I don’t write blog posts, or even really use social media that much, but I had to record this.
Hi, I'm Paul.
Before working in tech, I was in the cut-throat world of banking, where I spent a lot of time analysing businesses in a very technical manner, with some amazingly bright and talented colleagues around me beavering away into the small hours writing credit reports. Back then, you might have heard me say, 'Why did gross margin move adversely 0.4 percentage points in March on this cohort of SKUs?’ or, ‘A 5% movement in debtor days would cost 50% of EBITDA — it’s not leverage-able’
I know, pretentious. But actually important, too; really important in fact. The numbers tend not to lie and definitely deserve a focus.
But they aren’t the whole story.
This week, we’ve been launching huggg, which we’ve spent over 2 years creating. Crafting the messaging; tickling the technology until there were no more bugs (famous last words); working out what marketing messages might resonate and which images would stop people in their tracks. And what have I learned so far? It all boils down to people. Their emotions, their habits, their communication needs.
huggg delivers a product in a message. It supercharges a simple message into something with added dimensions (think of the sights, sounds, tastes, ambiance that comes when picking up the huggg). It’s structured as an emotive transaction, not a monetary one, delivered with ease and immediacy but not transactional. The tech is pretty slick, the design is clean, but actually, that all fades into the background because the most lasting impression of the entire experience of using the app boils down to how great it feels to the recipient when the huggg is collected, something that has driven me to write this post.
As part of our launch week, we announced Byron Hamburgers as a launch partner. We ran a giveaway in Bristol to celebrate that, whereby a passer-by was handed a flyer (a recycle-able one before you ask) and told that lunch was on huggg for all downloads occurring before 2pm. It was an act of kindness that we didn’t ask anything for in return, merely that it is in line with what huggg is all about, sharing acts of kindness. To monitor it, I sat in the corner of the restaurant all afternoon.
At lunchtime, a man took one of the flyers from outside and returned to the restaurant 40 minutes later to enquire. He couldn’t download the app because he wasn’t in the correct app store, so I helped him out with that (secretly hoping he hadn’t been trying the entire 40 minutes) and he was taken to his seat. The service member then walked him through how to plug in a few details to access the app, and suddenly he was in and had received his huggg. He ordered excitedly, I'm sure wondering whether it was all too good to be true.
I was on the next table, laptop in front of me, downloads pinging up. Were I in the office, it’d be a name and a number on a database, but I was there and he was real. I don’t think he’d been to Byron before.
The food arrived and he tucked in. Mayonnaise around his mouth, he was happy. The bill arrived and he realised it wasn’t too good to be true- he’d been huggged and the food had been paid for by the sender (which was us, in this instance). He asked to break a note so that he could at least leave a tip.
Will that person ever use huggg to send something to a friend? Actually, I have no idea. He now thinks that Byron is great because they helped him out with his phone and he’d really enjoyed the food.
For 2 years we’ve hoped that the recipient of a huggg would feel great and that the sender, therefore, would get a glow, and I just saw that happen first hand. He’d just nipped out shopping but now he was in a restaurant, excited.
I don’t even know him but huggging him felt great.
Software facilitated the interaction, but when mixed in with the right branding, tone of voice and most importantly the exemplary service in Byron, we’d made a regular guy’s day with one message.
So, in all honesty, I don’t care if he ever uses it again, or about the margin on that particular transaction. He’s just shown me that kindness can facilitate a powerful thing, and now I’m welling up as he tips and walks out of the restaurant because maybe we did build something that people will love.