When we're busy delivering IT services to our organization, we often think of attributes like "better, faster, more reliable" and those are certainly admirable attributes. Do our customer use these same words to describe IT services we deliver? Usually not. More often we hear "slow, frustrating, cumbersome" to describe IT solutions.
We often fail to really stop and consider the customer. I'm certainly guilty of that at times - we are pushed to deliver ever more at an increasing pace and sometimes we just run from fire to fire in hopes of staying only slightly behind. However when we're looking at a new solution, a new service, or a new technology we really are remiss if we don't stop long enough to figure out if we might find a way to wow our customers.
Imagine for a moment a customer exclaiming "Wow, that's awesome!" or "Wow, it's even better than I hoped" or "I am really excited, this solution is going to make a huge difference...." It's a powerful experience to hear that from your customers, but one we rarely do.
Why? I think in most cases it's a mindset problem. We just don't stop to think about that. Imagine if, during project definition one of the criteria for success was "to wow our customers" or "to exceed their expectations." What might a project look like then?
1. We'd develop more detailed success criteria that defines the attributes that would wow our customers such as "login time under 2 seconds" or "image retrieval time under 3 seconds" or "no more than two clicks to key data" - the list goes on.
2. We'd actually talk with our customer before we start to understand what they need, what they expect and what would be a game changer. Of course, we can't always deliver game-changing solutions, but it would be nice to know what that might look like, wouldn't it?
3. We'd seek to define solutions based on these criteria and not just geeky tech specs like IOPS or bandwidth. Granted, most of our opportunities to wow customers are at the application level, but even infrastructure-based applications such as two-factor authentication or services such as password reset can be viewed from the customer perspective early in the process.
Every time we deliver a solution that does what it should technically, but is difficult to use, slow or frustrating, we fail. We create what I refer to as technology friction. Those little distractions and slow-downs throughout the day that just waste micro-moments of time. Five extra seconds waiting for the screen to refresh, 25 seconds waiting for a file to open from a network location, ten seconds every time you log into Application A, which you do about 12 times per day....the list goes on. Friction. It's a waste of time, but more importantly, it's a waste of mental energy. It's one of the reasons many people are exhausted by the end of a work day...slogging through friction is exhausting.
These are opportunities to ensure we look at customer needs and find a way to not only meet the need but to do so with the lowest friction possible. We rarely stop to think about the customer experience nor the friction we will be inflicting upon our users. If we did, we'd likely find more elegant solutions for our customers and begin to reduce daily friction. Imagine what that would feel like.