On selling customer experiences

I was looking at how much of a dent an iPad will put in my wallet when I noticed the mandatory field reminder on Apple.com’s shopping cart. Then I came to this realization, Apple isn’t a mobile device’s company, nor a computer company, its a customer experience company. So much time is spent on just tweaking and perfecting the whole cycle. From the moment you browse their online store or their mortar-and-brick store, to the point you make your purchase, including the point when you receive your product, unwrap it – perhaps even record that joyous moment – and then finally start using it and then officially become a fan boy or girl. This happened to me in 2003/2004 when I purchased my first Mac, a PPC PowerBook G4.

Sorry, I went on a tangent there. Anyway, they are a customer experience company. The developers who built this form did not have to do it the way they did. This sick tooltip reminding you of the mandatory fields could just have been a red asterisk. However, because they are a customer experience company, they didn’t do what every average Jack and Jill developer would have. As simple a page it is – a personal info page – it most definitely went through multiple iterations before it reached its current state.
Another example, lets say you don’t look like a pirate but have a speech impediment. I’m a nice guy. If you seem like a nice person too, I’m going to do my best to understand you. However, that doesn’t apply to your website or application. Don’t make your product seem like it has a speech impediment – even if it looks great. Its just going to be awkward.
Learn from Apple guys, they don’t have to do their site the way they do, they don’t have to finnish their products the way they do, they don’t have to meticulously design the packaging inside and out. But they do. And because they do, they’re in the business of selling customer experiences. That is a very profitable business, and that is why Apple’s stock P/E is twice that of Microsoft’s.
Here’s a great TED talk on “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it”:

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