The Quest for the Better Me: Helping You Be, Do, Feel, and Look Better

The first breath. The first step. The first word. The first kiss. The first child. The first million. Life is comprised of a number of significant firsts.

Each and every one of these firsts happens because of our constant strive toward improvement. As human beings we are on a never-ending quest to become The Better Me—a better version of ourselves, be it big or small.

No (sane) person wakes up in the morning thinking, “Today, I want to be a poorer version of myself than I was yesterday!” From a baby’s first steps, to learning in school, competing in sports, climbing the career ladder, and improving that golf handicap, it is hardwired into us as human beings that we aspire to improve. In all aspects of life, we are extremely motivated, consciously or unconsciously, to become better versions of ourselves. To become The Better Me. This quest is what companies need to support if they want to stay relevant.

The answer lies in taking an unapologetic customer perspective. In the future, when everyone is leveraging technology, the main differentiator for businesses will be how they design their experiences to win the hearts and minds of the customers to ultimately deserve their time, attention, and money. The future of business success revolves around the customer and how you can guide them to become a better version of themselves. This applies whether you work for a billion dollar company or a small startup

Luckily there are ways to do that—four to be exact; The Fundamental 4s.

The Fundamental 4s

We have been observing, following, talking to, and analyzing thousands of customers in the past decade. This work has enabled us to develop a sense-making tool that is designed to support companies in making the right business decisions by honoring their customers’ deepest motivations. We call this model The Fundamental 4s (see Figure 1):

  • Fundamental because the motivations are basic for all customers
  • 4 because there are four of them
  • 4s (pronounced force) because the motivations are forces that drive customers towards action on their quest towards becoming The Better Me
Visualization of the model: BE better: intrinsic and proactive; DO better: extrinsic and proactive; FEEL better: intrinsic and reactive; LOOK better: extrinsic and reactive.

Figure 1. The Fundamental 4s model helps customers be, do, feel, and look better

The model starts from customers’ primary motivations: to be, do, feel, and look better (see Figure 2.)

  • Be better is about honoring the customer’s values and moral landscapes, helping them become a better person.
  • Do better is about enhancing the customer’s performance, skills, competencies and results, helping them become more successful and capable.
  • Feel better is about triggering your customer’s senses, leaving them in a better emotional state.
  • Look better is about improving their social status, creating appreciation and recognition.
BE better: “I’m a good person!” DO better: “I enhance my performance!” FEEL better: “I feel good!” LOOK better: “I improve my social status!”

Figure 2. Personal goals in the Fundamental 4s

We have looked into companies that have put their customers’ motivations first. Here is how they designed offerings that make their customers be, do, feel, and look better.

Be Better

Customers want to #BEbetter. Honor their values & moral landscape so they feel like a better person. #Fundamental4s #CX

Figure 3. Be better

When you enable your customers to be better, you honor their personal values and moral landscape. In other words, you help them do what they believe is the right thing and make them feel like a better person. Part of helping your customers be better is figuring out what is important to them and then catering your offering to resonate with those values.

Be My Eyes: An app to help people BE better

Be My Eyes is a brilliant app that helps you “micro-volunteer” your time to help blind and visually impaired people. It’s very simple. Let’s say someone wants to add milk to his coffee. He needs to know if the milk left in the fridge is good or expired, but he doesn’t have a sighted person close by to read the label for him. So, he picks up his phone and makes a request for assistance through the Be My Eyes app. Somewhere in the world, a volunteer receives a notification and a live video connection is established. The volunteer is then quickly able to help the blind user determine if the milk should or shouldn’t be used.

People instantly loved the app and it went viral without spending a dime on promotion. Be My Eyes quickly grew to be the largest community for blind and visually impaired people all over the world with more than 375,000 volunteers on the platform.

What’s really remarkable with Be My Eyes is that their biggest “problem” is that they don’t have enough blind and visually impaired people for their volunteers to serve. So many people have signed up with the desire to help because the app taps into their moral landscape and values of being a good person. Many volunteers also share their experiences of calls on social media, describing the connection as “life-changing” and “fulfilling.” Imagine if your company was getting that kind of response!

There are several important lessons to be learned from be better companies. The first is that they differentiate themselves from the competition by aligning their goals with their customers’ motivations to be better.

The next lesson learned is that by helping customers be better, companies save big on their marketing budget. Helping your customers feel good about themselves is enough to get them talking. Be better apps like Be My Eyes have a contagious word of mouth. The Be My Eyes experience did the marketing and people started sharing their stories on social media, helping to further convert the crowd into community.

Do Better

Customers want to #DObetter. Make them more successful and capable by enhancing their performance, skills, competencies & results. #Fundamental4s #CX

Figure 4. Do better

Making your customers do better is about enhancing their performance, skills, competencies, and results. It means helping them become bigger, better, faster, and stronger as the song pretty much goes on.

MobilePay: The DO better app that won half the Danish population

In May 2013 Danske Bank, the largest bank in Denmark, launched a new app called MobilePay, a free, easy-to-use mobile payments app that allows Danes to send and receive money via iOS, Windows, or Android devices in just a few seconds by only selecting the mobile number of the person they want to send the money to.

