When was the last time you bought something because the customer experience was so mind-blowing that you didn’t consider the price or whether there was a competing product out there that might be better? Well, if was quite recently, then you’re not alone, as apparently 89% of customers in the US and UK said they would make decisions based on customer experience ahead of price and product. Six years ago that figure was just 12%. (Source: Deloitte).
It shows just how relevant the experience economy is, as Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Executive Director of Customer, Marketing & Marksandspencer.com talked about GDS’s most recent omnichannel summit. “At M&S we’ve obsessed with the product and we used to spend 80% of our time talking about the product. It’s about the totality of what we deliver in the new experience economy. And it’s not simple, because we all define experience in a different way. What I know for sure is the fact that the experience has to be connected, it’s the totality of what the brand delivers to the customer that will start making sense.”
Almost twenty years since Joseph Pine and James Gilmore published their thoughts on ‘The Experience Economy’ about customer experience, the advent of technology and data has rendered it stronger and more relevant than ever before.
Because, as Pine says, “it’s about turning a service into an experience.” You need to differentiate between a service and an experience here. An efficient and convenient service is just that, a service. When it becomes memorable, that’s when it becomes an experience. “A customer experience needs to be different, not just nice. It needs to be memorable. If people don’t talk about it or share it, it’s not a memorable experience. Experiences are inherently personal. No two experiences are the same. Experience is not about convenience or efficiency but about engagement.”
And I wonder, how many companies out there get this? I mean really get that with the purchase of goods and services becoming increasingly commoditized, experience is all they’ve got to play with or should that be play for?
One company that “gets” it all the way is US-based IfOnly. It taps into the mindset that it’s not about owning more, it’s about experiencing more. Founder Trevor Traina thinks like this: “Every trend and every research report points to the fact that people want to live experientially….people’s lives are pointing to experiences, not things. This is as true for wealthy people as millennials.” From the sublime to quite possibly the ridiculous, it’s there. Want to take a graffiti workshop? Or arrange for your kids to be part of a film shoot and have their own red carpet premiere? Learn how to make your own miso. Yes, that was miso. Or just book a full body boot camp work out with a certified TRX trainer. With prices from as little as $20 and as much as $20 million, it’s open to all.
For marketers, the importance of the experience opens up a whole raft of opportunities to increase revenue streams. But the challenge is harder than it might seem. It means businesses have to be smart users of data and data analytics. And they have to get the balance right between sending targeted communications and bombarding customers with unwanted or irrelevant offers. Get that wrong and social media could be your enemy. We all know how that can turn out…
Over to you
What have you been doing to create an experience for your customers. Share your story in the comments below.