Monday, September 29, 2014

Thinking like a customer

I experienced a good demonstration of marketers who still think in company terms rather than customer journeys.  I was at a Fair Trade Fair at a stall selling chocolate.  I love really high cacao chocolates, especially dark 95% cacao bars (I've never found 100!). So my first question was what the % cacao  levels of their bars were. 

The user (me) experience thought process: What is important to me?  Cacao level, taste, price, fair trade . . . Since I was at a fair trade fair, I could assume that one.  So really, all I needed to know where the other attributes.

The vendor thought process:  How do I (his company) differentiate our bars from the competition?  We are fair trade.  We certainly don't compete on price.  Most companies offer a variety of cacao levels.  So when I am staffing a booth, I should focus on the fair trade attribute.

See how these two things are in direct conflict?  If it was a dark chocolate fair, perhaps I would be sold by a fair trade argument.  But in customer journey, it makes no sense. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Becoming a mensch in 7 steps

I am riffing on a column from the September 29 issue of Time magazine by Kristin van Ogtrop.  She mentions several of these, but I am adding, subtracting, and changing them around.  And I added the “mensch” part.

  1. Do something nice for someone completely anonymously.  No possible way to get acknowledgement, credit, or appreciation from the recipient or anyone else.  Just for the sake of it.  And not by paying for something.  You have to put in some physical and/or mental effort.   Concentrate on how good it feels when there is no personal reward.
  2. Take care of someone, even an animal, in a serious and committed way.  Volunteer regularly at a nursing home long enough to develop attachments to the residents. Read stories to young patients in a cancer ward (again, regularly enough to develop attachments).
  3. Do an unpleasant job.  We have all seen (at least on commercials) the Dirty Jobs guy.  If you saw his TED talk, you will know that he admires how much respect his coworkers have for themselves and for each other and for their work.  Develop some of that respect for people who have jobs you never plan to do yourself (except for now).
  4. Cook a meal for a family (at least 4, but 6-8 is even better) that is healthful, filling, tasty, and costs less than $2 per person.  Realize how many people around the world don’t have it even this good.
  5. Write a heartfelt, handwritten, personal letter to someone.  Preferably a thank you letter or an admiration letter for something really good they did.  Use real stationary if you can find any.  Use a serious writing style – no LOLs.
  6. For an entire year, every time you buy something give away an equivalent to someone who needs it. If you buy a new electronic device, donate one to a school.  When you go grocery shopping, donate some food to a food bank.  When you buy clothes, donate some old clothes to a shelter.  When you fly, donate the frequent flier miles to charity.
  7. Unplug from everything for a week.  Not just your digital toys.  Go somewhere you can be totally alone with your thoughts.  No connectivity and no people.  Think about how many people do this without choice – dying patients who have been abandoned by their family.  Prisoners in solitary.  Shut-ins. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Red wine instead of exercise

Of course, I have serious doubts that there is much basis in truth to this.  According to the headline, one glass of red wine is the equivalent of one hour of exercise.  I am not sure if 5 glasses of wine translates to five hours of exercise, so you will have to read the article details. But I also have doubts about the first one.

I am sure that the science was done in the usual way that science is done.  Science is a very focused, targeted, investigation of limited hypotheses with specific subdomains of application and with a certain level of uncertainty.  It is when the media (or even worse - bloggers!!!) get their hands on it, that we get the earth shattering headlines that suck us into the story.

But in this case, I am going to focus on my wonderful powers of self-delusion.  I love red wine and I have given up exercise for a little while. This seems to be the perfect solution to my dilemma.  I just have to believe it.  I just have to combine self-delusion, the placebo effect, confirmation bias, and identity resonance.  And abra cadabra.

Friday, September 26, 2014

This Week in EID Episode 22

Sometimes it surprises me which articles get the most response.  I leave the sophisticated analytics to Keith, but when I cross-post on LinkedIn groups I see how many comments and likes the discussion gets.  Sometimes I participate but other times it seems to be doing quite nicely on its own. 

For the past couple of days, the Ed Tech article from Tuesday has been lighting it up.  The thrust of the discussion is about the contrast between designs that focus on promoting real education and those that are geared towards business metrics – cheaper, wider distribution, spiffy tech, long features lists to promote – you know the drill here.  Keith and I are already queueing up education-related topics for the future, maybe one a week.

Another topic that seems to be getting traction, although it is early still, is Wednesday's article on the hospital user experience and how it can improve health outcomes.  We have long known about the power of positive thinking.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that when patients are treated with dignity they experience less pain, fewer side effects, and heal faster.  Turns out, care-givers do better too.  Fewer errors, more efficient and effective care.  So I already have another one of these on my list – perhaps for early October.

Thursday’s post that cited the Daily Tech News Show was fun because the host contacted me on Twitter with some great compliments on my article.  I often get retweeted, but Tom took some real personal time.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

And then the one that I thought would get the most comments didn’t.  That was Monday’s article on behavioral nudges in the insurance industry.  Usually the behavioral science folks are pretty reliable commenters on LinkedIn.  But not this week.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Coffee drinker blindness

Did you know, coffee drinkers are less able to identify and describe their emotions?  Scientific evidence and everything !!! 

There are a few hypotheses of why this might be true:

  • It could be the reverse causation – that people who can’t identify their emotions are more likely to drink coffee.  Perhaps because they think the caffeine will awaken some emotion inside that they can’t feel.
  • But I think it is neurological.  Caffeine activates some neurotransmitter that blocks the link between the speech area of your brain (Broca’s area) and the emotion area (amygdala).  So you feel the emotion, you just can’t talk about it.

Think about that little mystery next time you fill up your third cup for the morning.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Studio Journal Episode 14 – Finally, one about the UX of small sizes

I know I framed this journal as a series of posts about the user experience of living in a small studio apartment and yet the first dozen posts were mostly about the moving process.  I thought the topics that I covered were interesting and somewhat relevant to the theme, so I included them.  But now I want to try to focus more on the original “UX of small” theme.

Appliances:  I never really thought about this before, but a refrigerator that is ¾ the size of a standard model  only fits about half as much stuff.  The electronics in the back is about the same size and the insulation requires the thickness of the sides and door to be the same size.  So to make it ¾ the size, they have to cut the interior in half.  You don’t notice it at first because the design changes are subtle.  But there are only two rows on the door and they are very slim.  The drawer on the bottom for produce is deceptively small and there is only one. 

This winds up changing a lot of my eating habits in ways I wouldn’t have guessed.  I used to cook for a week and store the leftovers in the fridge or freezer.  Can’t do that now.  I used to buy some staples in bulk, can’t do that now. And I have to go shopping more often.  I actually had to toss some leftover pizza – not because it was old but because there was no room left.