It was an instant, runaway success. On the first day, 25,000 people downloaded the app with an average of 2,500 new users joining every day thereafter. Today, MobilePay is the third most frequently used app in Denmark, second only to Facebook and Facebook Messenger. What’s most astounding about MobilePay is that 70% of the users are not Danske Bank customers. The bank tried to reach out to a much broader audience, allowing anybody in Denmark with a bank account to download and use the app. MobilePay enables any Dane to do better, no matter which bank they belong to.

What lessons can we learn from MobilePay’s huge success in Denmark? First is that convenience is a powerful tool to make customers do better. Everyonecraves convenience because it saves us time, and time is our most important currency. After all, “time is money,” right?

Secondly, you should never, ever let your internal processes get in the way of making your customers do better. MobilePay helps retain customers and increase brand awareness. With more than 2.8 million Danes using the app, the brand value is constantly rising while reinforcing the customers’ perception of Danske Bank as a do better company that helps them with their financial transactions.

FEEL Better

Customers want to #FEELbetter. Trigger their senses & emotions to leave them in a better emotional state. #Fundamental4s #CX

Figure 5. Feel better

Do you know that each time you visit a nice smelling store you are likely to spend 20% more money and buy more items? This is because the aromas trigger your senses and emotions, putting you in a better emotional state. You don’t even realize it, but when you feel better, you also feel like buying more. Feel better is indeed a very powerful motivation that drives customers in their purchasing decisions and perception of a brand.

Nike: How to boost a business by appealing to the customers’ senses

Nike was one of the first companies to use new sensory tools like smell to engage its customers. An interesting experiment shows how making a customer feel better can significantly increase sales. Nike put two identical running shoes in two separate rooms. The two rooms were physically identical, but one was infused with a floral scent. The test subjects in both rooms were asked to inspect the shoes and then fill in a questionnaire.

Guess what? Consumers preferred the “scented” shoes by a margin of 84% and the price they were willing to pay was estimated on average to be $10.33 higher than the shoes placed in the unscented room.

What can your company learn from Nike’s experiment on how to make customers feel better during their shopping experience? The first is to try and explore new ways to make them feel better by engaging them emotionally. Even if you can’t follow Nike’s example and add the “right smell” to your shop, there are many other ways to make your customers feel better. Start by removing bad designs that annoy your customers and make their experience worse with a stressful interaction. Bad design, noisy spaces, annoying jingles, too much waiting in line, and rude or careless staff are just a few common culprits. Feel better is a powerful motivator and there is a lot of potential out there to up the game.

Then start thinking about how you can add a new dimension to your offering or enhance what you already have. Find ways to make the experience more engaging, fun, and exciting through gamification, play, humor, or competitions. Create a more aesthetic experience like Apple and their unboxing experience. Or make it personal by customizing everything from the first encounter. Find out what will positively trigger your customers’ senses and emotions and they’ll reward you with their time, attention, and money.

LOOK Better

Customers want to #LOOKbetter. Improve their social status creating appreciation and recognition #Fundamental4s #CX

Figure 6. Look better

How do you make your customers look better? What actions do you take to improve their social status so that they look better in the eyes of their peers? Most companies don’t think about this when building their customer or product strategy, but it is one of the most powerful tools a company can use to create loyalty.

Opower: Save energy to improve your social status

A great example of a company that does this is Opower, a cloud-based platform that uses big data and behavioral science to reduce energy consumption.

Opower tells their customers not only how much energy they are consuming, but also how much their neighbors are consuming, putting them into a friendly competition with each other. This has proven to be a highly effective way for people to save energy. In 2013, Opower prompted customers to save enough energy to power every home in Saint Louis and Salt Lake City combined for more than a year. This is not only an irresistible win for sustainability, but also for the customer’s wallet. It also has the effect of making them feel like they’re part of a community. By making and comparing neighbors’ energy consumption, Opower brings neighbors closer together. Customers of Opower feel like part of a group and are therefore motivated to lookbetter in order to appeal to their network of authority (that is, the people that matter the most to them).

Opower also uses gamification to make energy more fun and engaging (that’s feel better). Customers receive smiley faces and rewards points for every achievement they make so they can measure their popularity while improving their social status. This is a fun and easy way to engage people on the platform that reinforces the competition aspect and provides an opportunity to look better.

The Fundamental 4s model can be used to analyze your current offering, or as a development tool to explore how you can extend the customer value. Maybe you currently only make your customers feel and do better and have untapped value in also making them be and look better.

All things being equal, the more of the fundamental motivations you honor and the deeper you deliver on each motivation, the better. If you can make your customers both be, do, feel, and look better you will have a very strong position. This is what some of the best brands in the world are able to do. The better you can help your customers become better versions of themselves, the more positive impact you will have, and the more likely you are to be rewarded with your customers’ attention, time, and money—and that’s what we all want, isn’t it?

Pawlak, L., Østergaard, K. (2016). The Quest for the Better Me: Helping You Be, Do, Feel, and Look Better. User Experience Magazine, 16(4).
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