The experience your clients want isn’t better service; that’s service, not experience, and services and experiences are not the same thing.
Whatever the specific experience is that your clients desire, this experience has nothing to do with your offering, as in how good or efficient it is. Your clients want something more – something more meaningful, something personal and transformational.
You might be thinking, They want that from me? But I’m just a <insert job title here>.
The short answer is yes. Even if you’re a plumber, your clients want an experience and they are willing to pay for it. Without an experience, you are only selling goods and services, and all goods and services have become commoditized. Ask the plumbers; even they are charging less these days. The good news for them is that most of their job is gravity.
Because of the Experience Economy, it’s getting harder and harder to be average and be rewarded for it.
Good. Average sucks. Look around the world right now and tell me: Is exceptionalism our problem? Do we have too many smart people thinking and speaking, or has the mob of average taken over?
Consider the businesses you frequent. When was the last time you were a customer and you were legitimately blown away by the business? Off the top of my head, I can’t think of many. What is the ratio of average experiences to exceptional experiences in your life? Maybe it’s just me, but I swim in an ocean of mediocrity. I’d peg it at 9:1 and I’m pretty sure I’m being generous, but the last time I was so happy I could squeal was when I bought new skis and I think that was in November.
Financial advisors are feeling this too. Soon enough, it will be impossible to make a living only selling investments and advice. You will get paid less and less and this has nothing to do with the DOL and everything to do with DPV (decreasing perceived value – I just made that up).
The businesses that are thriving are those that know the emphasis has seriously shifted to staging experiences, not selling really great stuff with even better services. This is no longer a debate.
We live in the Experience Economy where experiences – not goods and services – are the primary economic offering. People will pay more for an authentic experience, and they will wait in line to do so.
Creating value by decreasing costs or including extras is a natural evolution of the economy. It has been going on forever and companies are always looking for new ways to add value for their clients to help differentiate themselves from their competitors — whether it’s value pricing items in packages of 3 or 5 (commoditization), or including extra services that the customer at one time paid for, such as warranties or user support services (more commoditization), or staging a cup of coffee in the atmosphere of a Starbucks café where guests are encouraged to linger and enjoy the Wi-Fi and not rush out. Businesses make these adjustments to keep people interested and engaged with their offerings.
Adding value isn’t new, but I feel that most people don’t realize how significant this shift to the Experience Economy is, that your failure to understand and embrace the Experience Economy is going to put you out of business.
We make the assumption that the satisfaction we feel (or our customers feel) when we buy something will last as long as the thing itself. Buy a new jacket, you’ll love it for 20 years. But you won’t. We fall out of love with stuff.
Possessions by their very nature invite comparison. We love the jacket until we see a jacket that is somehow better than the one we have, or it’s the same one but newer and by comparison our own looks faded and old.
The very same thing happens with professional services that are intangible. We hire a financial advisor and we feel better and we get a lot of attention and clarity and a new plan for going forward. We are in love … for a while. Then we hear about something someone else is getting that we don’t get and now our love affair is over. We are no longer in love; we are just a customer with a little bit of envy and an old jacket. I mean advisor.
Now consider experiences.
Experiences are fleeting and this is part of their power. Unlike the jacket or the financial plan, we know that the experience will end but the memories last forever. In this way, experiences become a part of who we are because they change us.
Experiences cause some personal change, and that change happens inside of us and there is no comparing this. Unlike a tangible thing, experiences are deeply personal.
Going to a play is an experience. There is some anticipation, some transformation as you enter the theatre and take your seats. Then you get the production itself, which engages with you and changes you, and you leave the theatre with a memory that you carry forever.
The secret to staging better experiences for your clients is to think of them as a play. Consider this old saying: “All work is theatre, and every business is a stage.”
What can you do to build some anticipation about the upcoming event? What can you do to make the transition from outside to inside your business unique and memorable? What can you do to make the meeting more engaging and satisfying and memorable?
You don’t want to be considered more stuff.
You want to be a can’t miss.
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