Facebook plays Apple in Predictive Customer Experience

At today’s F8 Developer Conference, Facebook successfully demonstrated one of the key components of remarkable customer experience. Read on.

In full disclosure, I’m not a Facebook fan boy. I more often give them a “whatever” than an “atta boy.”  I’ve had my profile there for about 5 years, I post occasionally, and I comment sporadically. Mostly for me, it’s just there. Having said that ….

Facebook just hit a grand slam.

With the introduction of Timeline and the new Open Graph Apps they have just legitimized Facebook as a way to chronicle your life in a complete, “frictionless” fashion. If that was all they did, they would have hit a homerun.   From my point of view they did two much more significant things:

  • They showed the innovative spirit of a long-lasting company.
  • They gave us a awesome product we didn’t know we wanted. They predicted a need.

The former indicates that they will be around long-term. A much needed reassurance if I’m going to let them help me write my life story. The ability for a massive industry leader with 800 millions users to stay on the cutting edge of it’s own market is the most important key to it’s long term success. They won’t be going the way of Palm, Blackberry, MySpace, or AOL. At least not anytime soon.

The latter is where they played an Apple. They met a need we did’t know we had. Apple has done this over and over. Each new device meets a new need and/or creates a new market. Without the iPad, there IS no tablet market. They’re not listening to their customers. They’d be way behind the curve if they did. They are predicting their customer’s needs, and providing the solution before the need become apparent. Apple, and now Facebook, is doing this on a grand, product-wide scale, but it doesn’t have to be so grand to have remarkable effects. Oftentimes, it’s the little things that can make a big difference.

Having your people, product, processes, and policies customer-focused is the cake of customer experience strategy. Need prediction is at the frosting.  It’s what gets people’s attention,and gets them talking.  Meeting a need your customer didn’t know they had shows them that you are genuinely interested in helping them.  You’ve got to have the substance, or the frosting is meaningless.  The cake will bring you loyalty, but the frosting gets people talking. If you want to stand above your crowded market, predict your customer’s need and create a point within their experience to meet that need.

Don’t just build a better mousetrap, send ’em the cheese.

Now what do you have to add?

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