Managing the Customer Experience

Yesterday morning I attended a web seminar on the topic of managing the "customer experience." The point of the presentation was that it’s not enough to just deliver a product or a service, you must deliver an experience to your customers and it’s the quality of that experience that’s all important.  The presenter was a guy named Bernd Schmitt and he gave a couple of excellent examples.Starbucks_1

He discussed the coffee business.  Wholesale coffee beans are a commodity and are relatively inexpensive.  Roast, grind, and package the same coffee and the price goes up.  Brew the coffee and serve it by the cup, with cream and sugar and a place to sit down and drink it and the price goes up again.  But, offer music, comfortable chairs, free newspapers, wireless Internet and offer frappes and lattes with whipped cream and foam and call yourself "Starbucks" and you can charge $4.00-$5.00 a cup.  That’s selling the customer experience.

He also talked about the Apple stores.  You can buy an iPod just about anywhere, but a huge percentage of them are sold at the Apple stores.  Why?  The price is the same wherever you buy them.  It’s the experience.  If you buy your iPod just about anywhere and you have a problem, it can be a hassle.  But, if you bought it at the Apple store, you take it to a "Genius Bar."  It’s just a service counter, but it’s presented as a perk.  You’re not talking to a service tech, you’re talking to a "genius."  There’s even a red telephone, a "hot line" to Apple Corp. in case the "genius" needs help.

What experience is your customer looking for?  You’d better find out before your competition does.

By the way, check out Schmitt’s web site.  It’s an experience.

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