Business is Personal Newsletter
December 2004

 

What's your EXPERIENCE?

One of the new buzzwords is the "Experience Economy," but what, in effect, does it really mean and how does it apply to your business?

Think About This

If you have a terrible experience at a store, what do you do? If you're like most people, you not only vow not to patronize that business again, but you probably tell several of your friends, family members and colleagues about your bad experience.

On the flip side, if you have a great experience, you build an affinity for the business and may become a raving fan or advocate, encouraging others to patronize that business.

The Experience Economy

So we know why good experiences are good for business, but the Experience Economy goes much further than that. This notion pushes the concept of customers being involved IN your business, blurring the line between customer and collaborator.

I don't believe it's the "next big thing," but I do think it's here to stay. So many people are tired of being marketed "to" and want more say in what they buy and how they buy it. The "experience" is here to stay.

It's so funny that this is even part of our lexicon now, because "the experience" was what this country's communities were built upon. Think about your old corner store. Think about your barber shop or your community coffee house. You see, the entire community experience used to be like the infamous TV show "Cheers," where everybody knew your name. People had connections - maybe not with products, but with the people who sold them products.

Why is this important NOW?

Why is it different today? Blame the Wal-Marts and huge franchises of the world. Now, before you shoot me off an email, you should know that I'm not opposed to franchises or large chains - it's a necessity of business in a competitve market to streamline operations, develop economies of scale, and generally create systemized business processes so you can sustain the business. What ISN'T necessary is to lose the human touch. That's where they've got it all wrong - even those who purport to "greet" you at the door. Do you think most "greeters" really care that you're there? Do they remember your name? (I know SOME do, but as institutions, it's obvious that corporations care more about short-term profits than creating a customer for life - and that's what's at the core of the Experience Economy.)

Connection is Key

We crave connection. We crave positive experiences in this hyper-connected cyber world where people are losing the human touch.

And since we're losing that human touch, we're looking for more "experiences," which push further into the value chain of an enterprise. Adapt to the "experience economy" or become a commodity where everything you do is based on price, rather than value.

What to Expect

Here's what you can expect in the near future: customers will want more say in how you develop products, but not only that, they will want connection with communities of like-minded customers. Customers will influence EVERY aspect of your operation, from how they are greeted, to how they are treated, to how you deliver any product or service. Look for ways to include your customers now or be warned - they'll find a place where they can INFLUENCE the experience.

Exercise:

From this point on, find ways to INCLUDE your customers in your business more - they'll surprise you!:

1.) Banish the "sacred cows" such as, "that's our policy," or "that's just the way we do things" from your vocabulary and from your employees' vocabulary. If a customer has a complaint, asks a questions or makes a suggestion LISTEN! Ask them reasons why and think about how it could help your business. Better yet, start asking your customers what they'd like to see improved, or different or new!

2.) Open up your business to allow customers input on things they care about. If you're not quite sure how, once again, ASK. You'll be surprised how much information people will give you if you simply ask. Don't get defensive if a customer suggests something you don't like - it's their preference and they are absolutely entitled to their opinion or preference - if you don't give them an opportunity to express it, they'll do it with your competitors or to their friends.

I'd love to know what you think about this new "experience economy" and how you plan to incorporate it into your business (hint: this is one of your chances to influence mine!).

All my best,

©2004 This is a publication of www.betterme.org.