Connecting Through Experiences

Gaining likes on a brand Facebook page in exchange for a chance to win an iPad (not the brand's product) is a tactic that has run its course. It is a bribe and should not be confused with having customers line up outside your store for hours to pay hard-earned money to buy an iPad.

The difference is this

  • In the first case, a brand offers a reward for taking an action — like me to (maybe) win = bribe
  • In the second, the action takes the customer on the path to the personal reward — essentially buying his own ability to do something new with it = loyalty to self

This is the main concept Kathy Sierra# puts forth in her lifelong work to create passionate users and the reason why your customers are slipping through leaky experiences.

What is then the best way to create an experience that helps take the customer on the path of personal reward? Hold that cart for a second.

We connect through experiences.

Which is why even though we have plenty of ways to look for and acquire things, entertain ourselves, and even send messages to anyone (most) anywhere in the world through social networks, web sites, and email, we still love going to events.

Find information about 94 active events with Twitter streams here; and this is just a small taste of what is going on that is generally related to business, technology, and the convergence of the two in English.

New Meetup# groups are created daily in hundreds of categories; a million years ago (1999-2007) I hosted monthly events with a group that was part of a global movement known as Fast Company network; very much in a similar format to Creative Mornings# (easier to get the word out now with Twitter, Facebook, and blogs).

Toastmasters, glocal associations (networks with groups in many cities)… you name it, chances are there is one of them in your area. Brands entered the fray with communities of practice — think developers, for example. The idea is to have a place and forum where you can find and connect with people like you — interests, profession, affinities, etc.

Connections happen in real life.

Why customer conversations

I've been using this expression to refer to interactions with customers — be it to provide a service, or to deliver an experience — because conversation is the act of turning to each other, with the added bonus of creating the conditions for connecting on the basis of shared interests, motivations, and needs.

When we talk about creating good user experiences, we focus on making it easier for people to do what they want to do — intent — understanding motivation and the context — or where it happens. For example, mobility vs. mobile mindset.

The word conversation comes from Old French conversation, from Latin conversationem, literally “the act of living with, which became synonym with “talk only in the 1570s.

Going back to the distinction between offering a bribe and creating the conditions for a personal reward, your job is to provide that context that makes something happen for your customers, users, and audiences.

Experiences worth having, and talking about, are those that leave a positive feeling as a result, something they will remember with fondness. The feeling being the connective tissue. Think: laughter as the shortest distance between two people. That kind of feeling develops as part of a shared experience, the basis for getting to know each other and build relationships and culture.

A new report# by Fortune Knowledge Group and Gyro [hat tip Ardath Albee#] finds that “soft” factors—such as trust, relationships, and reputation—still as important as ever — things like culture (53%) and reputation (70%).

Why is it, then, that so many brands insist on optimizing transactions and focusing only on “quick wins” even when they may leave a bad aftertaste?


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Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.