Customer experience design requires us to take a barbell approach.

For example, I’ve recently started using Headspace, the meditation app, at home with one of my kids.

While meditation content and podcasts have been around forever, Headspace is a living example of the night-and-day difference between available and seamless: the Headspace experience is oh-so-smooth, the videos crisp, fun and engaging (whether you’re a kid or an adult), there’s a flow that keeps you engaged and continuing to meditate daily, with no distractions. Because the interactions have no bumps, the experience shifts from “try this a few times and drop it” to getting loads of busy newbies to meditate daily. Plus, the Ellen Degeneres show.

When we take the barbell approach, we move uncomfortably fast at the beginning: putting out products that don’t feel ready, testing like crazy, falling down a bunch, and iterating.

And then, at some discontinuous point, we must cross over from “messy and fast” to “seamless.”

This involves relentless focus to smooth off every edge, flatten out every bump, until our customer or our funder has to take as few steps as possible, and each of those steps is a joy.

The pitfall for nonprofits and social sector organizations is our habit of living in the middle of this barbell: we go much too slowly and are far too precious at the beginning, and we never get to that beauty at the other side.

Hint: if you haven’t ever sat with your team to map each and every step in your customers’ / funders’ journey, now is a good time to do that.

And, once you lay them out, see how many of them you can circle and describe as “Delightful!”

(p.s. for those of you who were paying close attention, no, I’m not planning to add the word ‘excellent’ to every blog title. Darned copy/paste gnomes!)


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