I am fairly certain that we are moving toward a time where the way we interact with brands and their products and services will seem infinite.
Think about it—we used to have few choices in how we engaged with an organization. If it were a bank, say 20 years ago—you had a teller, a checking account and that was pretty much it. Then ATM's came along. And banking by phone. Then over the Web. Then more services over them Web. Then you could dabble on your account with your mobile phone. And maybe you could even comment on the Banks company blog expressing your frustrations with their new ATM interface.
When I visited Dell a few months ago—I pointed out the obvious. That they had reached a point (probably ahead of most other companies) where they had multiple community/social touch points in place—each serving up a different experience, looking different and acting differently.
I was encouraged to hear that they were already on top of this—working to resolve the issue. Now, each of their "multiple social touch points" feels like it's part of a larger family. They are connected.
But 20 years from now, will our interactions with brands, companies and their products and services seem infinite? As we seem to have more options, channels communities and choices now—will they consolidate, or continue to expand?
I believe what we're experiencing right now is the beginning. It's why the media (and social media) landscape is fragmented. But instead of consolidation, maybe—just maybe the way we interact with brands, companies and their products and services will enter a state of flow. Probably not all—but maybe some. Infinite touch points means that options may seem endless, but the ideal experiences we have don't feel overwhelming.
Who will make these infinite touch points seem manageable? It will probably take all of us. Experience Designers will play a role. As will the sophisticated consumer. Will we define a social experience or a blog response as a touch point? It's entirely possible. But maybe, just maybe—each time we have any interaction with a brand's product or service we'll create a mental note of how that experience felt. If touch points become infinite—or just seem that way, then the opportunity for deeper levels of a relationship become possible.
But only if the infinite touch points succeed in reaching that ideal "iiquid state of flow"—or at least make it feel that way to the end user, consumer or participant.