The Rise of the Experience Economy — and How to Embrace It
January 5, 2018
By: Kelly Spors
It used to be that a business could simply sell goods and services, and — if they were deemed to be of good value — people would buy them. It’s not so simple anymore. Consumers aren’t just looking to transact with businesses; they want to interact, and to feel valued.
Harvard Business Review first highlighted the emergence of the so-called experience economy in the late 1990s, but it has only grown in significance. Now companies large and small have to think about how they can offer a more rewarding customer experience than their competitors.
“We no longer simply make a purchase and walk away,” writes Daniel Newman, principal analyst of Futurum Research, in Forbes. “Consumers seek — and often expect, whether we realize it or not — additional utility from the brands we patronize. We want to feel like they're listening. We don't just want the goods or services, but we want an experience to sweeten the deal.”
Of course, focusing on customer experience doesn’t mean you can sacrifice quality. Consumers today have more options at their fingertips than ever, meaning they demand quality and experience. So, how do you strike a balance and provide consumers with the experience they desire?
Listen to them
You have to understand your customers, their motivations, their challenges and their preferences. You can take surveys and use other customer feedback tools to get better insights. Once you understand what they’re looking for, you can create an experience that will meet their expectations, and hopefully surpass them. (Read tips for creating an effective customer survey.)
Tell your story
Consumers, particularly millennials, care about a brand’s ethos. They want to know a company’s history, mission and values and feel connected to it. Write that story and then use all your channels to share it.
Focus on customer service
Customer service and experience are inevitably intertwined. The service customers receive when they walk into a business or order from a website is the hallmark of their experience and can be what they remember most. Consider how your service can be enhanced, whether that’s offering more personalized help or making it easier for customers to reach you.
Integrate the right technologies
Technology has become central to the experience. Some service businesses, for example, have introduced online scheduling where customers can easily book appointments using their smartphone or laptop. Some retailers use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track purchases and later send personalized emails with product suggestions complementing what customers have bought in the past.
Experiences are ultimately about memories and hopefully positive ones when it comes to your business. How can you create a lasting memory? Some retailers do this by hosting events, such as free classes and workshops, trunk shows or even invitation-only sales for their loyal clientele. Others focus on ambiance: How do potential customers feel upon walking into the business, and how can they provide a cozier or more rewarding environment that will entice them to return?
Every business and industry is different, and thus the customer experience needs to be unique as well. Therefore, if you want to win over consumers, you can’t underestimate the power of an experience.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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