By Greg Muller, Chief Executive Officer
As published on SmartCompany, Friday 11 November 2011.
Much has been said about the life of Steve Jobs. Speaking to friends, family and colleagues recently, our lives could have been very different without his vision and persistence to delivering amazing customer experiences.
For me, Jobs will be remembered for his clarity and simplicity in design. He had this unbelievable knack of making what could be very complex, pleasantly simple and engaging. This is his brilliance because it is so hard to achieve.
So, what can we learn from Jobs to help us better connect with customers and grow our businesses? I have put together a list of what I think could be his “Seven Laws of Customer Experience” and what they mean for our businesses.
- Be passionate. Jobs was a master of engaging and leading an audience. His ability to articulate a problem and explain with conviction and passion why he had the answer was truly masterful. Customers, industry and staff will follow you if you have clear vision and are passionate about the solution. Be confident about how you’ll solve their problems.
- Simplify your design. Jobs was a great believer that design was not just about how a device looked, rather how the entire experience came together. For us, it’s about looking beyond the store front, website interface or product look and feel. Constantly challenge yourself to simplify your design and message. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking what you do requires complex language and complex design.
- Start by removing the barriers in your design process. Each time I try a new Apple device I always get a “wow” moment. We all tend to limit ourselves before we begin designing a new process or product. Next time, totally remove the constraints. Be boundary-less and remove the restrictive paradigms we place on ourselves. Get yourself into a frame where nothing is sacred and jot down the “what if we could [insert your big idea]”. Use these as your new frame of reference and then work backwards to identify the steps to achieving it.
- Back yourself. Jobs was a great one for saying that your customers don’t often know what they want and you therefore should be careful designing new products based on the feedback they provide. Don’t get me wrong – you must listen to what your customers are saying, however, when designing something new, use these as inputs to provide context, but don’t dwell on them. Innovation requires knowing your audience, removing old design paradigms and backing yourself.
- Be consistent. One thing about Apple products is that they all have the same DNA. At each touchpoint – product, online, in store – it’s all very much the same. There’s a comfort we all get when you know you’ve been somewhere before. While many of us are generally willing to try something new, it’s generally contingent on having a base level of comfort and knowledge. Jobs’ ability to create this feel of sameness and “family” over the years has created loyal, long-time customers who love talking about the product.
- Make it work with limited customer effort. Turn it on, it works. Try to link it with another device, it works. It’s seamless – it feels like they’ve thought of everything! Well, the fact is that they probably have. A great customer experience and it gets us talking to others about how easy it was. To make something simple you need to have a clear goal and a well-rounded understanding of the problems you’re trying to solve.
- Focus. Don’t try to be everything. Jobs wasn’t trying to over deliver in the products he put to market. Many would say that Apple products in the main aren’t as fully featured as other options. Have a goal in mind and stick to it. Get it done and do it really well. In our businesses we always find ourselves out of time and forever needing to fix things. Focus, deliver, iterate.
Delivering customer experiences that people want to talk about positively with others takes effort, teamwork and belief. Never get complacent and assume you have a solution “nailed” because before you know it, customer expectations will have evolved and competitors will be two steps ahead.