03 September 2015

Growing Relationships by Understanding Values

The office ecosystem is an unusual place. The building where I have my office is large by any standards. There are roughly 100 different companies with more than 500 actual people working for them.

You could assume that an environment like this would adopt all the benefits of a co-working space, but not everyone is onboard. Agencies often complain that they are not comfortable having their clients so close to their competitors. Instead, I believe they should focus on the value they get from having great relationships with these other companies.

Values drive relationships

You see, relationships have their foundation in values. It’s about what you bring and what you expect. All relationships are different from each other, but they all depend on expected values to be healthy. For instance:

MY DOG brings me happiness, daily exercise, and a feeling of responsibility and caring. In return, she gets exercise, food, shelter, and – most importantly – love in return.

Happy dog, happy life

MY CLIENTS get an agency-like quality delivery without the bureaucracy. They’ll get it on-time and hassle free. In return, I get long-term engagements and clients that adapt to my way of working.

FACEBOOK brings me updates from close and not-so-close ones that simply wasn’t possible in the past. It’s a great experience and although there are things that could improve, the positives outweigh the negatives. The value it brings me in my daily life verify it’s worth. In return, I bring Facebook content and engagement. It might seem trivial, but it’s not trivial for Facebook.

Stable relationships thrive on balanced values. Each one of the examples above are different in the values the given/received, but without them they are bound to end.

What values do you bring?

Think about it, what do you bring to your relationships? What values do you bring to that relationship with your significant other, customers, or services? What do you expect from them? And does it really matter? If you are unsure of what value you bring, you may have trouble maintaining that relationship. Someone may end up feeling deserted.

What does this have to do with user experience?

People don’t understand what a user experience designer does. When they ask, I tell them that I help companies align their product’s value with the expectations of their users. Maybe they’re not utilizing their values to get the best results. You certainly don’t want your users to expect too much and end up disappointed. Even giving them more than they expected can leave them feeling overwhelmed. This is why aligning values and expectations is so important. It’s the first step to building long term relationships with your customers.

So, either you’re providing value or you’re not – are you ready to find out?