detail on top of a coffee
Micro experiences give brands an opportunity to speed up the path between idea and delivery PHOTO: Waranya Mooldee

Think back to a cherished memory. What do you remember? 

If you’re like most people, your mind jumps to a moment: blowing out your birthday candles, saying goodbye to an old friend, the first kiss of a new romance.

What about when you think about a brand you love? 

You probably don’t picture a floating logo. Again, our minds go back to moments: giddily unboxing the latest gadget, taking a bite of your favorite comfort food, the unexpected compliment you got on the new jacket you bought.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments,” wrote Italian poet Cesare Pavese. It’s how our mind works, and it’s why engaging your customers with digital micro experiences can have such a profound effect on brand loyalty.

What exactly is a micro experience? Picture this: you’re traveling from Seattle to Fukuoka, Japan when you happen to visit a Starbucks. You walk through the door, the barista glances at his watch, greets you by name and offers to make your favorite drink (a tall vanilla latte). How would that make you feel? 

That’s a micro experience. The barista’s smartwatch sends him an alert that you’ve arrived, along with your name and favorite drink. For you as a customer, it’s these magical moments that can make or break a purchase.

Micro Experiences Across Industries

With today’s rapidly advancing technology and widely available data, it’s easier than ever to create memorable micro experiences in virtually any industry. Let’s look at a few examples:

Consider the case of an outdoor equipment provider with one of the biggest direct marketing operations in America. Print material is great, but how can you connect that to a digital experience? Now customers can open an app, snap a picture of a product they like, and instantly find reviews and nearby retailers.

Say you manage a bank that caters to high net-worth individuals. When one of your preferred customers enters the bank, you could receive a notification to step out of your office and greet them personally — bolstering their brand loyalty.

Pretend you’ve just landed at an airport in Amsterdam, and you’ve got an hour until your connecting flight. What if the moment you touched down, your phone told you what gate you should walk to and the status of your next flight — then gave you directions and a drink suggestion for the airport lounge?

Micro experiences aren’t limited to customers. You can also create operational efficiencies by providing your employees better user experiences.

For example, a popular beverage company has regional sales managers visit local stores to gather details on stock inventory. In the past, this was a time-consuming task, with sales managers standing in the aisle to carefully note shelf space and stock replenishment.

Today, managers can simply snap a picture of a shelf on their smartphones and upload it to an image analytics solution that does the rest. Thanks to this convenient micro experience, sales managers are significantly more efficient.

Speed the Time Frame Between Inception and Launch  

When your company is considering adopting new technology, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or spend years deliberating new digital strategies. 

The beauty of micro experiences is that while they might involve apps, wearables, the Internet of Things, social media, cloud computing, automated algorithms and more, they don’t have to be complicated.

In my experience, companies should start small and build from the ground up. This way, you don’t get lost in fuzzy questions and huge debates — you can focus on specific details in context instead. Over time, these concrete micro experiences will naturally contribute to and drive your overarching digital strategy.

One common misconception is that digital experiences take months and years to develop. In reality, it can be done in weeks. 

Begin by outlining your customer journeys and identifying moments of truth — those experiential inflection points where a customer wants some information and getting it could make or break their decision.

Then, brainstorm potential digital interventions, a.k.a. micro experiences. By starting on a small scale and taking advantage of existing technologies, developing several micro experiences can take as few as four to six weeks.

The speed helps when trying to sell higher ups on a micro experience initiative. Often, there will only be one or two people championing the cause who need to get the executives on board. Instead of trying to just talk about what it would mean, developing a micro experience in weeks means you can show them something tactile and tangible.

Embrace the 'Art of the Possible'

A single moment can make all the difference in the mind of a customer. Fortunately, developing creative, surprising and delightful micro experiences doesn’t need to be a pipe dream anymore. I firmly believe in “the art of the possible” — and it’s an ethos that more business leaders will need to adopt if they are to thrive in today’s digital world.