Previous posts on the Mobile Monday London group addressed the challenges that mobile operators face when they communicate with their customers, and how the operators fail them. From the Posts it is easy to notice how people addressed all the negative aspects to the mobile provider, even when it wan not their responsibility.
Using a mobile device often leads to attributing good values to the phone manufacturer. But what happens if the use leads to bad experience? What if it is difficult to hear well or something is wrong with the phone?
In this case the blame would fall on the mobile operator. The reason for that is that mobile operators usually connect their offering, the ability to talk from almost anywhere, with the mobile device. Mobile operators rarely enjoy the luxury of having their own tangible experience connected to the main aspect of their offering. In rare cases, like in the Vodafone simply, they can design a holistic user experience that can transcends to the tangible experience and better relate to their users.
But what if the company’s business is not in designing mobile devices?
What if their business is all about intangible service? How can they differentiate themselves then?
One way they could take is to try and construct a successful relationship with their customers.
By designing a service that puts the focus on its emotional, as well as on its functional aspects, companies would gain better brand recognition, differentiation and loyalty.
Affective service, a service that addresses the customer’s emotional needs as well as the functional needs, views both the customer and the company as elements of a system which the product and the price are only parts of. Affective service also addresses other touch points that customers interacts with, like the bill statement or the sales rep, as points that impact the way that customers perceive both the service itself and the company which provides that service.
Affective service encourages the creation of a relationship with the customer. As such it aims, much like in real relationships, to sustain constant line of communication between the different stakeholders of the system. This allows early detection of friction points during the time the service is provided, not only after customers decided to leave. This can be done by creating touch points that periodically give companies feedback on the customer satisfaction level, and give customers information about opportunities they could benefit from.
Affective service looks at the way the needs of the stakeholders are met. Getting paid for a service (company’s need) is a legitimate request. The way that it is carried out can make or brake relationships.
Affective service offers the best service but also something more. Looking at the functional side is important but it is not the only thing. Beyond functionality comes the way that the service makes customers feel.
Affective service is proactive. It takes the initiative and offers customers real value that extends beyond the product’s scope. Reward programs, like the one that Mark Curtis wrote of, are one example for a proactive initiative that enforces this relationship. As companies know more of their customers’ preferences they could design these initiatives that meet different types of users.
Affective service looks at customers as beneficial members of the system. It involves users in the service design and looks for ways that improves users’ interaction and feelings about the service.
Designing affective service is a challenge but also an opportunity to create a meaningful relationship with their customers. This relationship is something that companies can only benefit from and customers are looking forward to.
For professionals that work in this field, this can be an opportunity to think how affective service relate to their business and maybe even send their insights.