Intuitive Technology – Applying handbag logic to platforms

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MON, 21 JUL 2014

As the competitiveness of the platform market intensifies, many platforms are finding their niche, such as being the retirement wealth planning platform, offering a fixed fee proposition, or targeting their proposition at DIY investors. There is, however, a great deal of convergence and price can tell you a lot about the space each platform sees as theirs to dominate.

There is convergence in digital and online capability, too. If you look at the online tools each platform offers, you’ll find a great deal of similarity, give or take a few features that separate that platform’s proposition from their peers and offers their client segment greater value. In reality, if a platform was to develop a new online tool that gave it favour with users more broadly in the market, it would promptly be replicated and parity would be restored.

We need to move beyond what the product is and think instead in terms of the client’s affection for our brand being won or lost on the quality of their experience. Think about cars, automotive history is littered with high end vehicles that looked great and had, by all logic, the finest parts (tools) but never captured the public’s imagination because they didn’t drive well. The car was good; the experience was bad.

So what is the right customer experience? Well it’s not the reality of high end cars or buying a handbag.

I recently paid not an insignificant sum of money for a bag online. It was a gift so when it arrived in a tatty hexagonal prism box (thank you Maths GCSE!) I was not impressed. A prompt photo and email to the company which sold the bag and a mildly apologetic response later and I was still miffed. Not least because the ‘apology’ devolved responsibility to the delivery company and tried to assert that because the bag itself was fine I had no grounds for complaint. True, the bag inside wasn’t damaged, however the same couldn’t be said for my experience of dealing with the company. The packaging was what I remembered of my experience as their customer, for which the quality of the product itself could not compensate. That bag highlighted for me the importance of connecting the value chain and ensuring the user experience is consistent from an end-to-end perspective, irrespective of what’s being bought.

So, the bag looked good and it had high end parts – but it didn’t drive very well at all.

Any opinions given are those of the individual writing this blog and not necessarily those of James Hay Partnership

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