One of the most common mistakes businesses make is having the assumption that we live in a world of complete objectivity. In doing so, many businesses fail to tend to the power of intentionally making things beautiful for their customers. Here are two examples of beauty’s role in customer experience:
On a busy Saturday afternoon, a girl makes her way over to a local coffee shop. After ordering and receiving her latte, she walks over to her table, places her coffee down on the table, then stands up over the table and begins to take some photos.
As the manager walks by and sees this he stops her. “Hold on!” he exclaims, “The foam on there doesn’t look good. Let me make you another one.” While the girl tells him it’s alright and not to worry about it, he insists and brings over another latte, this time with perfect foam art on top and assures her that this one is free. With a newly made latte, that’s seemingly made to perfection, the girl bashfully smiles and can now go about taking her photo to share on Instagram.
In another coffee shop, she orders a latte, but the foam on top is flat with no design. Obviously not impressed, but not necessarily disappointed either, she continues on with her latte and has no need to photograph it. The barista here doesn’t like to latte art. He thinks that it takes away from the quality of the latte and that foam art is more about glitter than substance.
There’s a very distinct difference between these two experiences. And before going any further, I’d like to note that these are both actual, real life experiences. They happened right here in Savannah, Georgia.
In the first experience, the manager saw an opportunity. We like beautiful things, we like to have our own aesthetic and taste, and with this we like to identify with our tastes by sharing it with the others. By taking a photo of her latte, the art on top, the coffee itself, and the coffee shop all become a reflection of her. By making a more beautiful and perfected latte, the girl feels a sense of importance and in turn can feel that beauty is a reflection of herself.
Furthermore, this is a memorable experience. When you engage with empathetic and friendly people that can make you smile and blush, you’re going to want to come back. You’re even going to want to share that experience with other people. By focusing on creating such a memorable experience through the beauty of your service, you build reputation. Considering this experience is so positive, I’ll share that this happened at The Collins Quarter.
With the second experience on the other hand, the barista fails to recognize that we appreciate beauty in our lives and instead chooses the assumption that we should live bland and objective lives. When things looks beautiful, we associate better qualities with them. So by making the latte look beautiful, we’re more inclined to think it tastes better. Whether it does or doesn’t taste better isn’t necessarily the point because we aren’t sitting down with two lattes in hand comparing the quality of them. Instead, we are buying a single latte and having an individualized experience.
At The Collins Quarter, they take into consideration your wants, and they genuinely care about you as an individual. There you can have a very human experience. With the second example, the experience feels void of any emotion or care. The common mistake is thinking that the service or business is about coffee, but the reality of the situation is that it’s really about people.
What sort of individualized experiences are you creating for your customers? How are you making a human connection with them? Never underestimate the power of making things beautiful. For more reading on this, I suggest Donald A. Norman’s book, Emotional Design: Why We Love or Hate Everyday Things.