They say you cannot win an ice hockey match by chasing the puck. You need to skate where it will be.
I increasingly think of this expression when reviewing and discussing customer strategies.
Most transformative experiences happen by accident.
Out of ten companies you apply to, the one that says yes makes you move city or country. You find or lose someone to love. You have an accident. Pick one school over another. Get mugged. Find unexpected kindness in a stranger.
We all know these moments.
Going in, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Looking back, you can see the moment as a trigger point. A first domino in a sequence of events that turned you from the person you were back then into the person you are today. You didn’t script or plan the journey. But it happened. Changed you.
As a customer, would you prefer fashion created by an AI or by a human? A month ago, I would have not given computers much thought. But now I’ve played with the latest generation of AI design tools, I’m not so sure anymore.
I feel we need to radically review the design and product development cycles in creative industries like fashion, graphic design, furniture, and more…
In this issue of Level Up, I summarise the experiment that changed my mind and make the case that if you want to stay in tune with your customers, you should do some tech immersion of your own.
I’m working on a ‘next level experience’ concept studio. So I’m asking myself some deep questions about the customer expectations of 2027 and beyond. Like whether meaning will be the next (premium) consumer experience frontier?
What do you think? Would you agree I am onto something? Or am I being a bit fluffy?
Predictions are a funny thing.
Ever since I started in retail 30 years ago, people have been telling me that physical stores are dying.
As the metaverse is about to merge with the world of ecommerce, this prediction is louder than ever.
What is a good customer experience? And how do you make it great? Delightful? Fantastic? Supercalifragilisticexpialodocious?
Do you do it by adding more experiential components?
Most ‘inspirational’ customer experience cases focus on business-to-consumer companies.
We talk about Airbnb, Uber, Apple or my personal favourite, Lexus (yes, I’m biased, but still).
Almost every company wants to make life easier for its customers. Reduce that Customer Effort Score.
But when trying to easy-fy a customer experience, we often work on the wrong problem.
I have the privilege of regularly hanging out with theme park creators, immersive theatre producers, metaverse-builders, ritual designers and more.
Our conversations invariably turn to the stories they tell.
These can be real or virtual world extensions of stories we know. Think Star Wars at Disney or a live theatre meets VR version of The Tempest I recently experienced. Stories of transformation from Meow Wolf or my friends at Punchdrunk Enrichment. Or stories that are simply fun, like The Girl on the Phone, which make you the protagonist in a journey to save a kidnapped woman from her captors in Caracas.
During the lockdowns, we learned that we can get a lot of work done without ever leaving the house. To the point that as restrictions lift, we're not that keen to return.
But where does this leave our offices? Will we still need them tomorrow? If we do, what will they look like? And more important, will we still want to endure traffic jams to be greeted by uninspired desks, stressed-out colleagues and mediocre coffee?
A lot has been written about this topic in the past 18 months.
But I wanted to do a little more than be philosophical. I wanted to look at a real office space, with real people and real business challenges.
So, I hooked up with some friends to actually design an 2023 office concept experience.
Alain Thys is an experience architect who helps organisations drive profit and transformation through experience.