The Experience Economy

Maya Angelou said it best, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

While one could argue this doesn’t apply to certain markets and industries, it’s certainly a perspective worth considering. Coming out of an era when economies of scale and a global manufacturing supply chain resulted in an overs94aturated competition for cheaper goods and services, it’s becoming apparent there’s more to providing meaningful value. In a market flooded with commodities and competition, a person’s experience is becoming the invisible measuring stick every business, organization, and platform is subjected to.

This idea isn’t new, it’s just becoming more important as a means of distinction in a crowded marketplace. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore published a book in 1998 titled, “The Experience Economy.”  In it they described the experience economy as the next economy following the agrarian, industrial, and most recently: the service economy.

While having a whole economy based on experience might sound grandiose, it’s certainly a factor in our day to day decision making of where to go, what to do, and what to buy. Therefore I’m an advocate of organizations taking more time than before to deeply understand their users and designing an experience that delights them, because not only is it part of a good business strategy, it’s also empathetic, thoughtful, kind, and considerate.Word_of_mouth_500

The biggest challenge lies in catering to different preferences across all touchpoints. On different preferences, take the example of a restaurant. A good waiter knows how to tailor a different and appropriate experience for: a couple on an anniversary, a girls night out, a first date, etc. With different touchpoints, take the experience of using Airbnb. Everything from finding where you want to stay and booking a reservation to getting the keys and interacting with the host accumulates to our perceived overall experience. It’s in Airbnb’s interest to increase the likelihood of each stage being enjoyable, even though something like how the host interacts with the new guests might seem out of their jurisdiction.

The ability for technology to learn our preferences, such as the Nest Thermostat, or provide the right information, at the right time, given our context, such as Google Now, are leading examples of designed products and services that take into account different preferences and touchpoints, delivering better experiences. These concepts were born from Insightful Empathy.