Aesthetic Intelligence and Customer Engagement
I read an article about ‘aesthetic intelligence’ some time back. Heaven knows what I was searching for when I found it, but it made some good points about success in business by drawing on the artistic process and related principles.
As a music fan since I was a very young kid, I’ve always been interested in the back-story to record production. When it comes to the music I follow most passionately, there’s no end to the lengths I’ll go to uncover the origins of a song (usually a tinny-sounding demo) when a glimpse of something interesting to the composer starts that magical journey towards creating something capable of moving people.
It’s also true that sometimes a bare, stripped-down song can be way more powerful to the listener than a more produced piece of work. But it’s special to be in on the journey from conception via realisation to the moment where the design of the song and its performance synthesise into something impactful.
At this point the reader expects me to continue with a boringly predictable phrase like ‘and so it is with customer engagement’. So I won’t let you down.
And so it is with customer engagement.
There’s a point in every successful customer relationship where what you might describe as a platonic relationship evolves into something more wholehearted and authentic.
Most usually the result of an intrinsic or unexpressed need being directly and imaginatively met by the service provider (often a well handled problem or complaint), this is the ‘magic moment’ upon which rewarding customer relationships thrive. This is the point at which the mundane crystallises into a cherished relationship
But in the journey from our ‘analogue’ lives of the past – characterised by close human contact – to the digital lives we now lead, I think something of this ‘magic’ has been lost in the mindless pursuit of expediency, streamlining and short term-ism. In fact, if my recent experiences are anything to go by, it’s clear that the role of service design has somehow been relegated to ‘background noise’ when it needs to be in the front of the mix.
‘Every organisation is perfectly designed to achieve its result’ a colleague once told me. Although such a twee ‘management consultancy’ utterance probably deserved a punch in the head first, over time I realised just how right he was.
It’s not just about getting your processes right, but the emotional impact of your service offering needs to resonate too. Much is made of organisational values and the need to recruit the right people, as it’s more likely they’ll instinctively perform at a level that creates customer engagement. But who’s collecting these magic moments and weaving them into the company’s service design so that they happen consistently? Not everything has to be an unexpected cameo.
Some songs, like Squeeze’s wonderful ‘Up the Junction’ pack such a punch, they don’t even need a chorus, but most organisations out there will soon be discovering that their songs are far less effective without a chorus and a middle eight.