Doing the job
There is a need to combine experience and function into a consumer model and I believe there is a strong use for it in health care to achieve member engagement. An idea came to me after I read about the work of Clayton Christensen and a fellow researcher. It was an article on Milkshake Marketing from Harvard Business School published in 2011. Clayton’s claim is 95% of new products fail and companies need to look at products in the way that customers do, or how a product “gets the job done.” Jobs have functional, emotional, and social dimensions.
I was fascinated by this article and followed the role of a milkshake in the eyes of a consumer. The goal was to increase the sales of milkshakes. The study found that consumers bought the most milkshakes in the morning and for common reason. Consumers faced a long commute and needed something to make their commute more interesting. They were not hungry but would be by 10:00 am. The milkshake was thick so sucking through a straw gave them something to do. They were in business clothes and the milkshake was less likely to get their clothes dirty than a donut or bagel would … it was contained enjoyment.
Traditional marketing says to segment the market by demographics and product. Clayton’s argument was to segment according to jobs-to-be-done. Focusing on the job, they found that by increasing the thickness and adding chunks of fruit, they enhanced the job-to-be-done and sales increased. They also had another version, a treat for children with a thinner consistency so parents would not have to wait for them to finish it. This shows two jobs that needed to be done. Now add experience.
I noticed a correlation between a product’s job and the overall experience the person has with it. It seems more than just user experience (usability), but also involves the journey or customer experience of the event before use, during use and after use. I observed that products that were lean on features but robust on the experience were more likely to be adopted and succeed. The concept of consumers choosing packaging over content has been around for a while. We choose a laundry detergent because our family used it when growing up (brand) or the color of the package is striking (packaging). Not many people actually read and understand the chemistry of the ingredients (content). Maybe we are seeing a shift in consumer behavior and the new form of “packaging” is the experience. Personally, I sacrifice features to remove the hassles of product selection, purchase and use. To me, experience became the product differentiator if nothing more than to avoid adding frustration to my busy lifestyle. If a vendor has a useful product with a great experience, then I do not mind waiting on lines to get it either. Even the wait can turn into an interesting experience if we design the experience well.
The figure below shows a model for connecting the experience and functionality with consumer relationships.
Legend: Blue – product type, Red – consumer feeling, Green – consumer mode
We can use the engagement diagram to review three scenarios relating to the job-to-be-done and the customer experience.
Scenario 1 – High excitement and limited use
Product type Fad
Consumer feeling Excited
Consumer mode Courtship
A useful product that offers a great experience in purchasing and using it may show strong user adoption. The excitement may not be sustained over time as users realize the “fun” is gone and the usability of the product has waned. Remember the fads of yesteryear. Clothing can fit into the category of a fad. Articles of clothing that have lost their excitement include bleached jeans, penny loafers, and tie dye shirts. They were still functional, but a shift in the experience occurred. Experience can impact the functionality as well. If a style no longer creates a good feeling while wearing it, the clothing no longer “performs its job” to make the person feel good and it will be discarded for another piece of clothing. In this mode, you create a short-term relationship and the product seems more like a fad with a short product life cycle.
Scenario 2 – High use and limited experience
Product type Commodity
Consumer feeling Bored
Consumer mode Acceptance
A product such as phone service or cable TV from a cable provider that does just an OK job and provides a poor customer experience may not have a foundation for a relationship to develop. Forrester reports the customer index for cable TV providers is in the poor range. From a consumer perspective, most will put up with the cable TV provider and accept what they are given, but will jump to another provider at an opportunity if the product stops performing or if they are fed up with their experience. This industry has retention issues, which could be even more severe, were there more vendors offering services. The barrier to switching to another provider is low.
Scenario 3 – High use and high experience
Product type Valued
Consumer feeling Satisfied
Consumer mode Engagement
A service with great products and a satisfying experience, such as Amazon.com, provides a foundation on which to build a relationship … even online. Amazon ripped business away from brick and mortar stores and offers excellent customer service throughout a user’s shopping experience. They offer reviews of products, updates on orders, and an evolving shipping status in real time. The experience supports two tenants of consumerism … it is convenient and fast. Facebook is another example of a product that does the job without getting overly complicated and offers a good experience. Users of Facebook are truly engaged and we see this in how much time is spent on it. It has integrated into the user’s lifestyle … a powerful combination.
How do you think this concept applies to healthcare?