Every Negative Moment In An Experience Is An Opportunity

At STORYLINE, we evangelize the value of identifying negative moments in the customer experience because each one is an opportunity to elevate a product or service from good to great.

Let's take a look at a matrix we employ to empower our clients to take action on these moments. If you’re familiar with Diana LaSalle and Terry A. Britton's fantastic book Priceless, what you’re seeing in this post is our adaptation of their Experience Event Matrix. We've tweaked the original matrix and how we use it, grounding it in the needs of our clients who require specific direction to drive development of new products and services.

First, let’s briefly touch on the layout of the matrix. As we map a given experience with qualitative insight from customers, we first project the positive moments above and negatives below. Any moments that customers perceive to be neither positive nor negative we place in neutral territory. Then from left to right, we rank the level of impact of each moment through the customer lens from the expected to the unexpected. The further to the right we go, the closer we get to truly memorable moments; be they positive or (gasp!) negative.

As we plot these moments into the matrix, we also assign each of them a numerical value from 1-3, respectively as you move left to right. If it’s positive, it receives a (+) value, and if negative it receives a (-) value. Total up all the moments and we get a net value. As you can see in the example above, the net value is in the negative. While this may seem to be an experience everyone would want to avoid, we pulled it from an actual engagement we had with a progressive veterinary hospital and the moments are quite typical for emergency cases. The surprising reality we've uncovered through this way of thinking is customers are surrounded by these net-negative experiences, and have come to accept many of them as the status quo.

The value of identifying negative moments in particular in this fashion is it gives developers clarity when looking to establish priorities for their roadmap. They can see what they're up against. All that remains is taking action on the negative side of the landscape, moment by moment.

Here's the point we evangelize with our clients the most: every negative moment in an experience is an opportunity to reposition it on the matrix; either by flipping it into the positive, neutralizing it or diluting its negative impact. In this way, we make the evaluation actionable. This is key for our audience because simply evaluating the experience is not enough; developers need specific direction and with this approach we are effectively constructing a 'to-do list' of moments that are primed for ideation.

As you can see in the example above, we've also illustrated how the veterinary hospital is generating solutions that reposition a number of key moments in the experience. The net result is they have identified how to shift from a net-negative experience to a positive one, which will significantly differentiate their emergency services from regional competitors.

Negative moments can actually become springboards to opportunities to make your product or service experience more relevant and impactful with customers; and therefore more differentiated in the marketplace. Get to know your customers on a richer level, identify what you're up against and get control of your experiences, one moment at a time.