ávia Flickr