How to Craft a Happy Experience

At SXSW, Mark Wilson moderated an event called Designing Happiness, which included experts from three brands that strive to create happy experiences, “not as an afterthought, but as the first step in what they do,” Wilson writes for Fast Company.

See a few highlights below about what he learned, and then read more here:

“Happiness Is Mostly The Anticipation Of An Event and Memory Of It

“At the creative consultancy Lippincott, designers have a theory called the Happiness Halo — and it’s built upon reconstructing happiness as a three-act structure of anticipation, experience, and memory.

“First it’s about creating anticipation,” Randall Stone, director of experience innovation at Lippincott, explains. “That’s really strong — both from a psychological standpoint but also the anticipation of the experience is sometime greater [than experience]. It goes back to our primitive skills of releasing dopamine. It’s our hunting skills. If we didn’t have this sense of anticipation, we would have starved to death a long time ago.”

Anticipation is so powerful that being excited about a big event, like running a marathon, can give you as much joy as actually completing it.

Surprise Is Really The Key To Delight, And It’s Mundanely Easy To Surprise People

Much like beginnings and endings, we’re cognitively predisposed to remember surprises, too. And when you have employees primed to surprise customers, it’s far easier to pull off the feat.

“At SoulCycle, we have a program that’s actually called ‘surprise and delight’ where everyone of our managers and key holders has a budget to be able to surprise and delight our riders — whoever they want,” Gabby Etrog Cohen, senior vice president of PR and brand strategy at SoulCycle, says. “And that’s at any level. Whether that’s putting a gift in their locker, taking them out to coffee, putting a cupcake on their bike for their birthday, or if a kid just went off to college, and they send them a T-shirt . . . it can be any number of things, because relationships matter.”

Surprise is a tool that’s actually more effective at dealing with angry customers than catharsis. Complaining verbally actually makes people more upset by reinforcing their negative sentiments. But empowering an employee gives the company a chance to recover—to leave a surprisingly positive signpost in customers’ memories of an evening.”

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