The Science (and Art!) of Delighting People: From Cafe Perks to Multifamily Products
Defining delight is the easy part. But, inspiring delight? That’s part science, part art. Here’s how it’s done and why it’s so worthwhile.
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First off, why build delightful software? Part of the reason I take on the challenge is that you can immediately sense the delight when someone looks down at their phone and they really get it! That’s a wonderful feeling to inspire in people. Also, I’ve always loved animations. When they’re done well, they take away the need for documentation altogether. I always wanted to be part of that approach, presenting information so seamlessly.
As HappyCo’s CTO, I’m lucky to bring this all together: leading teams that build visually-appealing solutions — ones that get people feeling confident and, ultimately, Make Happiness (one of HappyCo’s core values). In the multifamily space, after all, there’s plenty of opportunity for delightful software! With people’s safety and shelter on the line, it’s unfortunate that software has been so cumbersome — and so often at odds with our mobile world.
Yet, it’s also easy to take intuitive software for granted when all goes right. So, now that I’ve shared my own personal “why,” I’m excited to break down the science (and art!) of creating delightful products. Here it goes…
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Put simply, delight is unexpected additional value, the feeling you get when the end result of a trade exceeds the expectation. That additional value can be added through two levers — reduced investment or increased gross value. As you can see from the graphs below, there’s always a “honeymoon phase” wherein customers become so excited about a product, their expectations reach a fever pitch (before they come crashing down!). While savvy companies can turn the tables, many flounder under such high stakes.
Of course, it’s best to start from the beginning. Coffee shops are a great stage to show how this works. Imagine:
* You go to a cafe, order a coffee, and get a free cookie (unexpectedly). That joyful feeling as you walk away from the counter with cookie in hand (additional value): delight!
* You go to the coffee shop and order a coffee and the server let’s you know it’s Mad Monday and coffees are half price. That pleasant surprise when you get additional value? Delight.
As this Forbes piece illustrates, providing value in its own right is no longer good enough. Growth advisor Sweta Patel stresses, “the next step is to take that validation and hyper-personalize it. This means tailoring your service to your customers. If a customer has a thing for white chocolate, send them white chocolate on their birthday.”
That might seem a little… intimate. But the delight equation really does get interesting, as value comes in many forms. Take these coffee shop experiences, for example:
* The server knows your name, showing he/she cares enough to remember and use it: unexpected value, a.k.a delight.
* The server tells a great joke and you let out a chuckle: delight.
It gets weirder, though. If I’m able to share the additional value, it gets amplified. If instead of half price, my coffee comes with a free second cup (one for my spouse!), that win enhances the delight I feel. In extreme cases, moments of delight can spur life-long memories — and even media appearances. A recent Capital One example takes the cake. A customer named Christina got dumped by her boyfriend and had no choice but to move out and buy new furniture. Though Christina’s card was declined, a Capital One employee “commiserated with the situation, comped Christina miles so she could go on vacation and forget about her ex, and even sent flowers.” (Needless to say, an exchange this heartfelt was destined to earn coverage on The Ellen Show).
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Of course, such above-and-beyond service would be unfeasible on a grand scale. But switching to a tech perspective, you’ll find there are a host of ways products can delight people. Among the ways to add return:
* Intuitive UX
* Surprisingly pretty UI design (not an expectation with Enterprise software)
* Fast setup and training
* A fun but unobtrusive animation or an inspirational quote
* A thank-you card or swag
As multifamily executives know well, enterprise software meant to improve operations can sometimes derail them altogether. The likely culprit? Faulty design. When UX is intuitive, things sit where you expect them. That provides delight because you don’t have to read documentation or waste cognitive effort. On the UX front, I’ve learned quite a bit from my HappyCo co-founder and friend, Jindou Lee. With an extensive background in video game design, he’s a firm believer that enterprise users have much in common with avid gamers.
In Jindou’s words, “if you imagine the user as a player who has limited resources — limited time, attention, energy and mental focus to expend on your product – then you do your best to make software as simple and efficient as possible.” But, there’s something much less quantifiable to consider: “the traditionally less-attended-to aspects of people’s lives — their feelings, motivations, and values.”
In the world of HappyCo, that means infusing products with our core values. Unexpectedly pretty UI design isn’t a maybe — it’s a must. As Jindou puts it, our core value of Make Happiness “drives us to change people’s relationship to work from one of simply obligatory labor to one of ease, pleasure, and dare I say, fun.”
Fast setup is also an area where software companies have a chance to shine. The beauty of intuitive UX is that the training phase becomes a breeze. Multifamily executives have reason to fear cumbersome software that makes users feel inadequate. But a switch to mobile inspections doesn’t have to be menacing! Given Happy Inspector’s welcoming interface, regional managers at Maxus properties found a 45-minute webinar was just right to get everybody on the same page. Zach Moreland, a Property Manager at Maxus’ Park Edge Apartments, breaks down why it was all so seamless for his team:
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"Once we got it going, to actually show my leasing staff and maintenance guys how to use it, it was literally you open the app, click some buttons and follow the steps — it’s really easy."
Property Manager, Park Edge Apartments
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Delightful design that boosts your bottom line: Happy Inspector.
Real-time property inspections never looked better! From customizable forms to compliance and costing features, Happy Inspector is a straight shot to accurate data and reliable budgets. Learn more today.