A few years ago Google identified the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) – the moment someone decides they want something. The ZMOT is also the moment many of us begin to search online whether via Google, our social connections, or specific websites such as Amazon to find whatever it is we want. Forget your profession for a moment and think about your experience as a person.
What kind of emotions would these scenarios or micro-moments have on you? What might you need, how might you search for a solution and how quickly would you move from one possible source to another?
- It’s the middle of the night and you can’t get your first born 8 week old back to sleep. You’ve tried everything you normally do and you’re desperate to soothe your baby and for all to get back to sleep.
- You popped a key on your laptop and you can’t get to stay in place, and you’re not looking for an excuse to rush out and invest in a new laptop.
- Your toilet in your new home is clogged, you have no idea where the plunger is and most stores are already closed. (By the way there are some really surprising DIY videos on YouTube!)
- You’ve got an important presentation later and you just nicked your chin shaving and you never do that! It won’t stop bleeding!
Armed with our mobile devices almost 24/7 we have a tendency to look for information with immediacy; we want the information now and we’re often prepared to complete a transaction. We expect to find information quickly in the moment, whether via a search engine or once on a site. When we’re unsure we look for more information and/or the opinions of others. We’re more easily influenced down paths with less friction. In fact we’re becoming increasingly unforgiving; any friction can cause us not just to abandon a site but to abandon it forever. Think about the impact micro-moments have on relationships!
But how easy do you make it for people to find solutions in these micro-moments? We know that in micro-moments even if your brand is top-of-mind, people might enter your brand plus other keywords in a search engine or they may go to your site directly. How easy is it to find specific information in that moment when someone is looking for something specific? When they arrive will you display the information in the right context? Can the mom rocking her baby navigate with one hand or do you expect her to balance her smartphone and pinch? Do your videos auto-play maybe creating unwanted noise? Will it load quickly? Will they be able to find related information? How many steps will it take to complete a transaction or contact you? Will they be able to easy rate or share their experience? If the customer contacts you how long will it take you to identify the existing relationship/history? Will that history include social media interactions or for that matter, interactions from all touch points?
We need Human-centered experience architecture
In his new book X: The Experience Where Business Meets Design (page 10), Brian Solis defines Human-centered experience architecture as, “the sum of all customer engagements in each touch-point and every moment of truth throughout the customer lifecycle.” And when we think about how we develop sites and how we look at the Customer Life Cycle (CLC), often they’re designed based on the preferences, opinions and with the belief that the customer journey is a linear series of steps that have a natural and repeatable flow. In many cases silos still exist which produce fractured views of people. The tension between Human-centered experience architecture and how we typically (traditionally) view buyers/customers/visitors is why we still have so many NEGATIVE or at least UNINSPIRING experiences. There’s friction everywhere.
A Real Human Experience Example
I was in a store ready to buy, but I left and bought from a human-centered experience architected site - one you know well!
The days were quickly approaching for my trip to Hong Kong to see my best friend when she asked me to purchase an item to bring with me. Never having bought something like this product, I was unsure about it when I was in-store. Once I found the product I found several items in near identical packages with significant differences in price. Even though my friend was reimbursing me I had a bit of sticker shock and I couldn’t find any information about the product. CLEARLY the manufacturer hadn't mastered understanding the customer journey! I needed to make sure this was the right product before flying 11 hours. So, I looked up the product on my mobile. Immediately I learned that ‘the’ product was actually sold in two parts. Good to know! I quickly discovered for the EXACT same products there were huge differences in prices online from many sites with some about half the price of the store I was in. I opened the Amazon app and looked at reviews of the products and of sellers. I also looked on my online supermarket app and found one product for 50% off, but the other item was out of stock. I decided to order from Amazon which conveniently showed me all the information I needed. I paid for next day delivery but the next day I found an ‘attempted delivery note’. I was furious. I had included instructions with my order and I was home! I was running out of time before my trip. I looked on Amazon’s delivery and customer service pages for contact info. I changed screens and Tweeted Amazon about my failed delivery. While waiting for a response, I found the Amazon online chat with customer service which I used to re-arrange the delivery which was made a couple of hours later. It wasn’t the perfect experience but in the end I was assured that I was buying the right products and they were delivered when I needed them. No marketing required; influence and human-centered experience architecture transformed this one experience into a 2nd purchase and more product reviews. It turned out the product was perfect for me!
Remember the physical store I was in? It didn’t give me enough information or confidence to make the first purchase. And the brand of product I was buying? I had visited their website multiple times over the last year, the product was relevant to me, but until my friend mentioned it, I knew nothing about it.
The lesson? If you don't understand what people need in micro-moments the experince you design won't be effective. But don't worry if your competitors understand micro-moments the people will still find what they need, just not from you.
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