This page PROVIDES SOME EXAMPLES AND techniques to aid thinking around closure experiences. Feel free to use as you please.
I would love to hear your thoughts about them and the discussions they have raised with your clients and colleagues.
Example: Music Magpie. This product is dead. It deserves an emotional send off.
The ‘beep’, of acknowledgement from the Music Magpie App, indicates the 10 year depreciation of an £8 CD, that is now worth 64 pence. Such is the life of eroding media like CD’s. I hardly have any places now I can play a CD at home. The stereo from the kitchen is now a networked speaker, and hardly any computers in the house even have a CD slot. The only place equipped for playing a CD is the 10 year old Toyota Corolla, which I am sure will outlive many other media formats.
That said, I am massively appreciative of the task that Music Magpie fulfils. Originally taking only CD’s and DVD, they now take all sorts of digital products, from phones too game consoles.
Their App makes the task of ending your product relationship simple and convenient. A quick scan of the Bar Code of the product and their database informs you of the products monetary value. After log-in, you print out the sheet with your ID number on, pack the items in to a box, and leave it for the courier to pick up.
Your boxed items will then go to the Music Magpie depot and be checked, after which they will pay you for the agreed amount. According to the reviews on the App Store, this is the most frustrating bit, and can take up to 4 weeks. Considering how simple the App, and early service experience is, its sad to think that the later service stages are letting the rest of it down.
However, today my interest lies in improving the Music Magpie Closure Experience. On the whole it is a great service simplifying the end of numerous products. The only criticism I would make is the lack of emotion it has. When we purchase items we assume they are going to achieve something for us - a piece of music that makes us feel a certain way, some clothes we thought would make us look good. These are powerful emotional triggers. But the Music Magpie App skips over the opportunity to reflect on this emotional value. Choosing instead to revert to the simple, cold monetary value of the item. This cheapens the experience of product ownership.
There is a great opportunity here to improve the Closure Experience of these products and bring some user self-reflection about the product to the foreground. This self-reflection is something we miss at the end of many product experiences. Designing the Closure Experience more purposely can help with bringing self-reflection to the foreground. And with it an appreciation of what the product does to the person (ex:I really enjoyed that), and potentially what it means in a wider context like ,energy consumption, product miles or climate change.
I have a couple of proposals that could help here. Firstly inserting a pop-up in the user flow, just after the product is photographed and valued, that eludes to the end of the product experience (below). In the Marie Kondo process (see previous article) this would happen while the person is handling the item at which point they thank the item for ‘A job well done.’ Or in the case of music ‘thanks for bringing me such happiness…insert artist’. This punctuates the end of the product life-cycle.
The second proposal would be pushing some of the nostalgia triggers from the user. A collation of album covers, or automated mix of the music could help here. This could be a link from the message confirming payment to the user. Again the aim would be to induce subtle thoughts of self-reflection at the end of the product experience.
This might seem a bit ‘hippy’ for a hard-nosed start-up like Music Magpie, but it will will really add to the Closure Experience of the product for many people, induce emotions that led to them purchasing the product in the first place and hopefully a moment of self-reflection about wider issues of consumption.
We all too often move through our product experiences too quickly. Forgetting to assess what we have consumed. This undermines the material cost of consumption, and fuels the mindless purchasing culture we have developed. Considering the Closure Experience more in the customer life cycle can help increase emotional value in product experiences. And consequently valuing what went into making those products.
Technique: First Stage of Role Exit
This diagram reflects what people go through when considering changing their role in a variety of situations, whether this is a job, a relationship, or their gender.
Initial doubts are often ignited from organisational changes, personal burnout, a change in relationships, or the effect of some event. These doubts are then reflected to peers or friends as cuing behaviour. Indicating their doubts in the current role. These cues, being recognised by others, are then reinforced or quelled prompting a re-evaluation of the situation and a halt in the doubting process.
Once the individual has reassurance that their is strong basis in their doubts, they will expand the areas that come under scrutiny. Subsequent events will now be considered negatively as a way of reinforcing their point of view.
This will kick start the Second Stage of Role Exit (See Below) - the search for viable alternatives.
Technique: Second Stage of Role Exit
Now the individual has come to the acknowledgement (First Stage of Role Exit) that they need to change roles, they will start to actively seek alternatives.
A key part of this is measuring the Comparison Level (Thibaut and Kelly, 1959). The Comparison Level is established from previous experiences in the individuals life. These form a baseline that all subsequent experiences are judged either, above (attractive and satisfying) or below (unattractive and dissatisfying) the Comparison Level.
After assessment of these alternatives, the individual will seek reinforcement off significant others. If reinforcement is given, the individual, feeling sense of freedom and confidence, will start to shift their references and engage in role rehearsal of the potential new role.
Technique: Marie Kondo Tidying Technique
The Marie Kondo technique has been developed by the self-proclaimed declutter over years of obsessing with tidiness and consulting with clients. At the heart of the technique is the emotional engagement with items a person has hoarded over years.
When tidying, she insists on getting all items of the same category together - all clothes, all books, etc. She then asks her clients to pick up each item and question themselves “Does this bring me joy?”. If it doesn’t then it is thanked and disposed of.
Personally, I love the thanking part of this technique. We all too often treat items with little respect. This in turn cheapens the effort of creating an product. Think of the amount of elements that go into an average TV. Its a mind-boggling effort of resources and logistics. Something like that should be treated with respect.
Example: Liverpool Care Pathway.
The Liverpool Care Pathway is a process of removing drugs and procedures at the end of a patients life. Endorsed for use in hospices and more recently hospitals, it aims to make a dying persons remaining few days a more comfortable and dignified experience.
