Apple announce that iPhone 6 will go on sale at Midnight next Wednesday.
By Monday evening, the queue is already forming. Apple customers are putting themselves through 36 hours of ‘pain’ to become one of the first to own a new model of something they can get today.
You walk about a kilometre, have to drag items out of a warehouse and load them onto a trolley to go through check out at Ikea. Clients accept this pain to buy furniture (that will probably cause them even more pain when they get home and get out the allen key!)
You have to wait on hold for a phone operator for two minutes – and the wait is intolerable!
In business, we put our clients into three different types of pain:
1: Brand-reinforcing (valued) pain. This pain, like queuing outside Apple stores, is part of the ‘story’ and enhances the perceived value of the product or brand.
2. Acceptable pain. This is what we trade off for perceived value. All the self-serve aspects of Ikea, the set-up of discount outlets, the no-reserved seat on budget airlines. We accept the pain that is implied as we gain ‘value’ from a product or service.
3. Intolerable pain. This is the pain that customers experience which is either highly personal or do not expect. If we expect a certain level of service and it is not delivered, we will experience unacceptable pain. If we believe that the pain we are suffering is directed at us (we are being treated somehow unfairly) then it will trigger deep resentment, and become intolerable pain. This sort of pain damages brands.
As you think about enhancing the customer experience with your organisation, consider that not all pain is bad pain.
In fact, if you allow your client to experience the right types of pain, it can enhance their brand perception and overall consideration of the experience.
Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?
By deeply understanding your brand, your customer’s expectations, and the touch-points through which they engage with your brand and organisation, you can decide which ‘pain’ would be valuable to remove from customer experiences, and which to leave in (or enhance!)
Removing all pain can damage the overall experience. Customer ‘delight’ should be measured at the peak experience or at the conclusion of the experience, when the pain that they have endured becomes part of the overall tapestry of their experience.
As you think about your business, how do you define the customer ‘pain’? what is valued, what is acceptable, and where does your organisation create intolerable pain for your customers?
Based on this idea, what will you now do differently in your business?