You Sell Experiences, Whether You Like It or Not
October 11, 2017
This is a piece that I originally authored over at Entrepreneur.com.
I took my little nephew to Meadowhall a few weeks ago. Through the usual Saturday madness, and after spending what felt like two lifetimes finding a parking spot, we decided to head over to Krispy Kreme for a doughnut or twelve (don't tell his Mum).
A shopping centre like Meadowhall is always busy on a Saturday yet something struck me: there was one store, out of hundreds, that was markedly busier than any other.
Not only that, but the people going into that stop seemed to be spending more time in there just browsing than they would in any other store.
They were just playing, tinkering and really just getting a feel for the place and the products on offer.
I made a mental note of that and didn't think anything more of it.
A week or so later I had to call into Meadowhall again, this time for a last minute birthday gift (judge me).
This was a late night session, after a day working and I got there at around 8pm.
This is pretty late for a standard day and, having gotten parked up nice and easily (whoop) I ventured into the mall to hunt down the perfect gift.
The place was empty, relatively speaking.
But yet, as I walked past the very same store that I mentioned above, I noticed that it wasn't empty.
It was thriving, bustling and had only around 30% less people than at peak times on a Saturday afternoon.
And that really piqued my interest.
What is it about this store that makes people gravitate towards it?
What makes it so attractive to people who are not only seeking the store out for something specific, but to those who are also simply walking past?
What makes these people enter the store and, more importantly, what makes them STAY there for such a length of time?
What creates the “stickability” of this store?
The store is, of course, the Apple Store.
As I thought about this further, a number of things stuck out to me:
- Despite what you think of their recent offerings, for the last decade and more Apple has pioneered products that provide amazingly simple interfaces and intuition led interaction.
- Apple is famous for creating a huge brand buzz around any release. So much so in fact, that even if the company releases a feature that is present in other products, it is often lauded as an innovation.
- The company is regarded as expensive; as a premium product provider; as a company that understands exactly who it targets and that endeavours to make its customers feel like they're a part of something special, something elite.
There are so many more reasons that Apple fans can give to describe why the company is the company to spend your hard-earned cash with but in short, all of the above points lead to deducing one specific goal for the business:
Give customers an amazing experience. Make them feel something special.
I remember reading the fabulous Steve Jobs Biography and being struck by Jobs' development process for the Apple Stores.
So dedicated was Jobs to giving Apple customers the perfect experience, along with of course generating maximum ROI from the stores, that he had a mock Apple Store constructed in the middle of nowhere so that he could personally visit it and walk around it, making tweaks and changes to the layout as he went in order to really tune and dial in the customer experience.
You don't need to be Apple to focus on experience
We all want the very best experience from the companies that we buy from.
Heck if we feel even a little wronged by any company at all, we take to social media to express our distaste at how they're “mistreating us”.
So many businesses focus on talking about customer experience but few, especially on the 1-5 person scale, focus on actually delivering it.
I believe that this is thanks to a few specific misconceptions:
- “Customer experience is for ‘airy-fairy' tech companies.”
- “Customer experience is expensive, I must need more people for that.”
- “New sales are more important.”
I'm sure you have more.
The fact of the matter is that a high-quality customer experience should be the focus for every single business, from one-person enterprises by early-stage entrepreneurs, to larger organisations with many more moving parts and much higher budgets.
As an early-stage entrepreneur, though, how can one focus on delivering the very highest standard of customer experience with limited budget, resources and time?
Make it your sole focus to pleasantly surprise every single customer, every single time that they interact with you and your business.
Secret: it's super easy, too!
Think about this: why is it that mobile phone service providers, ISPs, and TV providers have such a bad rep?
It's because they don't always deliver what they promise and when there is even the slightest query with your service, you go through a world of pain to speak to someone.
And it's not just these person-to-person interactions either.
Often, these types of businesses have terribly confusing websites, convoluted processes and overall the experience of dealing with them is awful.
Here's where you win.
As the owner of a small business, you have control.
You have to put something out there for people, whether that's content or replying to customers verbally or via email, or in the way of products/services.
Why not, every single time a customer has to interact with you, make that experience so very, very surprising in its quality, it's delivery and in the outcome for the customer that they are instantly surprised at just how satisfied, happy and well looked after they feel?
It's as easy to deliver 120% as it is to deliver 60% when it comes to customer experience, because you will always have to deliver something.
Why not make it the very best experience that your customer has ever had?
Why not make it easy for them to refer you to other people?
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel!