Walking down a country path, you smile and offer a greeting as you pass a stranger. He smiles back and returns the greeting. A connection is made and you both walk on feeling happier.
It’s well recognised that smiles translate into sales. A study by Piotr Winkielman of the University of California San Diego and Kent C. Berridge of the University of Michigan found that people who were exposed to a smile rather than a frown, even subconsciously, said they would be willing to pay twice as much for a drink.
But few digital experiences seem to smile at me, making me smile. I think that’s a pity.
I can see why smiling is forgotten:
It often starts with the objective: the single-minded objective does not address the detail of the relationship. Yet strong relationships are built on customer journeys that address multiple tactical touchpoints and objectives acting together.
Then the team’s working environment rarely inspires a smile.
The team of writers, designers and UX experts sit down to create a digital experience. They sit drinking too much coffee in a windowless room. They sit too close to the screen. They argue with the IT team about what is possible. The obsession is with technology and elegance; the language becomes marketing-speak.
In that mood on the country path, they would probably jostle the stranger out of the way.
It doesn’t take much to achieve a smile. It just takes the team to step back, to think about the customer’s journey, and to identify the right moment.
And for that to happen, they probably need to be smiling too.