How to reframe your thinking to delight your users

Peter de Boer
March 19th, 2019
Article by: Peter de Boer
How to reframe your thinking to delight your users

At the best restaurant in the world, you can order a dish called "Oops! I dropped the lemon tart."

 

This quirky dessert – which has been covered on shows like Netflix's Chef's Table – has a charming origin story. It came about when the sous chef of Osteria Francescana accidentally dropped a lemon tart before serving it.

 

Instead of reprimanding him and serving a new tart, chef and owner Massimo Bottura was inspired by the turn of events. He decided to serve the dish as if the lemon tart fell on the ground. "It's amazing. It's the metaphor for south of Italy," Bottura said. "You're breaking the border between sweet and savory and it doesn't matter if it's perfect.[...]It’s also the way to make everyone feel comfortable, even if you’re not used to eating in the best restaurant in the world. Who cares? Look at that. He made a mistake."

 

Stories like that of "Oops! I dropped the lemon tart" illustrate the importance of delighting your customers, relating with them in unique and surprising ways.

Delighting users is fun and profitable

Delighting your customers is not only fun – which is rewarding enough – but there is a tremendous financial benefit to making your customers happy. In my experience, your media and marketing spend drops by some 80%, your customer churn evaporates, and your customer experience rating sustains an average of 9.2 out of 10. By offering a delightful experience, you build loyal customers who leverage their experience. They become your salesmen and women.

Many companies currently offer delighting experiences. I am delighted when I’m in The Dusty Knuckle Bakery in London. The bakery, which started out in a shipping container and is now situated in a backyard in Dalston, London, bakes the best bread in the world. I’m also delighted when I’m at Harvey Nichols – it’s a kind of design Walhalla. All the products are wrapped in outstanding design, it is an abundant collection of ideas brought to life, and their own label designs are also irresistible. I also love Aesop stores. They are all very different, but in every store, you “feel” the same brand heartbeat. The subtle smell of cosmetics immediately makes you feel relaxed.

reframe your thinking to delight your users
By offering a delightful experience, you build loyal customers who become your salesmen and women. #delightingusers #customerexperience #branding Click To Tweet

“Oops! I dropped the lemon tart” photo courtesy of Paolo Terzi, Business Insider.

What these three examples have in common is that they do not judge me as a customer; they are there to delight me for who I am. Mainstream marketing is never subtle; it is often blunt and rude in its efforts to sell to you. While these examples are all commercial entities, they have an elegant politeness which is very pleasant and powerful. They are authentic, with a core identity and soul, which is very different from a promotional offer. It is an invitation to purchase.

You’ll notice that many companies who do this are smaller, more privately-owned companies. Creating a fun experience is more difficult for larger, public companies, who tend to be risk-averse when it comes to innovation and change. Corporate executives are not hired to take risks; they are hired to cover up and block risks because shareholders do not like risks. Shareholders like good stock prices, which means any disruption that might cause unrest will cause stock prices to drop.

There must be an end to this. If they do not change radically, they might cease to exist. We see a lot of mainstream players in serious trouble now, like Sears and Toys “R” Us. So, how can organizations delight their users to keep up with today’s fast pace of innovation?

reframe your thinking to delight your users
If large companies do not change radically, they might cease to exist. How can organizations delight their users to keep up with today’s fast pace of innovation? #innovation #delightingusers #branding Click To Tweet

Challenge convention to delight your users

A lot of people think that disruptive innovation means throwing everything away and starting over on a blank slate. But that is not true – that is the realm of artists. Innovation becomes easier when you split tradition from its conventions. Take an insurance policy, which is mostly 60 to 70 pages of legal language which only lawyers understand. The tradition is that you make a promise, or a deal, between an individual and a company – so a handshake should do it. However, the current conventions around insurance turn that deal into a very complex contract filled with legal jargon. What if you broke this convention and became the first insurer in the world to accept a handshake as a symbol of closing the deal? In court, people swear (on the bible) to speak the truth and nothing but the truth – just like presidents do when they are inaugurated. If it is good enough for a president, why not for your car insurance?

When Massimo Bottura decided to use the broken lemon tart as his dish, he was challenging the conventional wisdom of how a perfect dessert is served – not the ingredients of the dessert!

While Bottura’s discovery was a beautiful accident, what I try to do with my clients is deliberately demolish the conventional wisdom around their business. In order to challenge the conventions of your industry or organization, it can be helpful to examine your company through the lens of leaders in other industries. How would BMW run your organization? What would Picasso have done? Oxfam? Desmond Tutu?

By doing this, it allows you to view your organization from a different perspective, which in turn helps you come up with different, more innovative solutions.

reframe your thinking to delight your users
When you challenge the conventional wisdom of your industry, it allows you to view your organization from a different perspective, which helps you come up with different, more innovative solutions. #innovation #branding #delightingusers Click To Tweet

Delight users, don't lose them

It’s important to keep in mind the feasibility of your innovations. I use Raymond Loewy’s MAYA Principle (Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable) to describe the imagination but also restraint needed when designing a delightful experience. Push your idea to its limits, and then pull back to what is acceptable.

Finally, to determine whether you have a delightful product, do the irresistibility test. Is your value proposition:

  1. Crystal clear?
  2. Relevant?
  3. Trustworthy?
  4. Distinctive?
  5. Inspirational?

Nowadays, it is also important to include social responsibility in your business model. When social responsibility is a part of your business, you can build a more authentic relationship with your customers. I can look those small companies in the eyes. I cannot look Unilever in the eyes; I have no idea who Unilever is.

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When conventional wisdom is challenged, we as consumers are pleasantly surprised and a spark of chemistry with the creator is ignited. Challenge the conventional wisdom of your industry and delight your users to build a critical mass of loyal customers and a successful business with a true and sincere identity in line with the values of your brand.

To discover the effectiveness of reframing your thinking to delight your users, join the THNK Executive Leadership ProgramDownload the brochure or find out if you qualify.

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