The key to building a successful startup company is implementing a strategy that has the customer at its very core. The cliche you’re looking for is customer-centric (or outside-in, which sounds much better than bottom-up).
An outside-in approach takes the perspective of the customer, figuring out exactly what they want, how they want it, and by then creating a customer ‘journey’ that’s easy to use. We talk about it a lot on BankNXT, because many fintech startups use an outside-in approach. So, why should I bring up Apple Music?
Apple is rightly regarded as an innovator of our generation. It’s a company often applauded for creating products that put the end-user at the heart of everything. Apple Music, on the other hand, is a slight aberration on the generally clean Apple copybook, and offers a good example of how an outside-in approach should work (because in this case, it doesn’t).
Breaking up is hard to do (but I’ll do it if I have to)
Apple Music, much like many traditional banks, uses a top-down (or inside-out) approach to how it presents music. The playlists are excellent, and there’s an algorithm at work (along with people-curated selections) that work better for me as a music lover than any other streaming service I’ve used. The blindspot is where Apple usually fails, and that’s in understanding what people will actually want to do with the software.
For instance, I’d like to see what my friends are listening to, in the same way that I’d like to be able to add my friends and family to an address book in my current account. Each time I need to transfer money to my friend’s account, I want to be able to see their face (because there’s a thumbnail of them that I’ve been allowed to add) and make the transfer quickly and easily without having to re-enter their details. I also want to be able to do this with energy companies, and water companies, and other banks. And I don’t want to be charged extra for doing this.
I also like to listen to my music offline when there’s no Wi-Fi around, or when I want to protect my data plan. The offline option in Apple Music is a context menu away, and is clunky and awful. Also, it doesn’t work for me. The download wheels just keep on spinning. I have similar experiences with my bank in terms of terrible navigation and little reward at the end of it. Want to find details about travel insurance? That’s at least three clicks away, and seemingly on a completely different website. How do I check my savings balance? On a PDF, of course, by finding the right page, entering a range of dates and then downloading it.
I wonder, is Apple becoming an ‘incumbent’ technology company, that has the capital to acquire smaller companies at the expense of coming up with the innovation itself? Is it still playing catch-up when it comes to social engagement and user experience? Is it taking my money without rewarding me for my years of loyalty with products that make my life better? I hope not. I’m an Apple fanboy, but my head will overrule my heart if the user experience becomes unstable, or starts acting like my bank.
Image: AJ Montpetit, StockSnap