7 types of endings experienced by consumers.
Ends happen. They will happen to your product, service or digital product. Knowing the characteristics of these endings is helpful for understanding your business, your consumers, their needs and delivering a better quality product.
Building and designing for this will help soften the blow of a hard ending. It will improve communication, create a more collaborative off-boarding experience and be conducted under far greater control.
Broadly, there are 7 types of endings that consumers experience. Each of these have distinct characteristics. Sometimes a consumer could experience two or even three different endings at the same time, but usually a dominate one will define the situation.
1. Time Out
A product that is delivered over a fixed period of time - 3 year education course, 2 week holiday, 12 month magazine subscription. Once that period has expired so has the service.
For physical products this could be a sell-by-date, or a warranty period. And for digital products a 1 year subscription to a computer application, or a 24 hour rented film.
2. Credit Out / Exhaustion
Services that draw on a numeric value over time until that value is exhausted. This is usually communicated in a local currency - Dollars, Pounds, Euros, for example, but can also be valued in a sudo currency like points or credits, that have been created by the provider - points on your driving licence (UK), 3 strikes law in the (US), Air Miles, etc.
For products, we can see examples in things like batteries being discharged, food being consumed, and tyres being run bald.
In digital we can see examples of storage being filled up, or in games where a currency has been consumed - gems in Clash of Clans for example.
3. Task Event Completion
A previously defined event, offered by the provider (flight to Paris), or a task agreed between the consumer and the provider (fix my tap). Once this event has taken place to the satisfaction of both parties the service is over.
Applying this to products - a disposable coffee cup has a single purpose, once completed the task has been achieved. Despite the obvious environmental problems with that, the consumer experiences the end.
In digital, games provide an example, as the end of normal usage where a task (complete this game) is fulfilled.
4. Broken / Withdrawal
An unplanned, and often uncomfortable separation between the provider and the consumer. A previous agreement has broken down. This can quickly become a legal matter. Both provider and consumer resorting to detailed expectations of the relationship that potentially were not clear at the beginning of the relationship.
In recent years the T&Cs of digital services have exampled an unwieldily explosion in this type of ending. Where consumers have signed up un-knowingly for situations beyond what they understood at the time. Recent changes in European law with GDPR have put new expectations on providers around this.
In a product sense we experience items becoming broken unexpectedly through poor manufacture or through exceeding the expectations of normal usage. Common examples could be burning through a pan in the kitchen, or finding a newly purchased item is broken.
Some services become so background in our lives that we forget we are even involved with them. These lingering services can still be capturing data from us while we go about our lives unaware of their presence. Maybe they still draw a small amount from our bank accounts after we have forgotten the relationship existed. Pensions have a long winded relationship that is forgotten for many years, laying dormant.
Product relationships that were once exciting and used constantly, can change as our needs change. Gradually over time items might end up being forgotten as they lack relevance in our lives.
We can see this in cloths that we forgot we had at the back of the cupboard. It can be triggered through demographic changes - where something was relevant to us while we were in a different situation. For example a toy that was loved left at the back of the cupboard while a child grows up and pursues older interests.
In digital we see this example through social media when we quickly forget about last months pictures from a party or a flippant comment we sent in anger. Yet these linger, saved forever unless actively deleted and dealt with.
When the experience has ended due to the location being hidden or removed. A good example is when a person has moved away outside of the distribution of a service coverage. A common experience for people moving from one country to another and being unable to take their bank account and other services.
In a product sense consumers might see this with physical items. Experiencing particular foods in one country, which are unavailable in another.
In digital consumers experience a proximity type ending when they move from one digital platform to another platform. Apple to Android for example, Apps and data that was once available and have now been moved out of reach.
Consumers experience stylistic endings of their products, services, or digital products when they perceived it as out of fashion. This could be a service that previously considered acceptable, but now feels wrong due to social perceptions or a particular look or feel.
It could be a product that has a physical style or colour palette which has become less attractive.
In a digital sense this can be closely aligned with the perception of technical features, where a once trending feature, now seems superficial or embarrassing.