The Power of the Customer ExperiencePosted on November 19, 2015 | Philosophy Communication
Customers are no longer buying just products; they are buying experiences
Most people are loyal consumers. We buy the same brand of laundry detergent time and again and frequent certain restaurants. And when we find a pair of jeans that feel and look great, we will move heaven and earth to find a second pair when the first begins to fray.
We may tell ourselves that our decision to buy a particular brand or product is conscious and reasoned, but oftentimes our buying decisions are rooted much deeper in our emotions, memories and previous experiences. Great brands are built around those emotions and memories—creating experiences for buyers based on much more than just price, value or convenience. Successful brands tap into those great experiences to trigger more buying, building long-term relationships with their customers.
We have brands in our face every day. Even our daily drive to work is a fast-paced montage of billboards, radio ads, car emblems and storefront signage. I pass at least five Starbucks on my way to work. Just a glimpse of each green siren and I can taste that delicious vanilla latte I didn’t realize I was craving.
The emotional impulse to exit my commute for a Starbucks side trip is driven by much more than thirst or caffeine. It’s the cheerful staff, the smell of baked goods and roasting coffee and the pleasing taste of perfectly flavored coffee and milk. This ongoing relationship with the whole Starbucks experience continues to lure me in, long after that first buy.
Philosophy has transformed the luxury appliance industry through our work advising our client Sub-Zero and Wolf to focus on the customer-buying experience—from creating and building luxurious, state-of-the-art showrooms that match the quality and craftsmanship of Sub-Zero and Wolf, to reinventing a service model that flips on its head the idea of a sloppy, disheveled repairman with his pants hanging just a bit too low on his hips (read: plumbers’ crack). We’ve particularly focused on the service model, advising Sub-Zero and Wolf to engage and use service companies that align with the prestige Sub-Zero and Wolf customers have come to expect.
Homeowners are willing to pay double the cost of a similarly sized competitor’s refrigerator, not only because Sub-Zero refrigerators are better and more efficient at preserving food, but because of the luxurious experiences a Sub-Zero makes possible. And if the desire for great experiences drives the purchase, shouldn’t the brand embody luxurious experiences at every step to reinforce the perception and reward of owning a Sub Zero?
When it’s time for maintenance or repair of a Sub-Zero or Wolf, an inconsistent or unprofessional service experience just won’t cut it. A service tech who tracks in mud, has to return another day with the correct part, or is ill-informed about your service issue does not speak luxury. That repair experience, if linked with the Sub-Zero brand, colors the homeowner’s overall connection with the brand. Which is why Sub-Zero invests in white-glove, exceptional service experiences. It’s more than a well-engineered refrigerator; it’s a statement of identity, a lifestyle.
To craft your brand’s customer experience ask yourself the following:
- What is one thing I want my customer to remember about my brand?
- What three words or phrases do I want customers to associate with my brand?
- How do I want customers to feel when seeing my brand?
Answers to these questions are a great starting point to defining your customer experience. But don’t forget to talk to your loyal customers to learn what they value about your brand.
Remember, customers want an experience that adds value to their life and exceeds their expectations of how they thought they would feel. Through every interaction with a potential or current customer, don’t forget how that interaction fits in the whole picture, the end-to-end customer experience.