It’s that time of year again. We gather with friends and family, we reminisce, we let ourselves be “kids, from one to ninety-two.” It’s that time of year when we go see the new Star Wars movie. At seven movies and counting, Star Wars has truly become a phenomenon, and the excitement is impossible to ignore. So, if we’re bringing Star Wars with us to the office anyways, what can it teach us about CX design strategy?
1. Making the customer the hero isn’t enough.
“Make the customer the hero (not your product)” has been touted by savvy marketers for years. We all get that. It’s time to realize that the bar is now set much higher than that. You need to figure out what kinds of heroes your customers want to be—making the customer the hero isn’t enough.
What do I mean by “what kind of hero?” Looking at Star Wars (the original trilogy), we can all agree that Luke Skywalker is the protagonist. But beyond just Luke, any character fighting against The Dark Side is a hero in his or her own right. From Han Solo to C-3PO, these characters have different personalities so vivid that we can make sense of (and even predict) their actions throughout the plot of each film. If Han versus C-3PO were your customers, you would need to appeal to them in different ways—you’d need to enable their heroism differently because the nature of that heroism is different.
If Han versus C-3PO were your customers, you would need to appeal to them in different ways…
2. Design for someone, not everyone.
Once you’ve figured out what kind of heroes your customers want to be, it’s time to make some hard choices. Designing for everyone or “the average” creates a mediocre customer experience at best and, at worst, it satisfies no one. To create a CX that not only satisfies but also surprises and delights, you need to tailor it to your customers’ specific traits. You need to design for Luke or Han or C-3PO. You need to design for someone, not everyone.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “you can’t be all things to all people”—Star Wars is a great example of it. In 1977, upon its release, the inaugural Episode IV got quite a few scathing reviews. And, George Lucas was turned down by many studios when he pitched the film. Even Disney rejected the project. You’re not going to please everyone at first, but they may come around eventually. If Lucas had tried to please everyone, toning down the wookiees, droids, space battles and lightsabers to make it feel a little less “crazy,” Star Wars wouldn’t be the wild success it is today.
3. The goal is not to persuade rationally. It’s to connect emotionally.
So, you’ve figured out who you’re designing for (knowing what kind of hero they want to be) and are ready to convince them to buy your product. Stop. The goal of a CX design strategy is not to persuade rationally, it’s to connect emotionally. Experiences are not a set of data points that we line up and analyze using some set algorithm to spit out a decision. Experiences are things that we live. Experiences are things that we feel. While customers appreciate being provided with information to feed rational-thinking as well, the goal of CX should be to connect emotionally.
Consider diehard Star Wars fans: adults dressing up in costumes to attend conventions or opening night. The costumes are not required for attendance. But, the costumes affect the experience, connecting those fans to something larger and to each other. In some ways the convention or opening night serves as the rational justification or excuse for dressing up, which fans are doing of their own accord in pursuit of a richer experience.
Experiences are things that we live. Experiences are things that we feel.
4. Your product is part of the experience, but it’s not the experience.
Delivering a customer experience requires more than dressing up your product and re-labelling it an “experience.” It requires more than putting lipstick on an intergalactic pig. CX design strategy should take on a broader, holistic view: your product is part of the experience, but it’s not the experience.
For example, let’s look at the Star Wars movie experience. The experience is more than moving pictures on a screen—that’s the product. The experience is the gestalt. It’s the anticipation, the purchase of tickets, the car-ride to and from with friends. It’s the tweets and Facebook posts and coffee conversations. It’s waiting in line and finding your seats. It’s the laughter at Chewy and that feeling of exhilaration when Luke turns off the instruments in his X-Wing and destroys the Death Star. And it’s the conversations you’re still having about it a week later. None of that would exist without the movie, but the movie is only part of the experience.
5. The “end” is not the end.
As convenient as it would be to wrap up a project and have checked the box on CX design strategy, great customer experience demands an ongoing effort. There is no big red “pause” button that you can press to keep your customers from changing, hungering for something different or something more. The “end” is not the end.
Did you know that George Lucas experienced a similar fallacy? Back in the ’70s, he thought Episode IV would be the only Star Wars movie. Lucas made subtle changes to the script in an attempt to make it more satisfying as a stand-alone film. With all the difficulties of getting this first “radical” film made, Lucas wasn’t expecting a trilogy. And as we all know, not only did it become a trilogy, but 38 years later we have film number seven: The Force Awakens.
Lucas thought Episode IV would be the only Star Wars movie…38 years later we have film number seven.