Visualizing Total Experience Outcomes
Being experience-led means literally that you start with the experience. Companies that differentiate on the experience today do not start by defining feature sets. They first define a vision for the experience outcome they intend for their users and customers. Only then do they define features and technologies to support this vision. They create a positive emotional engagement, so customers love it!
So many companies start with lists of features, but have very little vision of what the outcome will be for customers. An Experience Outcome vision doesn’t just list a feature. It highlights the experience a user will have with the feature. I talk with people every day who say they built all the features their customers asked for, but Sales teams could not sell the product. Let’s take an example– voicemail. If you have a feature on a list that says “Voicemail,” engineers will build it so you have to dial a phone number, wait for the system to answer, listen for 45 seconds to the prompts, enter the proper password and key sequence to get into voice mail, and press the right key sequence to listen to and dismiss each message, in sequence. However, if the Product Manager’s objective was to make the process simple, they would have failed. Instead, if you can show everyone on the team what you want to accomplish, they will find a way to do it. For example, you show them a list of voicemail messages, and let them tap one to play it, and they understand the experience outcome you are trying to accomplish. Visualization helps bring your concept to life, so everyone understands your intent. Here is an example of a simple set of visualizations we did to highlight a new product concept.
In the following visualization, the user goes into an app (we created both a Desktop and a Mobile version).
The traveler says he needs to travel to LA for a 6-day workshop in LA that starts the following Monday. Note that today, a traveler must search for flights, transportation to and from the airport, hotels, car rentals in separate searches. In fact, the average traveler looks at 16 different online sites, just to book a single trip. Our concept for the TripAway application would enable a traveler to pick up a mobile phone and speak in natural language into their phone, and have the system automatically identify all of the different modes of travel we just highlighted.
In this example, you can see that the system returned three complete itineraries:
- Cheapest, which would cost the traveler (or their company) less money, but would be less convenient and take the traveler longer
- Fastest, which is also the most expensive
- Balanced, which is the best combination of travel time (and convenience) and cost
The traveler chooses Fastest, for two reasons: First, his travel schedule is squeezed between arriving home from another trip, and the fact that he cannot be
late to the workshop Monday morning. Second, the incremental cost of the faster trip is small, which makes the convenience acceptable within corporate travel guidelines. When the traveler clicked on the Flight fro the list on the left, it brought up additional flight options.
He ended up choosing a different (cheaper) flight, and decided to add an in-flight alcoholic beverage to the cost of the flight.
In the end, he could have amended any of the travel options, but this prototype, which took 4 days to create, helps visualize the final outcome and experience. This represents only one of several pieces to the total product and experience, but it highlights how defining an Experience Outcome up front, with visualizations, and descriptions from the Product Manager, can drive a clear outcome. Of course, developing this system would require significant effort, because of the complexity on the back-end. At this point however, the Engineering team could identify the technology requirements to meet the objective in the visualization, and the PM could craft detailed requirements. In the end though, the team can see they’re looking to produce the equivalent of Visual Voicemail, not the old style voicemail systems of the 1990s. Visualizing experience outcomes helps drive differentiation.