Earlier this month, with much fanfare, Facebook launched a line of smart, camera-compatible sunglasses in partnership with eyewear maker Ray-Ban. Both companies, however, could judge the outlook for the product through the wrong lens.
Branded as Ray-Ban “Stories”, the glasses sport a 5 megapixel camera (capable of taking photos and videos) as well as speakers (for streaming music from a paired smartphone. ) and a microphone (for taking calls and recording audio).
Companies have touted the excellent customer experience afforded by the glasses, claiming that they offer “an authentic way to capture photos and videos, share your adventures, and listen to music or take phone calls – so so you can stay present with your friends, family and the world around you. No more fumbling around with your phone to take a picture or even answer a call; all of this can be done by tapping the frame of your sunglasses.
But here’s the interesting wrinkle in the customer experience about these glasses (and other wearable devices like them): The experience that matters is not just that of the eyeglass wearer, but those around them.
If you meet someone on the street wearing these Facebook / Ray-Ban sunglasses, how comfortable will you feel interacting with them? Will you trust that you are not checked in surreptitiously? Sure, the glasses have a little LED light that turns on when recording, but there’s no doubt someone will find an easy way to turn it off (even if it’s just a matter of physically concealing the LED indicator).
That’s it – people’s experience in front of the glasses – this could be the biggest obstacle to widespread adoption, creating barriers to acceptance comparable to those encountered by Google Glass. (Yes, Facebook’s Ray-Bans look less silly than Google Glass – but that’s just an improvement on the of the carrier experience, which is only part of the equation.)
Companies often get it wrong because they neglect to appreciate the wide range of interaction points that make up their customer experience. (This is one of the fundamental concepts described in my new book, FROM PRINTED TO OBSESSIONNED: 12 principles to turn customers and employees into lifelong fans.)
Brand impressions are forged not only by service interactions and mobile apps, but also by often overlooked ‘overlooked’ touchpoints – from sales propositions and product packaging to billing statements and surveys. client. Every point of interaction live, print and digital plays a role in the customer experience, and so they all deserve to be designed intentionally – leaving nothing to chance.
Camera-enabled smart glasses require the expansion of this customer experience design philosophy to a whole new level – because a significant part of the product experience has nothing to do with the user of the camera. product, and everything to do with the people around it.
If individuals feel intimidated or defensive when they find themselves in front of (or even near) someone wearing Ray-Ban Stories, this will pose a problem for the brand. And that’s an issue that will weigh heavily against all of the product’s other first-gen weaknesses ($ 299 in sunglasses that aren’t even waterproof?).
As if those individual sensitivities weren’t tough enough for the stories, the product will surely amplify public concerns about our transformation into a surveillance society. Instead of just worrying about the security cameras perched on every rooftop, we’ll wonder if every pair of Wayfarer sunglasses is recording our words and actions. It is certainly not clear that the company is ready for such oversight, creating even stronger headwinds for the product.
If there’s one thing Facebook and Ray-Ban’s smart glasses have highlighted, it’s the importance of looking at the customer experience of all dimensions and perspectives. Because when companies don’t demonstrate this level of rigor, they’re destined to create a vision of the customer experience that others will find it hard to see.
Jon Picoult’s new book, FROM PRINTED TO OBSESSED: 12 Principles to Turn Customers and Employees into Lifelong Fans, will be published by McGraw-Hill in October 2021. here for pre-order updates, as well as getting Jon’s monthly customer experience and leadership email newsletter straight to your inbox.