We talked previously about harmonious experiences and how all of the little things add up to either customer delight or disappointment. Many have tried dissecting Apple’s success and tomes have been written as a result. There are some salient summarizing points worth noting, especially because each of them can be incorporated into the delivery of our own art.
Less choice is good.
We all experience extremely busy lives, so much so that many of us feel overwhelmed by the addition of the slightest thing into our schedule or decision-making process. By keeping its product line simple and its options limited, Apple helps its customers make easier decisions about the products they want. For example, you can have a black or a white iPhone. It can have three different memory capacities. And other than the carrier you probably already have, that’s it for your choice.
Someone looking into the Android phone system to see a wealth of options and customization might see freedom. And for the tinkerers, that’s a great thing because they enjoy technology for technology’s sake. But for those who simply want to use technology to help enhance their lives without thinking much about the underlying technology, having fewer choices helps keep things simple. Keeping things simple helps reduce mental load. Reducing mental load reduces stress. And a reduction in stress leaves more space for love. Love for you and love for what you give your clients.
An example for a wedding photographer might be to pick one or two types of albums instead of five or six. Within those one or two types, don’t even show the various cover options. Let your client know you’ll be making a personal recommendation for them. If you enable them to select their own images, help them along by selecting a set of photographer favorites to help seed the set. When presenting the design, present it as a finished work, ready for printing and binding, instead of asking what changes they want. Leading your client along a simple path, where you’ve already established a trust relationship and they’re relying on you and your good advice can help reduce that mental load of your clients. There’s that love thing again.
Quality is key.
The best customer service in the world, with the most lovely, attentive people around isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans if your art doesn’t match the experience the client’s otherwise having. Apple’s products aren’t always the fastest, smallest, biggest, or whatever your criteria is, in the world, but they’re typically very well made and in many respects are the best in their class (MacBook Air), if they’re not the first to market (iPhone). Their customers pay a premium for that quality combined with the experience of ownership.
Give them a superlative experience.
Remember each touch point a client has with you is an opportunity to delight or to disappoint. Being able to automatically backup one’s digital life and sync calendars, contacts, email, photos, and documents across all Apple devices is exceedingly helpful. While iCloud was a long time in the making and many mistakes were made along the way, Apple persevered until they got it right (or reasonably close–there’s still work to be done there). Contrast that with Blackberry who, upon reaching market dominance, made only incremental improvements in their products and were thus completely taken aback by the success of Android and iPhone smartphones.
We all have limits on what we can do, and it’s the times when we push back or say, “Yes, although…” that make the difference. So when responding, take the time to consider how your client is feeling and how they’ll feel with your response. Is it delight or at least understanding, or is it disappointment or worse, anger? When thinking of you, people will remember less the art you’ve made for them and more how you’ve made them feel.
Tell a story.
This is so important! Especially if your clients don’t have much experience with your art. Help them see what they can see, feel, or do with what you create for them. Contrast how Apple markets the iPad versus the currently running commercial for Microsoft’s Surface tablet. In Microsoft’s commercial, I can see a well-choreographed dance routine, but I don’t see how the Surface, which is by any account a premium, well-designed product, helps me in my daily life. Even the most recent iPad commercial featuring the iPad mini tells a story, albeit one that’s more targeted and focused than what Apple usually does. Google is masterful about their storytelling as well. Tell your clients a story to which they can relate to their own lives, and they’ll love you for it.