Experience designers are tasked with the responsibility to deliver consistent brand experiences to their customers, regardless of the context or environment. From the call center, to the aromas used in a store, the intention behind customer service initiatives must be to deliver a holistic brand experience that resonates with the customer at an emotional level. Moreover, that emotion can be instilled by careful design.
But according to Stevy Baty, principal at Meld Studios, experience designers are failing to consider experiences in the context of emotion. Partly because they are asking the wrong questions, but mostly because they are continuously evaluating experience with respect to singular touch points. For example, by asking customers whether something was “easy to use” or “intuitive”, you reduce experience to a singular context, reflecting one environment and a bevy of individual perceptions and biases. In other words, the answers to those questions will lead you down any number of paths; none of which necessarily lead to an answer that will help you build consistency with your brand.
Instead, he argues, experiential designers should turn their attentions to the aspects of experience that don’t change. In his words:
Our focus, then, falls to the emotional response participants have when undertaking these activities, and perceiving through their senses. It is the emotional response that provides a consistent design intent across environments, touchpoints, interactions.
By intentionally crafting experiences with a specific emotion in mind, experiential designers are more likely to deliver a consistent brand experience that builds rapport with customers. In this light, the goal is first to decide which emotion that you are trying to achieve, and next, to execute that plan with careful consideration, backed by research. The aim could be for any number of emotions; confidence, a feeling of importance or capability, but it must be clear. All other considerations fall to the wayside. Individuals perceptions to specific interactions are useful, but far too whimsical as a reliable source of data. Bety writes:
When we express our intent in these terms, we’re much better equipped to execute across different contexts and environments and achieve the same experience. “Easy to use” might be a useful descriptor for a digital interface, but it is inappropriate, and therefore largely meaningless, when designing, say, a retail presence or the logistics capability for an online purchase. Much better to employ ‘willingness to act’ as the desired experiential characteristic
The consideration of emotional response has to be made at all touch points and vary accordingly. Interactions over the phone differ than those made in person, but the challenge is to deliver continuity in both. Experience designers building brands as holistic experiences, cultivating intentional, emotional responses, may find themselves enjoying more profitable relationships with their customers, built on trust.