PreviousÂ posts on the Mobile Monday London groupÂ addressed the challenges that mobile operators face when they communicateÂ with their customers, and how the operators fail them. From the Posts it isÂ easy to notice how people addressed all the negative aspects to the mobileÂ provider, even when it wan not their responsibility.
UsingÂ a mobile device often leads to attributing good values to the phoneÂ manufacturer. But what happens if the use leads to bad experience? What if itÂ is difficult to hear well or something is wrong with the phone?
InÂ this case the blame would fall on the mobile operator. The reason for that isÂ that mobile operators usually connect their offering, the ability to talk fromÂ almost anywhere, with the mobile device. MobileÂ operators rarely enjoy the luxury of having their own tangible experienceÂ connected to the main aspect of their offering. In rare cases, like in theÂ Vodafone simply, they can design a holistic user experience that can transcendsÂ to the tangible experience and better relate to their users.
ButÂ what if the company’s business is not in designing mobile devices?
WhatÂ if their business is all about intangible service? HowÂ can they differentiate themselves then?
OneÂ way they could take is to try and construct a successful relationship withÂ their customers.
ByÂ designing a service that puts the focus on its emotional, as well as on itsÂ functional aspects, companies would gain better brand recognition,Â differentiation and loyalty.
Affective service, a service that addresses the customer’s emotional needs as well as theÂ functional needs, views both the customer and the company as elements of aÂ system which the product and the price are only parts of. Affective serviceÂ also addresses other touch points that customers interacts with, like the billÂ statement or the sales rep, as points that impact the way that customersÂ 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 itÂ aims, much like in real relationships, to sustain constant line ofÂ communication between the different stakeholders of the system. This allowsÂ early detection of friction points during the time the service isÂ provided, not only after customers decided to leave. This can be done byÂ creating touch points that periodically give companies feedback on the customerÂ satisfaction level, and give customers information about opportunities theyÂ could benefit from.
Affective service looks at the way the needs of the stakeholders are met. GettingÂ paid for a service (company’s need) is a legitimate request. The way that it isÂ carried out can make or brake relationships.
Affective service offers the best service but also something more. Looking at theÂ functional side is important but it is not the only thing. Beyond functionalityÂ comes the way that the service makes customers feel.
Affective service is proactive. It takes the initiative and offers customers real valueÂ that extends beyond the product’s scope. Reward programs, like the one thatÂ Mark Curtis wrote of, are one example for a proactive initiative that enforcesÂ this relationship. As companies know more of their customers’ preferences theyÂ could design these initiatives that meet different types of users.
Affective service looks at customers as beneficial members of the system. It involvesÂ users in the service design and looks for ways that improves users’ interactionÂ and feelings about the service.
DesigningÂ affective service is a challenge but also an opportunity to create aÂ meaningful relationship with their customers.Â Â This relationship is something that companies can only benefit from andÂ customers are looking forward to.
ForÂ 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.