Anticipation is magic (in product experience)

What can I getcha?

I had dinner the other night at Anchor and Hope in San Francisco. I was meeting an old friend who I had not seen since his battle with cancer and his significant other who I had never met. It was very important to get a great meal and to be able to talk through the last two years of his life.

The waitress did a fantastic job. She, made great recommendations for appetizers, entrees and desert, helped us choose a fantastic wine and brought the check. At the same time, she managed to disappear into the fabric of the evening by anticipating our needs and making it unnecessary for us to interrupt our thoughts or conversation to ask for anything.

Her ability to anticipate was the magic and it was the difference between good food and a great experience.

In the small part of the conversation that we spent on my work, I mentioned one of our portfolio companies, Swipely. I described the service and my friend said he would love to try it. That night I went into my account to invite him and remembered that I had promised an invite to someone else as well.

I sent both invites out and watched a good product become a great experience because of anticipation.

The first invite I sent resulted in a “thank you”  for inviting someone new to Swipely. The second invite returned a different message. Because in the time it took for me to follow through on my promised invite, this person had gotten an account from someone else.

The obvious endpoint of this user experience path would be a message letting me know the person is already a member. A slightly better endpoint would be a page that allows me to see their profile. Swipely has taken this a step further and anticipated that if I want to invite someone to the service, I am likely interested in following their swipes. Rather than ask, they anticipate and return a message letting me know the person I wanted to invite is already a member and that I am now following them.

With this simple change, a good product experience is made great. By anticipating my needs, Swipely showed me the magic.

If you have other examples of products/services that anticipate your needs, let me know in the comments or @message me on twitter @phineasb