One helpful way to identify the problem points of any experience is to create a journey map (sometimes called an empathy map). The x-axis is time, the y-axis is 'delight' or simply emotional state. It can be helpful to break the total experience into just 5-6 key moments. When a "low" point is identified, a new journey map should be made to focus on 5-6 key moments in that originally single point. By mining down, you can get clarity and common understanding on what is negatively impacting a larger experience. Then you can start ideating on ways to address it.
I read what my oft-collaborator, Stephen J. Valentine who blogs at Refreshing Wednesday, wrote today about convergence. He suggested an exercise which I put into practice. Instead of thinking of my organization, I thought about communication and productivity platforms used in one of my graduate school courses. Over the years my co-teacher and I have tried a bunch of different things. Some have stuck around, others have not. My listing certain ones as being on 'life support' does not mean I do not believe in their value, it simply means that today (January 2019) it takes significant energy in order to help them be valuable within this particular context.
I started doing some analysis on multiple years of personal technical support requests I have made to the various providers that Explain Everything uses over the past year. That data and analysis will be shared soon. In particular, I was looking to see if there were any patterns across the types of requests and type of responses provided. Variables that influence the patterns include: incident type, date request made, date request closed, addressable by user, addressable only by provider, message included image, message included GIF/Video, message included link to article, message included attached document, and so on.
As I was doing this, I stumbled across one frustrating example which also served as a reminder that there is still an open loop that hasn’t been closed by the provider.
Provider 1: An Email was sent to the billing email to mention that we were still getting charged (to the credit card on file) for a service that was supposed to have been canceled 3 months prior. There are days between responses and often a response only after I send a follow up. I ended up Cc-ing their support team so that it could also be logged as a ticket. Almost a month later still no resolution despite my providing a paper trail on the dialogue that confirms that this was meant to be canceled. The other part is as a user of this service, we have no means to turn off the service ourselves.
Provider 2: A similar thing - a reduced rate for a service had been negotiated, which was mediated by waiving the second of two milestone-related payments. When the second milestone hit, we were issued an invoice and an automatic charge to the card on file. I sent a request to the contact and the support team, along with the paper trail, and within 24 hours the issue was investigated by the support team and accompanied by an acknowledgement of the error and an apology (albeit a few days later) from our account rep.
In both cases, there are system-side automated elements that end up preventing a human being from always being able to ensure that what they intended is actually executed. The human part comes in when the issue is noticed and immediately - and authentically - addressed.
I recently met author and podcaster Greg Voisen who spends a lot of time thinking and leading around creative and visual consulting. It was suggested to me to check out his podcast episode 407 where he speaks with author and visual consultant David Sibbet.
What I really appreciated from this conversation was the reminder of the importance of mental models. As a teacher (or seller or leader or service person), when you help your audience construct mental models - with literal or associative elements. If you listen - David suggests what a "spark" can mean to people based on their past experiences and interests.
When visualizing an experience - a talk, a meeting, a sales call, etc. - there is tremendous opportunity to reinforce those mental models. There are rabbit holes of ideas and information on both Greg and David's websites.
Sometimes, and even after multiple iterations, good work needs to be left behind in order to serve the greater objective. The doodles and text below are versions of things that were liked but simply did not help enough.
"Asked directly about what he does when he needs a breakthrough, designer and typographer Stefan Sagmeister said, 'One trick I use a lot is to think about a problem from a totally different point of view. . . . I used this technique for the identity we did for a music center in Portugal — Casa da Musica. [The approach and design] came out of the point of view of a car' (Glei, 2013).
Sagmeister traces this thinking tool to the philosopher Edward de Bono, who suggested it as a way to override the brain’s penchant for repetition. Says Sagmeister, 'If you want to come up with a new idea, the first thing you can always do is think of something that you did before or something that you’ve seen before. So starting with someone, or somewhere, else is just basically a trick to fool the brain out of thinking in repetition' (Glei, 2013)."