Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Motives from Apple.

What is the similarity between Mac, iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes and other products Apple has ever created and will create in the future? Apart from having created products and services with a great design and a great user interface, Apple products and services deliver great user experiences. From the very start of the company until the introduction of the iPad, almost 40 years later, Apple always knows what customers want and why they want it. How does Apple know that? And, more important, what can you learn from it?

One of the reasons for its succes is that Apple never has had the ambition to create breakthrough technology. Unlike some other major computer and customer electronics companies. From the very start of the company Apple always has focussed on its users. Apple wants its products to be easily used by normal customers. One of Apple's core values is to create great user experiences and to develop products and services for that purpose. And to find out what customers want, Apple keeps on questioning its customer base.

Apple questions its customers on what they want to use, how they want to use it, when...... Apple wants to find out the customers' motives. The product itself, the design and the user interface are specifically developed in order to comply these motives. The process of development, designing and testing is characterized by paying attention to the tiniest little details and simplifying the product. This means building the product pixel by pixel and stripping it down until only the most relevant features remain. For Apple less means more.

In order to achieve great customer experiences at your own customer, how would you formulate questions about what customers really want? That is not easy. Consider yourself, being asked that question about mobile phones in the late eighties. When someone would have asked you: "Would you like to carry your phone, in your pocket all day long and call from every location of choice"? Given the timeframe, you probably would have said no. Same thing could happen when someone would have asked about sms in the early nineties. You would have given the same answer.

That is not strange at all. Most customers do not exactly know what they want, but they reject things they don't want. So they can't tell you what they really want. This paradox brings us to motives. Motives are psychological drivers that provoke action. Comfort can be a motive, money, effort or status. What customers do want is less effort, great user experience and value for money.

After understanding the motives, it is time to incorporate them. That is the hard part and it may take some time. Now you have to talk to a lot of people, change some processes, re-educate your employees and maybe you need to spend some money on IT. Though change is difficult, it is neccessary as customers tend to spend their money at a company which offers a great proposition and less effort when it comes to customer service.

So improving your customer processes and match them with customers' motives is not unwise. Because less effort means higher customer loyalty and customer retention. Further more these processes cost a lot of money. It is money spent wrong when customers suffer. Even the prospect of an iPod will not turn them into loyal and profitable customers.

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