Although “Can’t innovate… my ass” may become the most quoted phrase of today’s Apple WWDC Keynote Address, the words that I thought were the most powerful were first in the opening video and repeated again in Tim Cook’s closing comments: “Whenever we design a new product, the first thing we ask is ‘what do we want people to feel?'”
That is the definition of Customer Experience, and it’s at the heart of what Apple does.
Customer Centricity needs to be exactly that: Centric …to everything. It needs to drive product design and all aspects of customer interaction, and it needs to be fueled by passion – passion that comes from the focus and examples that are set by leadership and spread throughout the organization with contagion.
Focus and Passion
Let’s face it, having 1) a kick-ass product that solves a real business problem and 2) a delightful customer experience in every interaction with your company (marketing, sales, support, customer success, services, finance) are the “New Normal”. Making a real difference, however requires a real passion for the customer – from the top down. It requires the entire company to be passionate about the product, the customer, and the experience that their company provides. In order for passion to ignite and spread, it needs to be aligned with a common vision, because everyone needs to be passionate about the same thing. The Apple WWDC Keynote presentation this morning was a great example of that common vision. The start of the presentation talked about focus and ended with the same focus. In Tim Cook’s closing words: “Our goal is to make amazing products that our customers love. Really great products that enrich customers lives. More than just words. They’re the values we live by. They drive us. ‘Designed by Apple in California’ – This is our signature, and it means everything.” The signature. It’s personal. It represents ownership. And Apple signs their products because they represent their customer-centric values.
I’ll admit, I’m a self proclaimed Apple FanBoy, so I think it’s helpful to point out some additional examples where Focus and Passion come through in the product and customer experience:
Tesla: Elon Musk has been compared to Steve Jobs more than once. He is an incredible marketer and if entrepreneurs were rated on a scale of 1-10, he’d be a 20. I do not own a Tesla; however everyone that I know who does (and there are a number of them) loves the product, the company, and the experience. A Tesla isn’t just a car. It is a passion-driven, game changing, customer centric experience, and Tesla owners own the experience, not just the car – from sales/distribution to service, to “refueling”. I’ve seen, and continue to see unsolicited posts on social media from owners endorsing the product. (Real “Promoters” in Customer Experience parlance)
Virgin America: Another example of a company taking an industry and creating a differentiated offering – focused on the Customer Experience. After almost 3 million miles, I can personally attest to the fact that the air travel experience in general, for the most part, well, sucks. The Virgin Group has taken a different, better, customer centric approach and made improved it. Emotionally. Really. It makes people feel better about air travel. So much so, that they promote the brand. Multiple friends and colleagues of mine have posted unsolicited kudos about Virgin on social media. I have yet to see someone I know do that for another airline. Richard Branson, another great entrepreneur created the Virgin experience and helped rally the internal organization around the focal point of improving the experience of air travel, and truly offering something different. That everyone was passionate about.
So as you think about these customer experiences… and your own, ask yourself “What do *you* want people to feel?”