May 15, 2010

Sequence of an Experience: has recently updated some of its features one of which really caught my eye:

As the video explains, this "heat map" tracks the popularity of small segments within each show.  The video shows the heat map against an episode of Fox's Glee.  With a closer look, there are three times that the popularity increases.  The highest point of popularity is the first of the three and the last high spot is very near the end of the episode. The sequence of popularity shown in this one episode by the heat map follows closely to some service design theory, psychology and behavioral economics research, as well as my own dissertation research; mainly that the sequence of the popularity (or utility, pleasure, pain, etc) in an experience significantly impacts customer experience.  We can illustrate four guiding principles of experience sequencing  from the heat map in this one episode:
  1.  Peak Effects  -  we cannot remember everything that happens to us, so we rely instead on remembering the high and low points.  An experience without a high point may not be an experience at all.
  2. End Effects - we tend to remember how things end better than in any other point in an experience.  Fortunately for this episode, the end was also a high point.
  3. Trend Effects - an experience that continually improves feels better than one the starts great but just gets worse.
  4. Spread Effects - we prefer to experience several high point spread out over time as opposed to all at once, so if there are several high points, we might do well to spread them out across the experience. 

I could go on for quite a while on this topic (it is my dissertation topic) so I was excited to see it in action.  This is a relatively untested area in service/experience design, but the idea is that in considering the flow of an experience, sequences patterns that follow the four principles above should improve customer experience.  

If you would like to read an academic article that I wrote you can see it here.  We find evidence that the four sequence effects impacts repurchases of performing arts season subscription sales.  I also suggest reading Chase and Dasu 2001 "Want to perfect your company's service? Use behavioral science" a Harvard Business Review article in which the ideas of sequence are introduced in service design.

On a final not (plea), if you know of anyone who knows someone who works at, please connect me.  I have some ideas about what their data can do to firm up and expand theory on this subject.

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