Initially welcomed by Doctors and nurses, but also family members who wanted to see a loved one without tubes or high on drugs in their final hours.
It has recently been shadowed in controversy as families have complained that they were not consulted, and that in some case it brought on death.
The Liverpool Care Pathway was a courageous initiative to create a more dignified Closure experience for the patient and family members. Although its failure is disappointing, the larger regret would be to not tackle this difficult issue and make the last moments of life more meaningful and dignified for the patient and relatives.
Example: Kia. 7 year warranty
With the introduction of the Cee’d car in 2007, Kia introduced the 7 year warranty. This was an industry leading initiative that shattered the previous norm of 3 years from competitors. Not only is the 7 year Kia warranty a confident endorsement of the companies belief in the quality of its manufacturing, testing and design, it also pushes the discussion about end of life of the product and therefore closure experinces.
Manufactures, not only of cars, have traditionally pushed a warranty as an endorsement of quality of building materials and manufacture. Announcing to a consumer that they believe this product will last for an expressed period of time before the product or a component part breaks. The warranty helps in this case as an on-boarding tool. It reassures the consumer that the purchase was a good decision.
What the Kia warranty uniquely achieves is an endorsement for the perceived lifetime of the product. In effect, they are making a statement about the closure experience of the product not just the on-boarding to the product. This provides a healthy platform for discussion when the customer wants to by a new car and the old ones needs recovering, recycling, or re-selling.
Many manufactures don’t have an open communication channel beyond the 3 years - the length of the warranty. This limits their capability at recovering a product and dismantling it for recycling.
TECHNIQUE: Transaction models
Closure Experiences are often locked to the moment of transaction in some way. The moment of transaction can reveal a great deal about the ownership of, and influence upon, the customer relationship. All of which influences how the customer feels when a service comes to an end - the closure experience.
We can break down the majority of customer engagements into 5 broad transaction types. Reflecting on the details of these raises some interesting questions, insights and opportunities.
Workshop: Transaction models swap shop
Duration: 30 mins People: Small groups 2-4
Method: Pick an established service provider or industry. Consider the current transaction model they use. Ex: Restaurant = payment after delivery Coach travel = Payment before delivery. Changing the transaction model will affect the character of the service.
With your group pick a different transaction model and apply it to your chosen service. Discuss the changes this would make.
For example... How would the relationship change between provider and user? Who is in authority? How would the service respond to disruptions? How would this impact the ending of the service?
Capture your thoughts with post-it notes.
Share your findings with the workshop attendees.
TECHNIQUE: Long term service scenarios
Life means life
Too many of our life services don’t deliver over the long term. Life is a dynamic and changing experience, yet we seem to mis-sell products and experiences far too often in the service industries. As service providers we need to become better at thinking about the long term customer engagement and embrace the changes that life throws at our customers.
A good example of this has been the changes in the pension industry. 80 years ago employee would expect to work for one employer for life and in return receive a pension. Recent data from the Department from work and Pensions estimates we will work for 11 employers in our life time - 11 different Pension Pots. Findings by Age Concern, have suggested that as many as 1 in 4 pension pots goes missing. This is pretty shocking statistic and shows the difficulties in long term service delivery.
The Long term service scenario exercise helps designers, clients and product owners think about the long term delivery of services. It highlights the changing nature of a users life and the variety of disruptions that needs to be considered.
Workshop: Long term service scenarios
Duration: 30 mins People: Pairs
Method: Get the attendees in to pairs. Distribute pens, paper, post it notes
Attendee 1. Plays the customer. Map out your perfect life from 20 - death with 3 different services (ex: mortgage, pension, phone carrier)
Attendee 2. Plays the reality. Map out all of life challenges and success. Physical Health, metal health, divorce, death of loved ones, interest rates up. Employment rates down. Recessions and depressions. Fires and subsidence, loyalty wins, tax breaks. Life is full of challenges In your pairs, you have 5 minuets to..
Attendee 1. describe your first 10 years.
Attendee 2. Describe 1 life challenge to over come.
Consider the service deliveries and changes Use post it notes to capture the issues and resolutions
Repeat to 80 or death
Share the scenario with the other workshop attendees
TECHNIQUE: Post Service Personas
The data that we use as evidence to create personas comes from market research - which often focuses on feedback from current satisfied customers and surveys from potential customers - and so we miss the insights from recently departed customers. In short, personas are always looking forward from the current to the future and by their nature they are overly positive and fanciful.
Post Service Persona
Post Service Personas consider the emotions of a user after they leave a service or product relationship. It aims to highlight the reasons for that departure and helps designers to consider and reflect on the closure experience of a service and the subsequent fall out.
Workshop: Post Service Personas
Duration: 30 mins People: Small groups 2-4
Method: Part 1. 10 mins As individuals capture 2 service experiences you have recently ended. 1 bad, 1 good Capture the stages that you went through. How did you pay? How did it close? How did you feel in the aftermath?(Hate, anguish, resentment, happiness, relief, joy, etc) What did you do about it? (Tweet, tell friends, tell the service, etc)
Part 2. 5 mins Gather in to your groups and share your thoughts and feelings with the group. Reassemble the post-it notes into groupings of the same feelings
Part 3. 5 mins From the grouped feelings start to assemble a personas feelings about a service. Name that person
Part 4. 10 mins Now build out a back story. This can be freeform or inspired from the groupings What is their life like? Why did they start the service? Why did they end the service?
These are the templates we used in the Closure Experience workshop at UCD2013.