Written by Ariad Communications on March 28, 2014
in Customer Experience

Customers have functional and emotional needs. The brands that create the best customer experiences get the balance right between serving these different needs.

But often, I find, brands serve my functional needs, but under-deliver on the emotional side. This recent case from Scotland illustrates the point perfectly. After a mom spent two years campaigning for improved wheelchair access to her house for her daughter, the council built this. That’s right, the council decided the answer to the mom’s functional access challenge was a 60m long, 10-level, $60,000 ramp that has obliterated the front yard of the property.

To make matters worse the council doesn’t even see this as a problem! In the report the council makes it clear they feel they have solved the functional access issue: “This led to the installation of the wheelchair ramp as requested by the family.”

For the council, there is no emotional consideration, despite the all too obvious emotional reaction to encountering their creation.

The example perfectly illustrates why it is so important for brands to account for both the emotional and functional needs of their audiences when designing experiences, or solving functional problems. For great customer experiences there are three questions brands need to address for every customer interaction:

  1. What is the customer doing?
  2. What are the customer’s needs?
  3. What is the customer’s perception of what’s happening?

The first two questions are potentially functional in nature. But the piece that stops function overriding all other concerns is the crucial third question. Perception is all about the emotion and feeling of an experience.

It is only by asking ourselves what people will think of our decisions and how they will feel, that we will stop yard-destroying ramps being constructed.

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