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Don't Invest Too Early In The "Wow Factor"

Originally Published: June 15, 2004

Which of these is a better experience?

In a restaurant:

  1. When you walk into the restaurant, the hostess welcomes you warmly and takes you to your table. The interior decoration and overall ambience are attractive and comfortable; the food is delicious.

    Or, at a different restaurant...

  2. The restaurant is called "The Jungle Experience." Upon entering, the hostess asks you how many are in your "safari." As you sit at your table, a fine mist of water sprays from a sprinkler hidden in the plastic foliage surrounding the dining area. The menu items are all named after rare tropical animals. You have the simulated experience of dining in a jungle, although the food isn't very good.

On an e-commerce website:

  1. You're able to access the product you want in a few seconds, thanks to prominent links with obvious titles. The search function brings back accurate and helpful results. The simple product page makes it easy to compare different products, and then it's easy to choose a product and check out. Overall, the experience is quick and easy.

    Or, at a different website...

  2. You're impressed by the attractive logo and the colorful appearance of the page. It looks similar to the colors and graphics in the TV commercials for the company's products. There are lots and lots of features available on every page. Everything has a very professional appearance. Overall, you get the strong impression that the company spent a lot of money on the website. Unfortunately, it's hard to find the product you want.

In each case, did you choose 1 or 2 as the better experience?

  • In case 1, the company focuses on meeting the customer's needs at each moment.

  • In case 2, the company creates an "experience" with a "wow factor" in an effort to impress the customer. The customer isn't central to the experience, except as a consumer waiting to be entertained. The focus here is visual flashiness and gratuitous technology.

Which method does your company pursue more often?

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