How would you feel if your spouse stuck this message on the refrigerator door?
Me? I would feel like we were in a rut, the romance dried-up and heading for divorce. ‘Doing what you’re supposed to do’ is foundational for any relationship, but, in most cases, it’s not enough to stay married.
Our ancient brain circuits are hard-wired for relationships with individuals and small groups. They are not, however, hard-wired for forming relationships with large companies and brands. And that’s a challenge when, in today’s society, we want to make people love brands and feel genuine affection for companies.
Welcome to the experience economy, to Experience Management (XM) – the process of designing and nurturing relationships between organizations and people – and to the Xperience Level Agreement framework that stitches together the wildly different worlds of tech and touch.
Why XLA? In B2B technology, we focus on delivering pragmatic value, like functionality and reliability. And we expect customers or users to be delighted by this. But why should they be? We’re confusing the content of the sticky note message for the context of a deeper relationship. One of the experience management flaws in the IT services industry is that we focus on getting the basics right but forget what’s needed to involve people (customers, users, employees, stakeholders) emotionally as well. Empathy, joy, purpose, and others ‘things’ add an emotional value to relationships that goes beyond practical importance. We ask silly questions like ‘would you recommend us’ based on simple transactions such as the timely fulfillment of a service request.
There are two related zones in a relationship: the broader ‘zone of experience’ and the tighter ‘zone of tolerance’. Experience is the process of stretching beyond the boundaries of tolerance. Tolerance is the span of a person’s expectations: the minimum I settled for and what I expect in my definition of a good service or product. Within these boundaries, I probably will be satisfied. When the service is less, I get frustrated. And when the service I get is more than I expected, I’m delighted.
To design for Wow, you need to address both practical value and emotional value, a way of thinking and doing that is central to the XLA concept.