The Element in the Room: What No One Says About Consumer Experience

This may seem like a no-brainer, but think about this question for a moment: Who does your company actually report to – who’s the real boss?

Give it a few minutes, really roll around the idea in your mind. Do you have the answer?

If you mentioned one specific person’s name, you did not pass go – and you certainly won’t be collecting $200.

Breaking news: Your company’s boss – or bosses – are your consumers. Their experiences shape your company’s trajectory and ability to scale and find repeat success.

Consumer experience is the one defining factor that pushes your products and services to phenomenal new heights – and it has to be grown and tended to, not engineered.

Consumers can tell, and they’re the ones that actually pick the board game, make the decisions, and travel the buyer’s journey to the end result.

Their feedback and expectations are what you need to anticipate, react to, and pivot around as a business.

And that’s the unspoken word, the element that often gets picked last: The Human Element

2017 was the year of content marketing, and 2018 is no different. Consumers want more and more content, and less and less advertisements. A study by Curata shows that 74% percent of companies indicate increased lead quality and quantity because of content marketing. AdBlocker use is also up 30% this year, according to Business Insider.

So what does that mean, exactly? It means that consumers are most driven by stories, emotions, and novelty. Not blatant advertisements, which they are actively avoiding.

Now more than ever, consumers are showing that they want to be treated like humans. They want to be engaged with emotionally. This is what quality consumer experience is all about – putting people first.

But how do you do that? It’s easier than it seems, especially when you keep authenticity, transparency, and empathy in mind.

Keep consumers in the game by putting people first.

Let’s say you have a popular photo-sharing app that millennials absolutely love. You want to implement a new feature that’s lauded as being better for users, but really it’ll just create more menus and flood users with unwanted options, essentially removing what made the app great in the first place.

No one wants to click through millions of menus just to take and post a snapshot. And millennials are extremely tech savvy multitaskers, so they’ll notice the delayed gratification instantaneously.

You’ve changed the game on them. The interaction you just created is an inauthentic one, and it devalues the consumer experience for the sake of a feature they don’t need or want.

But you think they want it. The data said they did, and so you implemented it.

But you did so without taking the Human Element into consideration.

Don’t destroy delight. Here’s how to make it right.

Don’t implement processes that destroy delight. Focus on increasing ease of use for your consumers, and genuinely listen to their feedback. When you make a better product with your users in mind, they’ll keep coming back for the quality of their experiences.

Put yourself in their shoes. Really use the app like your consumers would. What was frustrating? What was fun? What made you want to keep engaging, and what made you want to tip over the board and call it quits?

Empathy is a key factor in providing authentic and valuable consumer experiences.

When in doubt, actually create a campaign to gather consumer opinions. Email blasts that curiously ask for customers to fill out a feedback form work wonders for product development and amplifying consumer experiences. Share and spread the why and come from a place of service.

When you put the needs of the consumers first – and let profit become the result, not the goal – good things happen. Get your goals straight first and the results your shareholders seek will follow.

Transparency creates trust, and it’s good for business too!

42% of Americans think that brands and companies are less truthful today than they were 20 years ago, according to a survey shown at 4A’s Transformation Conference in 2017.

Transparency is another word to add to your list of key terms to keep in mind. No one, let alone a company, wants to admit that they made a misstep. But transparency – and yes, vulnerability – are absolutely vital to authenticity.

And authenticity is exactly what consumers want. They don’t simply want their challenges anticipated and needs met by a product or service. They want accountability. They want real answers.

You need to be willing to humanize yourself, your business, and your practices.

This way, your consumers can see you care about the most important element of all: the human one.

Improve outcomes by improving consumer experience.

By internalizing authenticity and putting consumers first, you make empathy the end-game. And this may change some things for your company. Your advertising campaigns will change. The way you market will change.  Being responsive to change is key to survival and let resilience be your roadmap.

And that’s okay because change is good – especially this kind of change.

Maybe you don’t think your company needs to change – that the way it’s “always been done” is the way that works, or the way it should always work.

But the playing field has changed, and without reflecting on your consumer-facing practices, your company might not be meeting their needs.

Even if you think you have all the cards, and the deck is stacked in your favor – you’ve yet again set yourself and your company up as the arbiter of what is ‘right’ by your consumer.

Consumers guide your company’s journey, not the other way around.

You have to be ready for empathy.

When you’re ready for it, reach out. We’ll be here to help you make the transition toward human-centric, consumer-focused marketing, design, and experiences.

And always remember: When you put people first, everyone wins.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Follow me on Twitter @petesena and let’s connect.