On 25-Oct-07, Brandon Schauer of Adaptive Path wrote an essay about customer loyalty, called “The Long Wow.” In his essay, he makes the argument that customer satisfaction is not the same as customer loyalty, and that we ought to grow our interest in the latter. In the middle of his essay, he talks about how deep customer understanding can produce continuous “wow” moments. Mental models help you capture raw data and convert it into a deep understanding of your customer, and hence into empathetic product design.
Specifically, Brandon writes:
“Notably great experiences are punctuated by a moment of “wow,” when the product or service delights, anticipates the needs of, or pleasantly surprises a customer. OXO’s Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup triggers such a moment of wow. A set of angled markings on the OXO cup lets you quickly measure liquids for recipes without having to stop cooking and bend over. Suddenly a little part of your life is easier, because OXO thought carefully about the way you cook. This delightful surprise resonates because it feels tailored to your needs.
OXO was driven by empathy for their customer. Designers learn empathy by spending time in the lives and environments of real customers, then simulating the experiences that people will have with new offerings through prototyping.
Deep customer insights and empathetic design pave the pathway to wow moments. By diving deep into a customer’s life and closely observing their behaviors, you can wow your customer by addressing needs that they’d never be able to articulate. By immersing yourself in the customer’s wider world of emotion and culture, you can wow them by attuning the offering to practical needs and dimensions of delight that normally go unfulfilled.”
This is exactly what I mean when I make a mental model. If I had made the mental model of a cook in a home kitchen, I probably would have had a tower called “Measure Ingredients” with little boxes called “Read the Level on the Glass Measuring Cup” and “Feel Knee Pain When Squatting to Read Glass Measuring Cup,” among others. Beneath this tower all the measuring devices in a home kitchen would appear, but upon inspection (prior to OXO) you would see that none of them address the knee pain issue. Thus, an opportunity presents itself, one that OXO solved with it’s angled markings.