Do you make your customers use on-off switches?

Micah Solomon Keynote speech (video)

The customer experience is the new marketing.  Which means that how you design every aspect of your service or product experience is what matters most–not the words you tack on afterwards.

Apple vs. Bose

Let’s look at a tiny part of the customer experience: on/off switches. Like many frequent travelers, I rely on Bose noise-cancelling headphones.  But there’s a problem.  I go through many, many batteries.

Because I forget to turn off the headphones.

My fault, I know.  But so what? I’m the customer, so I blame Bose.

Not really because of any failing of Bose’s, but because of the genius of Apple.  Let me explain: Starting with the first iPod,  Steve Jobs insisted that portable Apple devices no longer have on-off switches.  His engineers thought he was whacked. But they managed to design the iPod so that it timed out after a bit of inactivity, with no input from the user.

Result:  no dead batteries.

This is a small, yet shining example of what I call “anticipatory customer service,” in this case embodied in the thinking that went into product design. Apple is essentially shouldering the customer’s burden.  Becoming part of the customer’s brain.

Which is where, as a business, you want to be.  Indispensable.  And making the competition look clunky.