My wife and I have been going to the same dentist for years and we are not planning on changing this any time soon. Normally people hate going to the dentist. Me? I don't mind it too much. Not because I'm a hero, but because we like our dentist. She's great! For example, yesterday morning I had an appointment. She knew my daughter's name and that this week was our daughters first week at day care and therefore I was on paternity leave. "How is Emily's first week going? You enjoying some time off? How's Adva handling it?". This is my dentist I'm talking about, not a friend or family member. My dentist.
She has a relatively small office which is always busy, but we always get a chance to chat before or after the appointment. It's never an awkward time filler or some sort of small talk crap. No, we actually have a nice conversation. Heck a while ago my wife came to pick me up from her office so we could go have lunch after my appointment, and decided to bring Emily to see her. No silly, not for a check up, just so they could meet.
Of course she's a great dentist too, she treats our teeth well and always catches things before they become serious (like root canals etc). But that's not why we keep on coming back to her. After all, this is New York, there are a ton of amazing dentists in this city. We keep on returning to our dentist because she's an amazing person too. It's that blend we are looking for, great practitioner and great human being, and it's that blend that keeps us coming back.
Even on the rare occasion when she makes a mistake, its not the end of the world, because we see her as a human first and a dentist after. There is a personal connection, that supersedes our dentist/patient relationship.
Twisting this story to fit my agenda, it is a great reminder that the products I create should follow the same basic principles: they should always strive to establish that personal connection between the service and the user, perhaps (and dare I say) even superseding its utilitarian usefulness.
Don't get me wrong, the product should get the job done well, efficiently and save the user valuable time or even add great value to the users life. But is that enough? Soon, the utilitarian efficiency of a product will not be the reason users come back (if that isn't the case already). Perhaps the reason users stick around is the same reason we keep going back to our dentist. It's the personal relationship that trumps. If the web is indeed a customer service medium, I'd say the best customer service is an honest and friendly face.
Does this mean that the products I work on need to appear to its users as a friend first and a utilitarian solution after? Perhaps. God knows how I'll do that, but I'm gonna try.
So, when I'm asked "where do you get my inspiration from?", well here you go, my dentist.
Written in New York. © 2013