The concept of delighting customers is certainly not a new one. However, the way one goes about doing so can be noteworthy. The manner in which Amazon chose to delight me, and presumably many others deserves mention. In early December, my wife ordered a Kindle wireless reading device from Amazon as a holiday gift for me. Like tens of thousands of other gift buyers, she was informed that it wasn’t very likely that the Kindle would ship in 2008. As a result, I got a picture of a Kindle inside a card. Frankly, I was ecstatic, and settled in for what I knew would be a long wait, convinced that the Kindle would be well worth it. It looked like March delivery was the best I could hope for. Lo and behold, last week I read about the introduction of Kindle 2, the new and improved next generation model. Assuming the worst, I scanned the Amazon site for a number to call and protest having to wait months to receive a Kindle that would be obsolete before I turned it on. Before I found the number, I found this brief passage on the Kindle 2 page:

If you have previously placed an order for Kindle 1, and have not yet received it, your order will automatically be upgraded to Kindle 2. You need to do nothing.

Perfect. No call to make, blood pressure returned quickly to normal. I was delighted: this was better than getting upgraded by an airline. Amazon managed to surprise and delight me, despite a three month order backlog and a technology change. Not an easy task, and they did it without hoopla or hype. They simply did the right thing. I wonder how many Kindle 1 parts and finished inventory got tossed aside in the process. I assume it was not a decision without hard cost. But it was the right one. Kudos, Amazon. Doing the right thing is never a bad decision.

Cheers also to blogger Adrian Cotterill of The Daily DOOH. In a post yesterday, Adrian took on an immensely misguided guest article on screen layouts posted on the site of the Digital Signage Expo. In his customary direct manner and with detailed explanation, Adrian scolded the author for presuming a multi-zone screen as a default, when content strategy and objectives should clearly drive both technology and the layout, given that layout is in fact just an implementation of technology to support objectives. Adrian aptly points out that the default screen layout is and always has been full screen. We have long been supporters of keeping screen layouts simple, and our own plans to expand multi-zone support have more to do with the ancillary benefits of doing so than with a desire to enable busier screens. More on that in a future post. Let me give a personal example that supports the argument for simplicity.

I work out (less often than I should) on an elliptical machine in my garage. I have a TV set up out there, and my habit is to watch ESPN’s SportsCenter while I put in my miles. The SportsCenter program is framed on the right by a sidebar that vertically scrolls through the upcoming story headlines, and a bottom ticker that continuously scrolls sports news horizontally. What I have realized is this: I never watch the anchors at the desk when the camera is on them. Instead, I read the ticker. I will watch the main window when a highlight of interest is playing, and will occasionally scan the sidebar to see if a NASCAR story is on the horizon, which generally requires a channel change.

The takeaway here is that providing multiple options for viewer attention forces a choice and sub-optimizes the impact of each option. You do not have to be a behavioral scientist to figure that out, and it may be something to consider for those who believe that more is better, or that they can “monetize” three or more zones at once. Start with an objective, and then delight your customers in achieving it.