About 28 years ago, (yes, I AM that old!!) there was this movie called "Wild in the Streets" which was about a rock star named Max Frost and his band the Troopers. It starred Christopher Jones, Shelly Winters, Hal Holbrook, and others and was a tale about how a rock star under 35 manages to manipulate his way through 'groovy young folks' by doing these dramatic, pyrotechnic, emotionally manipulative rock concerts where he railed against the old people (over 35). He then gets elected President of the U.S. and puts anyone over 35 in concentration camps where they are fed LSD all day and are kept "happy." Actually, a hit song "Shape of Things to Come" came from that actually climbing to #22 on the Billboard charts in 1968.
When you watched this movie, you thought - Leni Riefenstal and the Nazi "Nuremburg Rallies"
Before I get into why this has ANYTHING to do with CRM and the customer experience, one weird aside. I was watching TV the other day and I saw this commercial for Target and the THEME SONG was "Shape of Things to Come." Just totally bizarre as you'll see in not too long.
Green Day's "Shape of Things to Come?"
First a preface. I LOVE Green Day. They are one of my favorite groups (though not in the top 9 as you saw the other day). I think they are fantastic.
Because I do, I went out and bought their new CD/DVD combo album "Bullet in A Bible" and of course watched them do their thing on the DVD during their June 2005 two-night run at Milton Keynes National Bowl in England. It was amazing, but the first thing I thought of while watching them sing "American Idiot" was "Max Frost and The Troopers" and "Shape of Things to Come" (not related to the Target commercial). Their use of pyrotechnics, heart stopping chords to end a song so that the emotions you feel are raw and oceanic. Explosions, fire, and their rabble rousing attacks on the "rednecks across the pond" and their announcement that the UK was going to be their new home, ad infinitum.Then, I thought, uh, oh, I'm now over 35!!"
It got me to thinking because I just witnessed masterful crowd manipulation at its "finest." I didn't mind. I said I loved Green Day and while I knew they were manipulating the crowd, I knew I was watching a show, not a Nazi rally. But it made me think about the "customer experience" and how much is manipulation and how much should be evocation.
Manipulation v. Evocation: Round 1
One of the cardinal rules of mapping the customer experience is to ask questions that trigger an answer, not guide the customer to an answer. But how thin is the red line here (did it again. ANOTHER movie reference) between a truly successful "evocation" of the emotions mixed with the interaction or a manipulation? If you're designing the customer experience - how much of that is manipulation? Probably all of it, really...or not? I'm not sure which is why I'm putting this out here.
Manipulation v. Evocation: Round 2Ultimately, it seems that the difference is who controls the experience. If I am in control of my own experience than what the business does is evoke a response to some event or interaction. If I'm not and thus am led to the response, then it is manipulation. While this might seem to be an abstract philosophical issue, it is actually not that. It is a profoundly affecting business issue.
Manipulation v. Evocation: Round 3Let's make it personal. Would you rather be told what to do without a choice or manuevered into doing something that you didn't want to OR would you rather do something that you wanted to do or made a choice about how you did something? In fact, lets drill down more.
Manipulation v. Evocation: Round 5
Ever been manipulated into doing something unwittingly and then figured it out? How does that make you feel, sucker?
Manipulation v. Evocation: Round 6
Look at the S/M/A International Design Group's mission statement:
We achieve our targeted goals by using the appropriate traffic patterns, manipulation of attention; our store design styles and our merchandising techniques, manipulation of the mind; and most importantly, our lighting design techniques, manipulation of the eyes, among others. We believe that, a carefully planned and executed store design with a focus on the above, can and does make a difference between a successful retail store and a mediocre one!This company won the DDI (Display & Design Ideas Magazine) award for "Top Retail Design Firm" for 2003, 2004, 2005. So a company that believes in the conscious manipulation of the mind, attention and the eyes, wins design awards year in and year out.
Manipulation v. Evocation: Round 7
Is there a moral and ethical issue here? Or is it a business design issue? For example, everyone lauds Disney for their remarkable efforts at creating a customer experience designed to...what? Evoke a "wow!" or manipulate an emotional response? I love Mickey and Donald and Goofy and Pluto and Minnie and Daisy and Dumbo and Kirk Russell but does it make me buy Disney stuff? If I was younger, sure it would. Is that a bad thing? Not really. They have a business reason for creating the experience and that is to get me to repeatedly purchase their goods and services and to convince my friends to do likewise. That's why businesses look at the idea of a customer experience in the first place.
Manipulation v. Evocation: Round 8
One of my clients (my favorite actually) is David's Bridal. They did a customer mapping session which was exceptionally powerful and intelligent and in the interviews were very careful not to manipulate/guide the answers of the customers they interviewed but instead evoked a response that was fresh, honest and ultimately quite powerful in knowing how the customer really thought. Great job. Best I ever saw actually. Now, here's the question? If they alter/redesign the customer's experience based on their results are they manipulating or simply making things better or both? All customer experience design is manipulative to a large degree. The issue is how much control you give the customer in determining what they do to personalize that experience based on your new design, isn't it?
Manipulation v. Evocation: Round 9
Or is it?
Manipulation v. Evocation: Final Round
You tell me. Is this manipulation a bad thing? An immoral or unethical one? A neutral thing? A good thing? What's the difference between manipulation and evocation in an environment that calls for improving the customer experience? Is it how much control the customer has over his/her actions? I haven't solved this which is why I'm bringing this up and yet it seems to make a difference in how you both design the experience and how you think about the business. So BIG PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUE and TOUGH BUSINESS ISSUE. Abstract but has concrete implications. And I don't know the answer yet. Help me out here with your thinking.
The purse for the fight's best punch from you? A $25.00 Amazon gift certificate.